I think something very important happened last night.
Lindsey dropped by the bike shop a few hours before closing and we talked about getting together later in the evening with other kids and instruments. Five hours later I was walking with my guitar around my neck and Ryan hefting his upright bass beside me. We cut a zig-zagging path through the frat district of Chico and made our way downtown. Converging with Lindsey and her fiddle in an empty web-design office above a bar, we tried to make noises.
Before Ryan and I had set out from his house with our instruments, he mentioned some ideas for improving our chances of making actual music, particularly how essential it was that the three of us actually listen. Because we each come from what we would consider very different musical places, it might be difficult to identify a common ground. If we didn’t, he warned, it would be the three of us playing three different things, just in the same place at the same time. Real listening, as opposed to merely projecting, would facilitate a treatise of taste.
A few hours later, after much noise and a bit of cooperation, we called it quits for the evening. On the streets below us the bar patrons and police were just beginning their early morning dance. Our trio hadn’t simultaneously erupted into an aural experience remarkable and new, but progress had been made toward something musical.
Ryan and I debriefed the situation once we had our instruments back at his apartment. Whenever I’ve played along with Lindsey on fiddle before, I’ve found myself lost. My abilitiy to follow melody, rhythm, or mood seems to take a nose-dive as the bow makes it’s way across those four taut strings. Lindsey plays a lot of traditional Irish folk music, and it may be with this style that I have such trouble.
Listening to her play, considering my difficulty with playing or even listening along, and understanding the style of music with which I am comfortable playing, finds me in a box. I’m not able to satisfactorily define the perimeter of this analytical division, but I can tell when something lies within, or as with Lindsey’s traditional fiddle skills, outside of my box.
Thinking of experiences as divided and grouped by boxes can imbue the experiences with a different significance or cast them under a new light. Right now I believe very strongly in the importance of turning ideas into things. Be it music, text, art, or sounds traveling from our mouths to our friends’ ears. Immaterial ideas afloat without context aren’t enough, though they’re certainly aplenty. If all we have is our ideas with no manifestation to show for it, they are but data without value.
These boxes are really easy to make, to give them form and to see them surround experience, to watch as fields of data become valuable information encompassed by classification and context. These boxes verb nouns.