Do You Have What It Takes To Be A True Artist? – Part 2

By Chris Standring

It is so easy to make a record these days. One no longer needs to have the luxury of a recording contract in order to stand on a pedestal and say “I am an artist – buy my record!”
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With home studios costing one 16th of the price they did ten years ago and with software programs that do it all, you can churn out albums by the dozen if you put your mind to it. And many do.

However, just because you can, why would you? – is my question. Just for fun? OK, valid I suppose.

But Isn’t it better to spend that time and energy searching relentlessly for something unique and different? God knows record companies are releasing enough crap by the hour, even signed artists are now under the impression they have got something to offer. Maybe they have, but for the most part I don’t think so (as public reaction and their soundscans will attest!)

Perhaps I am being extremely unfair, but I think too many artists do not realize that they have a responsibility to say something profoundly unique, certainly if they expect any kind of career longevity.

We live in a world where musicians spend their lives emulating their heroes; singers spend their lives emulating Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin, Stevie Wonder, Frank Sinatra and so on.

Rock guitarists spend their lives emulating Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Paige, Jeff Beck and Eddie Van Halen.

Jazz guitarists are proud emulators of Pat Metheny, John Scofield and Wes Montgomery. Saxophone players worship Charlie Parker, John Coltrane and Michael Brecker. And so on…
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Before I go on I have to say that emulating heroes is absolutely imperative in your formative years as musicians. You simply MUST listen to the greats, past and present.

One has to have a strong grounding and musical knowledge and one simply cannot get there without listening. However, way too many ‘artists’ cannot get past this stage.

They need to have peer approval, have to know that other respected musicians around them recognize them and applaud their abilities. Often all this takes place subconsciously.

This ‘peer approval’ is a stage of development that is also important. Every musician goes through it at some point. It is absolutely natural, but I firmly believe that to become a great artist, you have to move beyond that stage and look inward.

I always liken it those wedding band singers, who despite having an honorable and justifiable (and in some cases envious) career, they are all too often the ‘performing monkeys.’

They are often fine vocalists but at the end of the day they are seeking approval and applause and not communicating or expressing anything artistic. They certainly know how to entertain but do they know how to intrigue? It’s a huge gap. Nothing remotely subtle about it as far as I am concerned.

Part 3 – Continued Tomorrow

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Chris Standring is a contemporary jazz recording artist who performs throughout the USA and Europe regularly. He has enjoyed much radio airplay with several albums, opening up a busy touring schedule. His music appears on many compilation CDs also. For more info on Chris’ popular home study jazz guitar course go to PlayJazzGuitar.com

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