Pick Up Your Room
||The Channeling (Ways to reach your Muse)
By Shaman Sean
© 1999-2001 Shaman Sean. All Rights Reserved. Used By Permission.
At about the age of 9 or 10 I began martial arts. My martial arts instructor was one of the most revered instructors for the art. One of the things he used to drill into us was the value of building good habits. How if you are learning different techniques, however you are repeating them (good or bad), becomes what you do without thinking. See, with martial arts the whole goal is to be able to react correctly in a given situation. If you take time to think, you might not leave the situation. So a considerable amount of time is spent in the beginning getting the body used to the various positions and techniques; so that when they are called upon in the future, you don't have to think. Your body just knows how to react. I regarded music in the same way as I grew up.
With musical techniques, the goal is to get the instrument so that it doesn't hinder the process of creating. The more your instrument becomes a part of your unconscious, the less of your conscious mind has to be focused on "how" to play, leaving room to think more about "what" to express. So it is with songwriting as well. There are some things you can learn about why you like certain things. What it is about your influences that draws you to their songs? What is it about the songs? Once you find that out, in your own language, you can absorb it by using it. The less you have to think about "how" songwriting works, the more you can think about how to use the song to express exactly "what" you are trying to express.
Studying music theory, hooks, key signatures, chords, etc. all fall into the same category. You should study these things and put them into your subconscious so that you can arrive at a point where you do not have to consciously think about such matters. Then your full energy can be about your art (ie. what you are going to express).
All these things are like tools in a tool box. Tools by themselves can't make anything. They don't just jump up by themselves and create something. It takes a human being to create. A great deal of stress is created when the tools master our creativity. We are driven into writers block, and our muse slot becomes empty. Never lose sight of the fact that these things are all tools.
As you learn about music theory or whatever, you should remember that you are just expanding your toolbox. So you also need to concentrate on expanding your ability to express what is inside you. If you build up a big tool collection, you need to use them and figure out how they work. Get to know them in and out. But after that is done, refocus on the goal; expression. In the end, you need to make people feel something using those tools.
The reason why I take time to speak about such matters, is because many people get lost in the tools. Many people leave themselves in the tool box. And they wonder why they can't write any better. So they usually make the mistake of learning more tools, thinking that if they know enough, then the muse will come back. This is not the case. If you are getting lost in tools, you need to reconnect. You need to live so that you have something to use those tools on. Your life is like a movie. Your songs are like the soundtrack. Start to live your life being aware of the movie. Then use your tools to make it come alive for others so they can see it.
Songwriting is about honesty. If you will: songwriting is about truth. When people really, really connect to a song, you will see that its because of truth. Somehow, the artists truth and their own truth is the same. And the artist communicated the truth through the song. None of the tools can do this on their own. But the tools can help. Its very important though, that in your life you are living as a receiver of all truth around you. Sometimes we get bogged down in tools where we do not see the truth anymore. The truth is what the muse comes for.
One thing you will find is that truth is simple. It can be expressed simply. It can be expressed with a hundred faces in a hundred different ways because of its simplicity. But it is the same truths. Look at your own songs, or your own favorite songs. What truth did you receive from them by listening to them? It may be as simple as the truth of a feeling in a moment in your life. Or it may be as complex as the truth of a situation that you went through.
You will see. You will then remember why you sang that first song that you really felt. You will feel it. I feel it on a summers day, or when the sky is dark before a storm, or when its raining, or in the black of night. The muse is everywhere. Once you connect, you will remember. You will see it everywhere. This is from where the life comes to your songs. Start to be a receiver of truth. The truth of your life; the truth of the world; the truth in situations in your life. When you do, you may find that the muse has never left. But was merely waiting for you to wake up.
Work on preventing your bad habits, and developing good ones; then you will find that the process of connection becomes much easier. Learn as much as you can, but learn to "forget" by making habits. Always regain your focus after studying. Always put your tools away into the toolbox, don't leave them out so that you trip on them later.
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