I think this battle, this ongoing war between the rules and the rebellion that exists in all of our creative minds is part of what makes art both challenging and equally worthy of our blood, sweat and tears.
“Art is hard” — Tim Kasher (Cursive)
What is fascinating about this battle is how both sides are necessary and evil at the same time. There isn’t a stereotypical good guy and bad guy. For instance, as a guitarist, I was never classically trained, or trained much at all in terms of theory beyond basic chords when I was ten years old. However, over the last twenty years of playing, touring, writing, and performing, I have developed my own style, my sound if you will. Does this mean that theory just wasn’t necessary for me? No. The fact is, I spend a good amount of time most days trying to play catch up and learning why certain things work and why others don’t. In fact, having more and more understanding of theory only continues to grow me, twenty years into my “career.” The reality is that knowledge truly is power. Understanding the why helps us define the when. When to use the rule. When to break the rule. When to write a new rule that breaks the others.
Now, the other side of this coin also exists. When we are all theory and no feel. All mind and no soul. We lose a massively important artistic element. Feeling. things sound ceramic when they are only fed theory. Art looks too right.
Theory is math. Math is perfect. Perfect art sucks.
Don’t get me wrong, theory doesn’t suck, but perfection does…as a goal anyway. The crosshairs of our creativity ought to be aimed at authenticity. We make a difference by being different. We are unique because we are humans. Humans are imperfect. Thus, we are the most authentic when we allow our imperfection to exist in our art.
All of this is to simply state what we all know is true. We need a balance. We need to understand the world in which we create. With our minds. We MUST grasp the foundational rules that we have to work with. Then the amazing part can happen. We can carve our creative path with our individual style, our unprecedented approach to the same set of rules.
So again we say to us all…be yourself. And keep creating.
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