23 Jul 12
Okay so some one got in touch and asked me to write a blog. I’d never written a blog before so I decided to do a bit of research. The first thing everyone says is to make the blog about ‘ME!’. Well apart from the fact that I have a rampant ego and need no further encouragement in this department I also lead a pretty average uninteresting life. Occasionally I write music which I find pretty exciting – so I thought I’d write about that, or the lack thereof to be precise.
Writer’s block, that condition which can strike down the most prolific of us is not something to be taken lightly for those of us who live at the whim of the Muse. I know of a Grammy winning artist who has hit’s spanning 3 decades who now cannot write a single inspired note. So where does this inspiration come from and where does it go when it decides to leave us. This I find a little hard to explain but I did come a little closer to a concrete answer when I delved into why it might leave.
In the Native American Indian culture it is said that when someone becomes a Shaman he is reborn through a strange dream journey and assigned ‘Spirit Guides’ or Ancestors to give him wisdom and inspiration. If a person commits a heinous crime or is seriously disrespectful to the ancestors, they will leave him most times for good. Winning them back is not easy apparently.
In his days among us, the composer Joseph Haydn was said to have knelt down and begged for forgiveness of his sins whenever writers block came upon him. He would then reflect upon his actions and thoughts, correct what he thought was wrong and continue to write. Mozart similarly emphasized a good moral character (despite what certain films may have us believe).
In Ancient Greece it is said that the Muse will only give her gifts to those whose hearts are pure enough to receive her melodies. Confucius said that a person who composed music for his own benefit and not for that of others was in fact an evil person. Even in the classical European tradition we have some evidence of this. In Jospeh Fux’s study of counterpoint; Gradus ad Parnassum the old monk master Aloysius tells the young student:
Perhaps the hope of future riches and possessions induces you to choose this life? If this is the case, believe me you must change your mind; not Pluto but Apollo rules Parnassus. Whoever wants riches must take another path.
Music was always seen as a sacred art, one where only the lucky and pure of hearts would have its secrets revealed to them. Perhaps it is no coincidence that some of the best music came from monasteries and those with a firm faith in the devine?
So next time the dreaded writers block hits what will I do? I’ll take some time to reflect on myself, see where I can improve, where I can be kinder perhaps. And maybe I’ll believe in the Gods a little more as well ; ) See you next time.