Your music is who you are.

When I say that, I don’t mean that your life depends on your music, or that music is all that matters in your life. What I mean is that you can always tell who a person is through his or her music. When you hear an improviser or composer who demonstrates a great deal of self indulgence, overpowering those around him with busy improvisation or writing difficult and pretentious music that serves to impress rather than to express, that says something important about the person creating the music.

If a person is able to write beautiful, tender music, or be sensitive to the musicians he is playing with, this demonstrates a certain legitimate part of the person’s personality. Of course, you might think there are exceptions. For example, what if a person who acts arrogant and selfish on the outside writes gorgeous, tender music? Either way, I personally believe that the music is expressing a part of that person that is not always seen.

Some people are completely incapable of writing beautiful music. Some people are completely incapable of writing exciting music. Sometimes, if you go to a jazz club in New York City and listen carefully to a musician, you can tell all you need to know about his or her personality. If the player is self-indulgent, playing lots of notes while not listening to the other musicians, chances are that this will show through in his personality. That person won’t really listen to you either if you talk to him. And that’s why I think your music is who you are. It is a direct channel of your personality.

What do you think? Is music “who you are,” or are there exceptions to the rule? Leave your thoughts in a comment below or by clicking the little comment bubble at the top right of the post.

6 thoughts on “Your music is who you are.

  1. How do you explain musicians who look down on everyone and have a massive ego, yet they are still capable of creating beautiful music? A musician’s personality and their love for music can often be separated. One can practice for hours and develop a strong sense of musicianship while being disrespectful to everyone around them.

    • Of course thank you. I think it’s a great question. I would personally argue that all great musicians, or artists for that matter, are able to create art that is extremely honest and represents a part of themselves. That being the case, even someone arrogant who treats people terribly is demonstrating that he has a tender and emotional side by creating beautiful music. Of course, “beautiful” music is much different than “impressive” music. My personal experience has been that people who are truly arrogant and obnoxious play music like it. They play for themselves, show off, and don’t listen to other musicians.

  2. “even someone arrogant who treats people terribly is demonstrating that he has a tender and emotional side by creating beautiful music.”
    Wow, well said. That makes sense now.

  3. I agree with you on this 100%. But I think its something we all have to go through as musicians. I believe everyone goes through that phase where they try to show off or impress people, and yet trying too hard ends up making us look worse.

    The difficult thing for me is to get rid of my judgements while I’m playing. For so long I had this idea that good music has to be a certain way or it must be complex… And so when I played something simple, i would make judgements in my head. All of us as musicians go through this and its so important to learn to let go of the idea that things have to be a certain way.

    • Very true. A lot of the time even people with great talent and a great musical concept can be deterred by the pressures of live performance, or what they believe people want to hear. It’s really important to stay as true to yourself as possible, but sometimes these performance anxieties can definitely get in the way of the “your music is who you are” theory. Thanks for the comment, Dotan.

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