Lost in Space


My favorite musicians often go unnoticed because they tend to underplay.

There is a care over each note chosen and like an endangered species in the jungle all their senses are awake and ready for what may be hiding and waiting ahead.

Space is beautiful because it is not full of stuff. We gaze into space. If the sky above us was cluttered with balloons, low hanging satellites and flying objects perhaps we would gaze elsewhere.

Perhaps too we would have to rename space.218_space_beer

Have you ever been at a party and casually walked into a lovely quiet room just to be alone with a friend. You sit down on the lounge and admire the fireplace and the sketches on the wall, you sip your wine and chat about the day and a part of you would like this moment to last forever. Then there is a rush of noise because a party of revelers have found you and soon the space is full. Your space has been violated. The moment is gone and you look out the window to see if anyone is in the garden. Maybe you can find a little space to yourselves out there.

The desire for space, or room to breathe is part of our human design.

We fill our lives with stuff while our inner beings crave space. We can live in denial until that magic week away camping in the mountains or long walk in the forest or deserted beach. In these still moments something dead is resurrected in us.

The picture of the living room is how I like to create and develop music. I want there to be space around each musician just as if they were positioned in different parts of the room. The gap of physical space between each player also represents the air between the notes, chords, beats, words and so on. The room is beautiful because there is just the right mixture of objects, people and ‘space’. If just one musician plays more than his/her share then it is as if we have added another musician. If everyone decides that they have more to give and this all happens at once then we have created a crowded space with no room for the audience.

The person who can live in the fast lane and yet still create space in his/her art is a rare breed. But it is very doable if you can make the discovery that true space and or quietness starts within us.

When working with a group of students I will often start a lesson with a large blank sheet of paper. Depending on the topic or interest I will point to the blank space and say “Lets pretend we have never written a song, performed a concert, been to Church, worked in a company etc… and lets build this thing together as if it’s the first time for all of us”.

This is a great workshop… with the idea being that you only ever add an element (a word, an action, a sound and so on) that helps the event or production fulfill its purpose. It can be a challenge for most people to start with the white sheet of paper… you know… actual space. We all have many habitual space invaders that demand our attention… but many are sheep in wolves clothing… and should be ejected from the party.

Another great exercise is to do this in reverse… as in write everything on the (once) blank piece of paper that occupies our daily lives.

If we are honest and add everything (and I mean everything) it soon looks a mess.

And so how do we make our lives more simple, more beautiful, having time to be with the ones we love?

We have to get rid of stuff from our lives.

Same rule for making music.

We need more space.

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  1. Shhhh… my dulcimer is breathing.

    I have musician friends I’d love to share this with, but I’m afraid they won’t get it… they seem afraid of space, afraid of the blank page. I must confess though, at times I might make to much noise just so they know that I’m there. How do I get them to relax in the living room? Tea instead of coffee?

    Chris, you are still my friend even though I haven’t communicated lately. I still hear your music… out there in space.

  2. Chris, You are dead on with this. I moved to a new church and inherited a new worship band. Not only was there no space the volume was always on 10 for our sanctuary. 2 years in and we’ve cut volume not notes.

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