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Deciding What Original Material to Play

My previous blog dealt with the issues arising from choosing the proper “cover” material to play. This blog today will deal with the more sensitive and artistically challenging aspects of coming up with and creating original material.

Now, of course, original material can literally be anything, and this is where the problems can lie. I know that I sometimes have my own tendency to “spread myself too thin” when it comes to the genres I like to work in, even in the sense of original material. I mean, most of the time you can “tell” an Arlen Roth original, or even an Arlen Roth cover song, but it’s often hard for me to keep from jumping all over the place in terms of genres! Artistically, this is a very important juncture for anyone, and it becomes very wise to not become too diversified. It’s a real temptation, this thing of trying to show how multi-faceted we are as musical artists, but it’s much better to try to let a body of work become a true representation of who we are and what we like doing at a certain time in our lives. I know that when I plan an album, as I’m doing right now, I am faced with the same dilemma; do I keep my choices broad, or do I let the album speak for me right now artistically?

This also can be very hard as a song writer, since I can span literally decades of material until I finally decide to commit it to being recorded, so the span of time that is represented can be incredibly wide. The key for you is to long for a sense of continuity within the material, and to let many things help determine that. Sticking with the same, consistent group of musicians is one thing that can help, but most of all it is a “point of view” you want to project from an original album of songs. I have nothing against keeping the playing diversified, but the songs should definitely have a point of view, and approach and a sense of the time in which they were created, so the listener can feel that very thing. If you look back on some of the great albums by top artists, this has always been the case. It’s almost akin to visual artists like Picasso, for example, who went through a blue period, a grey period, etc., in a way that undoubtedly showed a particular bent to his work at that time. It’s also true of folks like the Beatles, Bob Dylan and The Band, who were the kinds of artists we grew to expect new and refreshing things from every time they released a new project.

I certainly hope that in the future, you too will be able to develop your own “voice”, as well as a consistency that you can really hang onto for each and every project you tackle. Best of luck!


Posted: 12/7/2010 3:09:46 PM with Comments | Add Comment | Email Link | Permalink
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