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I love to visit to art museums. When in a new city, the first thing I do is find one. In the white walled spaciousness, it is easy to slow down and shake the ego loose. There are many things to observe, the paintings on the walls and the fellow museum goers. Paintings tend to remain inert, but if you sit and watch one for a while, the details not apparent in a quick glance reveal themselves.
Contemporary art is my favorite, the craft of the artist becomes highly important. My favorite questions to pose to the abstract work (though they don’t tend to answer): what was the technique involved? how did the artist use the paint, the colors, the brushstrokes? Beyond the technique, or sometimes before the technique, is the question: what is the artist trying to say? Some paintings reveal their emotions and meaning in waves; no thought process is necessary. Some paintings explore the space beyond emotion, beyond the soul and into the spirit. Some, can balance between the two extremes, between light and dark, between the lines of living.

Whenever I go to museums, I have this urge to paint. This is absurd, I have a total of zero training in visual arts. When I explored this feeling, I realized what it was. Rather than a need to paint, it is a need to validate my existence as an artist of sound. Sound doesn’t stick around, sound is produced and dies. No matter how many different colors one can make with sound, it needs to exist in time. It would be nice to have, a final product. I want visible technique, I want to hang all my hard work on the wall. To come to the end of the day and leave something behind, to be able to observe your work. Something to point to when asked: What do you do? To have that concrete statement. To have concrete evidence to present to people when they present to me that dreaded question: what do you do?

All of these thoughts make me think: how can I create this sense of accomplishment in my own daily work? What can I do differently? I will never be able to show off all of my hours of work to others, this just isn’t possible. Recordings are a good way to preserve work, but recordings for me are like prints of great works. Wonderful to have, but not the same. This also doesn’t answer the question of my daily work. I also dabble in composing, which is a satisfying way of creating something during the day, but without the performer, just pencil on a page. However, my primary work is making music from living and dead composers. Taking the tangible notes on a page, adding sound and time, and creating the intangible.

Rather than diminishing in my own mind what I do for a living, I am trying to learn to see myself as a co-creator. Yes, I will never have something on the walls to show people, the daily disappearance of my work is something that is the best and worse about music. However, I still have the craftsmanship that I admire in painters in my own arsenal. I just need to reframe (no pun intended) my own daily work, not dismiss it. I should think of this: what I do is the constant creation and destruction of sound, and leaving nothing behind could be seen as a highly create act, the daily Phoenix of some sort.

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