The Art of Musicking – Interacting With MusicGuitarSpotting
WHAT IS MUSICKING?
How would you feel if I told you that you’re a musician, even if you can’t play a note?
Read on to learn why.
It’s clear that music has always been a part of human culture. Throughout our history, we’ve enjoyed and interacted with music in many different ways.
Now the world is a little more sophisticated in the modern age, but music has never been more popular.
When you interact with music, in any way, you are “musicking”, changing how the music is created or consumed. And increasing your engagement can make your life better.
Evolution of Music
Human society has morphed and evolved greatly over the last 200 years or so. Shared knowledge and new technologies have changed how humans live and interact in countless ways.
And the world of music is no exception.
From classical music written and performed by people like Mozart and Beethoven, through chain gangs and the blues, to the advent of recorded music in the 20th Century and the birth of rock and roll, music has continued to increase in popularity. Though the roots go much deeper than just a couple of centuries; humans have been singing and dancing for eons.
During the 1940s, the masses enjoyed several musical genres including swing, country and rhythm and blues. Pretty soon, rock and roll came along to amplify the sound, and supercharged everything. And pop music eventually splintered into the hundreds of musical genres we enjoy today.
Why do humans react so viscerally to music?
For one thing, there is obviously something primal about the beat. We all have a heart beating inside us, and innately recognize something familiar about the rhythm.
Even when you’re not actively listening to music, you’ll often find yourself tapping your toe or nodding your head to a song playing somewhere in the background.
And singing has always been a popular human activity, whether it involved written words or humming a melody. Music just enriches the body, mind and soul.
Many people, even those who adore popular music, have never learned how to play a musical instrument. Perhaps they feel it’s too hard, or time-consuming, or expensive.
And it’s true, it isn’t easy to learn, costs money and takes time.
Maybe this describes you. Perhaps you consider yourself a fan of music, but someone who will never be a musician. Because you’ll never be good enough.
But what most people don’t realize is that we’re already musicking, every single day.
Any activity involving or related to music performance, such as performing, listening, rehearsing, or composing.
If a song plays in the forest, does anybody hear it? Sound waves travel through the air and get converted into sound in your ears. So the very act of listening to music involves a physical interaction between the listener and the music itself.
Christopher Small coined the term “musicking” to describe the various ways that humans interact with music, physically and emotionally.
Think about it.
Dancing involves a physical reaction to a song’s beat and melody, unique to each individual person.
Karaoke is an obvious way to get inside a popular song and become the performer.
And of course, people have been singing church hymns for centuries. Or humming to themselves at home.
If you sing in the shower, you’re musicking. If a song is playing and you sway to the music or tap your feet, you’re musicking. Drum your fingers on the dashboard while listening to music in the car? Musicking! Sing along to the radio, or at a concert? You’re musicking. That song is a duet, baby! Play air guitar? Still musicking.
Now you’re part of the performance. The event that is taking place in your car, or your bedroom, or the gym, is unique to you. You’re interacting with the music, using your body and brain to create a new experience.
“To music is to take part, in any capacity, in a musical performance, whether by performing, by listening, by rehearsing or practicing, by providing material for performance (what is called composing), or by dancing. We might at times even extend its meaning to what the person is doing who takes the tickets at the door or the hefty men who shift the piano and the drums or the roadies who set up the instruments and carry out the sound checks or the cleaners who clean up after everyone else has gone. They, too, are all contributing to the nature of the event that is a musical performance.” – Christopher Small
Music is ritual, and part of our social fabric. And it always elicits a reaction or an emotion in the listener.
There are many other examples of people musicking:
Sailors singing sea shanties. Someone playing a song beside the campfire. Even military groups sometimes sing while marching.
Whether you’re in a nightclub, a supermarket, or an elevator, you’re surrounded by music and constantly reacting to it.
Live concerts are a great example of how music can unite a group of strangers. Think about why bands always encourage the audience to sing along, and walk out into the crowd. It’s a shared experience, unique to those in attendance.
Because a rock concert without an audience is just a rehearsal.
The audience makes it a performance. The band may play the songs a little differently each time, but of equal importance is the way that each individual audience has its own unique vibe.
So if you love music, you already interact and perform with it every day.
Now, many of us are here because we love guitars and rock music. But if you love any kind of music, why not try interacting with it in a more visceral way?
It’s never too late to expand your musical horizons. Learning to play a musical instrument certainly isn’t easy. But if you’ve always wanted to learn how to play one, why keep not doing it? Sure, it’s not easy, but it’s also not that hard. It really doesn’t cost that much. And it doesn’t have to take up that much time, either.
Every guitarist, even the most skilled players in the world, was once a beginner. You don’t want to let more years go by, then regret down the road that you didn’t try it sooner.
Because the good news is you’re already a musician!
Never Stop Learning
If you’ve always wanted to learn how to play guitar, there’s no better time to take action than right now. Thanks to the internet, there are all kinds of ways to learn, and many of these resources are free.
You don’t need to play like Jimi Hendrix. Nobody can. Just learn the basics, have some fun, and see where it takes you. And because each musical experience is unique, you will definitely learn to play like you.
Get a guitar, learn to play a few chords, maybe focus on learning how to play one song. Once you can comfortably play a song or two, you can pick up a guitar at a party or the campfire and surprise your friends. Just don’t tell ’em you can’t play anything else!
And just keep practicing.
Learning to play guitar is also a great opportunity to take a look inside your favorite songs. What chords and riffs did they play? What kind of tone did they use? What really makes the song tick? Study, absorb, and learn, and make the song your own. Even if you don’t play it “the right way”, so what? It doesn’t matter.
Every guitarist will tell you to interpret the song through your own personality, and develop your own style. You don’t need to play every song note for note. Just get started and practice until it sounds good to you.
Adding more music to your life will make you happier and healthier.
Now go do some musicking!
Check out my Best Beginner Guitar Guide for advice on picking the right guitar for you.