Every time a woman mentions being quizzed on music theory, or band knowledge, or any of the countless minutia that get brought up to make women feel like they aren’t worthy of their musical dreams, and she implies “of COURSE I know those things”, I feel like a failure.
Because I don’t.
I’ve just never naturally connected with music through my head, and I’ve often resented the way that music gets dissected and the magic leeched out of it when it is broken down into formulas, numbers, and factoids.
I’ve FELT music. I can feel it when a note clicks. You can catch me songwriting with my head cocked to the right as if listening for when the melody or chord or harmonies before they occur. Listening to music that isn’t quite born yet, is still in the void.
I’ve intuited lyrics – often through images flashing through my mind when I am trying to anticipate where the song would like to go.
And songs, even after I’ve written them, feel alive to me. Sometimes they would like to be played slow, or fast, or jazzy, and if I try to impose my judgement on them my fingers will twist, or the words will get tangled in my mouth.
I’ve been inspired by the ritual of performance, costumes, and even mythology around certain bands or performers– but I suppose I’ve always thought of that as just good story telling, divorced from the actual mortals. I’m simply NOT the type that is particularly interested in what model of guitar so and so used for this or that recording.
Not that that information can’t be helpful or meaningful. Not that an extensive background in music theory or meticulously structured songwriting can’t be helpful. I just don’t think it needs to be a one size fits all thing.
The reality is, if a song is good in my opinion, it’s because I like the way it stirred my emotions, and that, I believe *is* universal. That’s why music is so subjective. We’ve all got different relationships to different sounds.
The way that I interact with music is distinctly, archetypally feminine. Not in that only women have this relationship with music, but that BECAUSE this behavior is more in the emotions and the body, it is associated with women and is perceived to be less valid. It is also, by the way, how people for many millennia and continuing into the present in less Eurocentric cultures create music.
Like the Left Hand vs. Right Hand paths to enlightenment – it is possible to engage masterfully with music through emotion and intuition and the body, and it is also possible to engage masterfully with music in a diligently disciplined and logical way. And the most interesting music generally happens when both creative types are working together and letting their skills compliment each other.
If we decide that insider-ness requires knowing the answers to the pop culture sphinxes, we lose out on the vitality, magic, and depth of letting music live THROUGH us. We limit not only who feels allowed to enjoy music (or the music they feel safe to enjoy) but HOW people express that relationship.
(P.S. If I accomplish only one thing with these fucking blogs I hope it is to make it utterly uncool to just stand around at live shows unless it is for actual health reasons)