There is a technique in buddhist meditation which is known by the term “Putting the result into the Path”. This basically means that you imagine/ act/think/ create/speak in the desired positive way- making a potentiality into something concrete and real. In others words- fake it till you make it! It is incredibly powerful for creating and sustaining new ways of thinking and behaving , I also find it very useful as a teaching tool to help my students grow with music and as people. But, as an emerging singer song writer I use it more broadly to envision where I would like to go and how I could be effective as a singer song writer. I allow my dreams and ideas to soar into the blue sky of potentiality and maybe, just maybe when they land back on earth some of them will take some kind of form in solid reality.
Some people might just think this is just too floaty but here is an example of how it worked. A while back I made my debut ep ( still not formally released as it’s journey into visibility is proving tricky- another story). Before I got to that point, I decided that I really wanted the beautiful duduk (an Armenian instrument) to be on two of the tracks. I dreamt up how it would sound and just knew that with the other instruments I was going to use that it would create a heart/soulscape of colour and emotion and spirit for the songs.
Now, living in north east Scotland in the middle of a barley field means that any musicians are hard to find, let alone an Armenian duduk player! Not likely to find one playing a ditty anywhere nearby, hidden behind a barley bale. So, I just put it out there and put it out on facebook that I had these two tracks and I wanted a duduk on them. I forgot about it and went on with all the usual things in life and then one day, eighteen months later a duduk player from Armenia- the torch bearer, even, of duduk players- got in touch with me. I got my duduk on my tracks, with the kind help of American manager, Larry Hurley – and it is as amazing as I knew it would be!
Music is one of those areas where we are always learning. As a singer/songwriter it is important to never stand still but to follow the creative flow which means being open to always learning, being humble, thinking out the box, experimenting. This allows new forms and dynamics and fusion to emerge. It encourages artistry and vision and is very exciting to work “in flow” with. I would love to do more of this in collaboration with other musicians. I would love to work with musicians like the ones in Lau- because they have a vision of creating a new idiom that has a rich sound tapestry to it that links old and new together, and the colours and dynamics are both rich, tight and spacious all at once. I would love to be developed enough to work with Mick Glossop, the producer who has been mentoring me patiently for the last two years.
Sometimes “Visioning” as I call it, is also useful because it keeps me in flow when times are tough and reality is proving very lumpy and porridgy with lots of obstacles that won’t move in my path. I have been visioning with some of my songs and have discovered other quirky instruments that I just know would sound fantastic in various songs I have written: some of these are the hand pan drums, crystal singing bowls (has to be crystal not metal- completely different emotional/ etheric resonance), a tamboura, a shruti box, a saxophone and various electronic sounds I have heard on other tracks but have no idea what they are called……and of course, I can’t remember the names of the songs that they are on (I am terrible at remembering names)! Of course I wouldn’t put them altogether at once- just in different tracks with more normal or early music instruments in different ways.
I got so excited about these hand pan/hang (?) drums that I though I would get one for my husbands birthday and that he could play them for me. He has excellent rhythm so I thought it would be fun. I thought that surely they can’t be very much money as they only look like upside down woks with lumps and bumps. But, I was very crestfallen when I looked them up. I think I would have to win some lottery money to get one! Never mind…..visioning is just about putting it out there…..
Part of my visioning goes beyond the musical and into the realms of what kind of songwriter I would like to be and how I could practically use it as a force for good in the world. A large part of me is always drawn to ideas of positive change, growth and creating sunshine and beauty in the world. Many of my songs have elements of these running through them in some form or another. So, I hope they in turn will go out and touch the listener in some way to do that in the patchwork of their lives and thoughts. Having music in films would both be financially sensible and help get me out of a poverty trap, and a good way of reaching lots of hearts and minds.
I also “vision” how I as a songwriter could do this in practical ways. This would require me to have some relative success. I would like to use my voice- both singing and speaking, for various humanitarian causes. I would like to encourage public awareness of those things through concerts and the written word and fundraising concerts. I would like to use my voice/ideas and beliefs to develop music education which needs generally overhauling into the twenty first century and needs to be regenerated in this country. I have seen how music grows people and I think it can be a transformative influence in peoples lives- particularly for those who have disadvantages or difficulties. I also believe music can be a power for peace . I am not really sure but I think there could be pathways and visions for that too.
I would like to keep learning the craft of songwriting and sharing it with others and encouraging new artists ( If I got established I would happily mentor new songwriters, it is so hard to get started and as a teacher I would find mentoring a delight). So far I am largely what I would call an intuitive songwriter rather than an intellectual one, but learning of all kinds is good and it would be great to have the opportunities to extend my knowledge and experience. For me this means being broad in my learning remit and experiental rather than specifically academic. For example,I have written a song which needs a touch of an Indian feel in it. So, I have found someone who knows about Indian ragas and she is teaching me the most humble basics of singing Indian scales. Totally interesting, new and a different kind of singing landscape. Very fascinating.
All of this needs to be tethered in reality by practical anchors that I have not got, nor got current access to- other musicians, the means to gig and promote those gigs, a manager, financial resources and growing connectivity. This requires input beyond myself. Becoming an artist is very much an interdependent thing- it requires all needed elements and different people to be brought together. The quote by John Donne fits here; “ no man” or in this case “ No artist is an island unto himself”, or in my case,” herself”.
This is my visioning: it can float out into potentiality and maybe like the tale of the duduk player….some of it will come back in some form or another. I hope so, in the mean time it helps me wade through the porridgy obstacles of becoming a singer songwriter! Please get back to me, like the duduk player if this connects with you!