I am in the middle of semester final at the moment. I have finished one of the biggest exam past Monday, left with one recital to end the semester. I have worked frantically last few weeks, so I am giving myself a breather, and went to see some performances…let me share a few.
The other night I went to listen to my composition professor John Sharpley’s concert at the Artshouse.
It blew my mind. To hear his compositions that was directly inspired by Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet – I knew about this infamous novel, but I have not read it and as he shared bits prior to his performance, I was already very moved by the words (now I’m going to get this book!!) and he sat down to play. I really don’t know how to explain, but because I have his lesson every week and hear him talk about music, life, and everything and as he calls music as ‘biological (and also he refers it as quantum physics at times)’, and to hear his music being exactly so fresh, raw and yet so thought out and complex… a depth stroke me every single note he played. He has invited vocalist Reuben Lai (tenor) to sing the songs and not only I enjoyed the music throughly, I was touched and my senses were stimulated. I am so inspired to know more about the music, and feel extremely fortunate to have a mentor who constantly pushes my boundary and to make me question where my music is, without fail. He has shown it to me just like that. Truly a platinum level artistry, which is not easy to find these days, especially around where I am.
Right after this concert, I headed over to see one of my favourite young bassist around the globe, Tim De Cotta who is also my band mate of L.A.B. (Listen And Believe). This super talented cat, he has just launched his single ‘RIO’ (which I have also played with him before) and he is in the middle of a launch celebration tour ‘The Warrior’s Hall‘ in Singapore with some of his favourite bands around.
First of all, here is the song. Simple song but throws me into unlimited imagination : https://soundcloud.com/timdecotta/rio
I am always so amazed by how talented he is, and I rely on his talent a lot. The joy of playing music with someone who can hear what I can hear, and have another angle to it… it’s a blissful feeling. Though we make music together in the same band, it was my first time to see his concert with all his own material. He is also a talented vocalist (he sings harmonies with Michaela in L.A.B.) and one of the most grooving bass player, and has big big ears to hear ‘music’. You might think ‘oh, sure we all hear music’… not really. Amongst so many musicians I know and I’ve played, some people only hear music as notes and sounds. That is ok too (you will not believe, some don’t even hear other people’s notes) but when making music, we need to have ability to hear the whole thing, or should I say ‘where it may go to’. I’m now talking not just about Timmy, but here is how I felt after 2 shows I experienced that night. Again quoting John Sharpley : ‘music is biological’ – there is no better way of saying it. Music is alive, and we musicians must know it….
If we keep listening to what’s happening at the moment, the music will stop right there(well, sometimes you don’t even hear ‘what’s happening at the moment’, sigh…). We musicians, especially when we are involved in improvisational or soul music (Jazz, blues, tribal, and if you are a composer), we are driven by music. I don’t believe we are the original creator, for thousands of years the music has been composed, played and sang. Every possible thing we hear has been done. So… the originality of what we have is, that we living in ‘now’, we are vessels to be filled up and music goes through us we need to catch. We are processors, who create from what we hear. That means you need to be open and be lean enough to catch what goes through us. I think this is the most important but tough part.
I think we can all play with our egos, but then still, in order for music to sound how it sounds, you need to accept and open to egos, which eventually means ‘no ego’!
This year I’m a student at a college again. This doesn’t only means I’m a college student, but I’m back to square one. I’m so happy to let go my recent experience of being a professional musician, though I still am an adult and at times need to have certain responsibility to play music, but I’m now back to ‘not ready’. This ‘not ready’ part of me is working hard to refine the art from taking few step back… I’m still struggling to play purely from the heart due to too much experience of performing in so many situations, but it’s getting better. Because I cut down performances, I can finally see my habits and tendencies… when in the practice room, I feel my habits and it’s sometimes painful and I go into dilemma and even small depressions, but I take them all as blessings. I do criticise myself a lot, but I also have an ambition to make true music for me, so it is a worthwhile pain!
Getting a little too philosophical in this anatomy, but I really enjoyed both concerts that night of pure original music. Extremely different, but the common part is me, who knows both :) I’m the lucky one. My life is happening like this.
This is Timmy and I from one of our gigs last year. We are playing tonight at Blu Jaz Cafe as L.A.B.!
Hope to see you all there!
From one of our performances last year :) He is the younger brother I don’t have!
P.S. I am jamming/rehearsing with my new project with Angie Seah and Ian Woo. This is completely experimental and improvisational one. Hope to let you know soon when our performance will be :)