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February 2024
Vol. 23, No. 5
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The Alchemy of Music

Into the World

by Astra KellyJanuary 2024

Mostly I’ve been writing about the mystical and magical aspects of music and songwriting. This column will be more practical, albeit equally as alchemical. The transformation process that wanting to take your musical performance out into the world is often pretty grand. It is both an internal and external journey that is taken on ALL levels…spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically.

First, you make noise that becomes music. Maybe it’s a just a note, a painful plink on the strings or an awkward hit on the drums. Maybe it’s singing in the shower or the car. Maybe it’s a poem that you know could be a song or dreaming of music you’ve never heard before. Something inspired you to play. You put some time in and are thinking, “hey I might be pretty good maybe sorta.” You play for your dog, then your wife, then your best friend, and none of them told you that you sucked. They even seemed impressed…but they’re biased.

Second, you find a thread of confidence in your abilities. You wanted it to get better, so you practiced, and made progress. Ever think, “Wow! That performer/player makes it look so easy!?” That’s hours upon hours, days and nights, and years of honing their craft! Learning to play an instrument is not easy. If it was, everyone would be jammin’. It’s incredibly therapeutic and cathartic if you can get to a point where you don’t have to work so hard doing it though.

Third, you build up callouses and maybe even take a few lessons. You might’ve learned some stuff about rhythm, melody, and taking care of your instrument. You buy a PA and put on a show (or 20) in the living room. You say to yourself, “I think I’m ready to take this show out into the world!” Now what? That’s a point many players never get to, but the ones that do? What a journey it has been. For many, creating that space and committing to a musical conquest can raise questions within. Am I doing this right? Why am I doing this? Where is this going? Am I any good? The honing of the craft and the building up of courage and confidence to make musical noise are in step with each other always. Then taking the stage, phew….that can feel like the wild, wild west. Nervousness can make you shudder, pee your pants, have anxiety for days, totally mess it all up, talk stupid, act weird, and cry. To overcome all of that just to get on stage and play a song or two. Now that’s power. The power of music to challenge fear and make us feel deeply (whether we’re listening or playing) is like nothing else.

So, you’ve got a few tunes to play out in the world? Find an open mic, a song circle, a bon fire, a party, an open jam, a street corner, or a park bench and make your noise! Send those sound waves out as far as you can and do it with love and reverence. We are listening.

***I guess I’m still talking about the magical and mystical musical things. So be it.

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