Saturday, January 14, 2012

Performing Live Music in an Artistic Environment

The opening reception for "Figuratively Speaking" at the Art Association of Harrisburg (13JAN12) was a magical experience where you could "feel the love".

Performing live in a small environment, like an artist's opening reception, gives an opportunity to experiment with ambient music.

Off the stage and on the floor, the showmanship aspect of music is minimized. In a very real way, the art of music is emphasized. It may be obvious to say, but the art feeds art. Being surrounded by visual art adds a different sense of purpose to the performing art.

Plus, the energy of the art patrons is so positive. The attendees at an artist's opening reception are a slice of people that are open to new ideas and creativity.

That enables a building of energy that gives a more direct connection to the people who are listening to the music created in front of them.  The interaction is direct and "in your face". There is an incredible sense of immediacy to the performance of music.

Any musician who has to deal with the technology of mixing sound for a stage performance and interfacing with a light show knows that there is a level of distraction associated with the mechanics of translating the music into a big show.  Is the monitor mix right?  Is the guitar too loud? Can all the vocalists hear themselves.  Is the audience hearing a decent mix?

There is a sensory overload that can be overcome only by letting the music come out by playing in "automatic mode".  The rest of the brain is occupied trying to balance everything mentally, making sure that the sequence of light cues is being followed.  The active brain is paying more attention to the script for the show than to the music.

In a small, artistic environment, the concentration can be on the music.  Yet, the appreciative audience provides a level of feedback that ensures a build-up of the energy level associated with the production of music that moves people.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Musical Landscapes

When composing music, I often visualize a landscape of musical textures. Underneath everything is a pastel wash, often called a pad.  This background sound is very quiet - just enough to cover the noise floor.  It tingles up into the main sound like the leaves of grass in this picture.  It blends and supports the other things that you hear in the composition.

The main sound - the essence of the melody - is played with sounds that are central to the listener's attention.  These are the trees in the photo.  The melody is stated and re-stated and modified with chord progressions that parallel the pad.

The bass and drum sounds provide a background, like the mountains above.  They support the sound but usually don't overwhelm it.  For those really dramatic pieces, there might be might be crags and rock outcroppings, but this picture represents the softer, more tranquil side of music.

Harmonies and descants float like clouds in the skies with accents of light and beauty.  It seems that much more work goes into crafting these parts.  They must fit perfectly if they are to make a musical piece of integrated beauty.

Monday, February 23, 2009


We are like the grass of a field and our glory is like the flowers.

You can take that in two ways.

Grass can be trampled underfoot by whoever walks on it. The flowers are temporary - transient and passing.

Yet, the grass provides comfort to those who walk on it. The flowers provide beauty in this world. Our real meaning in life comes from the service and beauty we provide to others.

If we think of ourselves as being trampled underfoot, we are being selfish - only looking at the world through our own eyes. But, by the very sacrifice of being trampled underfoot, we provide comfort. Isn't that an interesting view of the dualistic vision of life.

So much of our existence is a reflection of how we view it.

Our current economic situation is like that. As a country, we have perceived of ourselves as being poor.

Out of fear, we have decided to put off buying new cars, so the auto makers are in real trouble. To save money, our society has decided not to eat out as much, so we don't spend money at restaurants.

It falls like dominoes.

Restaurants close. The restaurant suppliers have reduced business. Servers, cooks, salesmen, warehouse people, cleaning staff, accountants and owners all suffer. People get laid off.

All because of perception.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Love or Power

We have choices in life. We can approach life by means of power or by means of love. Power means being in control. You force circumstances to do your will for the benefit of yourself. That usually involves people. So, you have to force people to do your will to be in control.

On the other end of the spectrum, you can use love. You can offer yourself completely. When two people agree to do this with each other, it is the greatest love that can be experienced between humans.

The practical reality seems to make us defensive. Can we trust? Can we surrender ourselves to another or do we negotiate a compromise. When you open yourself to love you become most vulnerable. Surrender exposes us to the possibility of pain. People who like to be in control can hurt us. This is when love hurts.

Yet, when you loose yourself in total surrender, you become the happiest. Think of the peak experiences in your life. At your happiest, dont you loose your sense of self? Love takes over the senses and you want to do whatever the other person wants to do. Anyone who has been in love knows that.

Its a beautiful thing when you can spend time surrendered to another that you love and you trust that person to surrender their self to you.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Spiritual Energy

We all have different forms of energy that we can use. Some of those energies are used more than others.

Physical energy gets us out of bed in the morning and becomes a platform for much of what we do. For that reason, we often focus on the physical energy. We often forget what drives the physical energy.

Mental energy helps us make decisions about how we use our physical energy. But often, we go into automatic mode. These are habits. Unfortunately we loose communication in our relationships because even conversation becomes a habit. Conversation becomes stimulus/response instead of using the opportunity for creativity.

Emotional energy comes from a deep well of our past. How we have been loved affects how we love.

Often the least used energy is spiritual energy. Spritual energy can be a platform for positive change. At its best, spiritual energy is a fire of passion. Passion is best communicated through music, because there are few words that can describe the passion of spiritual energy.

Spiritual energy is the best driver of love.

Click Here to learn more about Kent Courtney

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Kent Courtney Music

Trust and Love

En français:

Confiance et amour.

Nous pensons souvent à la confiance et à l'amour comme fidélité dans un rapport. Ce concept peut être superficiel. La confiance dépasse celle. Quand vous vous ouvrez jusqu'à quelqu'un, vous faites confiance à cette personne avec la partie la plus profonde de vous-même. Vous exposez votre âme. Vous devenez vulnérable. Vous faites confiance à un niveau intime. Vos espoirs, rêves et même votre croissance en tant qu'humain deviennent sujet à la personne que vous aimez. Des moyens de confiance vous pouvez vous ouvrir à l'autre. C'est une rue bi-directionnelle. La personne que vous aimez ouvre leur noyau à vous, aussi. Si vous faites confiance à quelqu'un à ce niveau, ils sentent également la confiance de vous.

In English:

Trust and love

We often think of trust and love as fidelity in a relationship. That concept can be superficial. Trust goes beyond that. When you open yourself up to someone, you trust that person with the deepest part of yourself. You expose your soul. You become vulnerable. You trust on an intimate level. Your hopes, dreams and even your growth as a human become subject to the person that you love. Trust means you can open yourself to another. It is a two-way street. The person that you love opens their core to you, also. If you trust someone at this level, they also feel trust from you.