Great Advice From Great Minds - Part 3


This time we will look at 3 exceptional artists, who while different, are also very similar in their drive to create. While none of them are musicians, they all worked closely with music and musicians, as well as related art forms. Their ideas and advice are applicable to anyone working in the arts.




Jean Cocteau (1889-1963) was a French writer, designer, playwright, artist and filmmaker. He was friends with, and worked with, such artists as Pablo Picasso and Igor Stravinsky. His works were widely praised for their originality and depth.
An original artist is unable to copy. So he has only to copy in order to be original.
Art is a marriage of the conscious and the unconscious.
Art is not a pastime but a priesthood.
When a work appears to be ahead of its time, it is only the time that is behind the work.
Be yourself. The world worships the original.
Cocteau's thoughts are to the point. Art is not a pastime but a priesthood. We must think of what we do as more then just a pastime, we must be devoted to it. It is a sacred endeavor that requires our full attention. Be yourself. The world worships the original. Think of your idols/heroes, whether they are Buddy, Elvin, Peart, Bonham, or someone else, the thing that attracts you to them is their originality. They are not like anyone else! Be your own self, your own artist, and not just a copy of those you admire.




Alan Watts (1915 - 1973) was a British born philosopher, writer and speaker who is best known for popularizing the ideas of Zen and Buddhism in the West, especially America. He is especially known for his many books, and his lectures, many of which were filmed or recorded, and are still available today. Watts had a way of distilling ancient Eastern thought in a practical way for application today. 

Advice? I don't have advice. Stop aspiring and start writing. If you're writing, you're a writer. Write like you're a goddamn death row inmate and the governor is out of the country and there's no chance for a pardon. Write like you're clinging to the edge of a cliff, white knuckles, on your last breath, and you've got just one last thing to say, like you're a bird flying over us and you can see everything, and please, for God's sake, tell us something that will save us from ourselves. Take a deep breath and tell us your deepest, darkest secret, so we can wipe our brow and know that we're not alone. Write like you have a message from the king. Or don't. Who knows, maybe you're one of the lucky ones who doesn't have to.
Watts could just as easily said musician instead of writer here. If you want to be a drummer/percussionist, then just do it. And do it like it's the most important thing in your life.
This is the real secret of life - to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.
Echoes of Cocteau and many others. BE COMPLETELY ENGAGED. Do it. Devote yourself to it. There are no secrets, no short cuts. Just do it.
No one imagines that a symphony is supposed to improve in quality as it goes along, or that the whole object of playing it is to reach the finale. The point of music is discovered in every moment of playing and listening to it. It is the same, I feel, with the greater part of our lives, and if we are unduly absorbed in improving them we may forget altogether to live them.
Be in the moment. Don't be thinking about what you just played, or what you will play, think about the notes you are playing, and give them your all. Music is a living entity and it only lives in the moment. When you inhabit that moment, your audience does also.




Twyla Tharp (1941-) is one of America's greatest dance choreographers. Her work has been performed around the world by the greatest dance companies. She is also the author of the remarkable book, The Creative Habit (which I highly recommend!). She also collaborated with former Talking Head, David Byrne, on the Broadway show, The Catherine Wheel.
Creativity is a habit, and the best creativity is the result of good work habits.
You don't get into the mood to create – it's discipline.
You can only generate ideas when you put pencil to paper, brush to canvas... when you actually do something physical.
After so many years, I've learned that being creative is a full-time job with its own daily patterns. That's why writers, for example, like to establish routines for themselves.

If you devote yourself and are engaged, you will have discipline to work on your art. You will also find that you need to have a routine, a practice, everyday in order to keep things moving ahead.
What is music about? You can't listen to one era, one composer, and know what music is about.
Don't live in a world with blinders on! Yes, you may really be into one type of music, one band, but you need to expand your horizons and listen to everything. This will broaden your experience and give you more ideas and inspiration. And don't stop there, pay attention to all the arts. Read books and poetry, view paintings and sculptures, watch films, attend dance recitals, and even try other art forms out for yourself. This doesn't dilute your musical experience, rather, it enriches it and gives you more to draw from as a source of inspiration and ideas. 





The best musicians and artists are not one-dimensional. They have many facets that are connected and feed each other. They live with a wider world view. 
~MB

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