As musicians, we’re sometimes in the position of performing for an audience, whether in-person or through video, live streaming, or whatever. And when we’re performing we’re not alone: there’s an audience and this brings with it a very important question.
What’s our goal as performers?
I think we all have to make decisions as performers, and composers, as to what we’re aiming for.
If it’s self-expression on our own terms, this is valid and we can simply write or perform what we want to. Our song is like it is now and if this is the goal, and we enjoy it, then there’s no need to alter it. We’ll simply play what we want and how we want to play it. If people like it, that’s fine. And if they don’t like it, that’s fine too.
In another sense, we can take the other route and think about the experience of the listener. But without pandering to that experience. It’s kind of like the difference between most poetry that’s written nowadays and the poetry of a great poet like Emily Dickinson, Maya Angelou or Robert Frost. They certainly wrote what they wanted to express, but they did it in a way that “maximized vibrancy,” one could say. They didn’t dumb it down or betray themselves in any way, but they expressed themselves in a way that ensured a heightened experience for their readers or listeners.
We don’t always have to do this, but if we choose to do so, we may find that we’re tapping into a larger slice of humanity than might be otherwise possible.
Enjoy the journey, and “let the music flow!”