Keeping Your Sanity: Getting Started in the Music Business, Part IV

Written by Imani Wj Wright 

As most of us may already know, crafting and mastering a skill takes a lot of time, hard work and dedication. Over three different periods in my life, I have had the opportunity to delve into the book “Outliers,” written by author Malcolm Gladwell. In this book, I read about the theory of the “10,000-Hour Rule,” which has stuck with me since I was 10 years old. Gladwell writes that if you practice a craft for 20 hours a week over a time span of 10 years, you will become a master at that skill.

However, I have come to realize that you don't always have to be on task to be on task. In Part IV of this series, I want to focus on how using other mediums of art can influence, inspire and enhance whatever your current art form may be. By that I mean I don't always have to use music as my only resource to becoming a better musician. My father has always told me, “You don't have to eat hair to grow hair.”

Having several visual artists in my circle, I've have been able to engage in many conversations in relation to the use of light— lighting in photography, film and even paintings. The trend that seemed to be consistent in these conversations was how one can convey a mood or message by the choice of lighting. Being a musician, I obviously don’t use light as a tool for setting the mood in a song but I have started to mold my sound by specific choice of timbre, tone and color in my voice. I am no longer just singing to “sound good,” I am now creating a more dense and complex sound, styled more dynamically than before.

Muammar Muhammad, a guitarist with a hub based in Baltimore has performed in New York, San Francisco, Florida, Denver and Chicago over these last few months. I caught up with him recently to ask if and how he uses other mediums of art to influence or propel his music.

“As a musician, my ultimate goal is to venture into world music. As the name implies, I wanna subject myself to various cultures and traditions around the world centered around music, Muhammad said. “I am a huge anime fan, and if it’s one thing I learned from anime, it would be the way their culture is always on front display. I learned about Japanese religion, their political system, their educational system, the food, their entertainment, and of course their music. A lot of the music played throughout anime is heavily western-based with heavy rock instrumentation. Not only that, but they also combine western music with their own traditional music to fuse what is known as J-pop or J-rock. I have been watching and listening to anime and the various soundtracks from them for well over a decade. It’s safe to say that it has been a major influence in the way that I create my own music.”

This exposure to other forms of art isn't just important to musicians. I had an opportunity to catch up m.ello, a talented poet on tour in St. Petersburg, Florida, a few months ago. I asked her a very similar question to the one I asked Muhammad because I wanted to know how other art forms influenced her. This is what she had to say about the way music influences her poetry:

“Poetry and music are both about feeling something— anything. When I write, I write out of that internal movement, that same heavy feeling of a song, starting low, then ending with crescendo. There have been times where I hear the same chorus over and over in my head and I start singing it low in the kitchen, for example. Those words become a thread that finds it’s way gently from my heart, winding through my arms until it reaches the tips of my fingertips, electric. This is where I find a pen. This is where I scribble the lines until it becomes different, the shadow of a song. My heart, the generator will take the notes and flip them into poetry.”

So artists out there, the next time you see a movie, check out a painting or listen to song, do it with a purpose.

Follow Muammar Muhammad on Instagram @mim0630 and m.ello @by_m.ello

In the meantime... Stay Virtuous. Stay Idealistic. Stay Progressive. 

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