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I woke up early this morning for some reason. Maybe it was a car that passed through the neighborhood or a dog barking that woke me or maybe it was the hand of the muse pushing me to get out of bed and see what she wanted me to see but, either way, I woke up early and I have been rewarded for the experience.
Part of my morning routine includes stepping outside to get some fresh air, drink a soda and make sure the world has survived another night of BP oil spills, terrorist attacks and politicians. Usually, I make my morning status check of the world an hour or so later when the sun is in the sky and the whole neighborhood is awake and moving but this morning I got to experience something totally unique…
As I stepped onto the front step, the sun was just starting to come up. The neighborhood was silent. No kids playing. No cars on the streets. Just silence. As I watched the beautiful night sky transforming into a multi colored sunrise, it was like watching one of the great artists at work, transforming colors and lines to create beauty.
The only thing missing, in my thought, was some great song, like the Sprach Zara Thrusta, to accompany this sunrise. Then, something else began to slowly dawn on me…. What I had perceived as silence before had sound all along. The change of the bird songs, the sounds of the occasional dog or cat and the slowly growing sound of a city waking up as the sun rose higher into the sky. After listening to the music created in the silence, I don’t think there is another song that could have been more perfect for the sunrise.
British born American Composer, Leopold Stokowski was once quoted to say “A painter paints his pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence. We provide the music, and you provide the silence.” I think a lot of us miss the impact of those words when we get involved in creating music. Sometimes, just taking that moment to reconnect and flush out all the noise in our heads and let the silence in is the best thing we can do for our music.
So I have a little challenge for all of you songwriters out there. Before you write your next song, or even if you’re working on one you can’t seem to get just right, set your alarm clocks and wake up with the sunrise. Go outside and just spend an hour watching God paint the sky while nature provides the music of silence.
It’s a rewarding experience that will help you clear your mind and come back to your work with some fresh ears and a fresh way of thinking. When you take the time to reconnect with the world around you and see the world through different eyes, it’s going to show in your music.
I look forward to hearing about your experience. Please leave comments and let me know how this works out for you and your thoughts. What other ways do you use to clear your mind and write great music?