Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Gold Standard

Pink Floyd. 1971. Live in Pompeii. In my opinion, this band, at this stage of their career, is about as close as you will get to a 'gold standard' of progressive rock music. In any of their filmed live performances of the period, their absorption in what they do is absolute and one hundred percent. There are no attempts to connect with the audience. In fact, for 'Live in Pompeii', there is no audience (except for a few village kids, who allegedly hid out of sight). The band became their music. In one performance, you would see Dave Gilmour stepping up to Roger Waters mid-performance to re-tune his bass guitar. In another, Roger Waters adjusts his phrasing to cover the instance of Nick Mason dropping a drumstick. Everything they do is a playful exploration of shaping sound. Elements such as shredding speed or vocal range do not even come up. Those are cheap tricks for lesser bands to employ. If the music calls for a specific note at a specific time, one of the band members will find some way of bringing it in - and it hardly matters which one of them it is, or how he did it...

There's a couple of things that's been on my mind for the past few months with regards to creative expression:

- reading up (for a writing assignment) about the Renaissance, a time when some of the world's most amazing constructions sometimes took generations to complete.
- listening to Neil Gaiman comparing the early part of his career to 'sending out messages in bottles and hoping some of them would come back'
- my own withdrawal from participation in a certain popular social network - for reasons I won't go into right now.

And again and again, it seems to bring me back to thoughts about audiences and the creative process...

A good creative artist becomes the work and disappears into it. Speaking about my own craft now, telling a good story is less about using clever words and sentences and more about making the walls of the existing world vanish. The best writer is the one who becomes invisible within the first three sentences of the story. That would be my personal 'gold standard' and to me, the only way to achieve this, is to forget that there is an audience.