SCP #33: Firsts
I have been having some really nice conversations with my friend Emilee Seymour lately, as she is visiting Melbourne from Paris for a few weeks. Today we went to the Australian Tapestry Workshop, which was a big leap back into my past. I posted about it on Instagram, and after a comment exchange with Lucy Roleff (a fellow Melbourne-based musician) I thought I would explore the issue of identity a little in today's blog.
I spoke in a previous post about having studied textile design before finding my way to music study, but in between that textile design Diploma and starting my Bachelor of Music I worked first in administration and then as a web developer. That in-between period was initiated when I needed a way to pay my rent, and once I'd stepped onto the salaried corporate ladder it took me a long time to build up the courage to jump off again. I lasted about seven years, and while I was still working on music and textiles in my free time there was an underlying dark current of failure that really made me quite unhappy.
A visit to the Tapestry Workshop during that time would probably have ended with me going home to cry my eyes out, frustrated that I hadn't been able to make a career in textiles work, and feeling that I was a complete failure as a person. This connection between who you are as a person and what you do has always been difficult for me, and it continues to be difficult as I work through this project. I am naturally passionate and invested, and I tend to put a lot of myself into whatever I'm doing. This is not a bad thing, but the problems arise when you start to equate yourself as a person with those things you are putting yourself into. Yet, as Emilee put it very eloquently today, you may put yourself into your work or your art, but you, yourself, are not your work or your art. It exists as a separate entity beyond you, and whether it exists, or its success or failure is not a measure of you or your success or failure as a person.
At the moment taking that step away from my own art is still difficult. However, it is absolutely crucial to my finishing this project with my sanity intact. I don't think I have the answers yet, but the more I think about these kinds of problems the closer I get to a healthier, more creatively sustainable state of mind.
And now on to the song. I took four notes from yesterday's melody and turned them into a melodic figure, which I repeated transposed, and the rest of the piece is mostly improvised. The only pre-planned idea was that there would be unison voice and guitar whenever those melodic figures were stated. The piece is instrumental and needed a name, so I called it Firsts because it's a song of firsts. It's the first time I've played this guitar, which is my very first non-borrowed electric guitar. It's also the first time I've shared myself playing a solo on guitar on the world, and the first time I have attempted to solo both vocally and on guitar at the same time. It's quite scary sharing so many firsts, but also kind of liberating. I have been working away very slowly at learning to improvise on guitar, so this is a tentative step forward in that process.