Technique vs. Message

“If we admire the music of a certain composer and having studied his style very thoroughly we draw up rules of musical composition based on this composer we then go to send our children to music school to learn these rules in the hope that if they apply them they will become first class musicians which they usually fail to do. What might be called the technique of music as well as the technique of morals, as well as the technique of speech and language is very valuable because it gives you something to express if, and I repeat if you have anything to express. But if you don’t, if you don’t have anything to say not even the greatest mastery of english will stand you in good stead unless you can manage to fool your listeners by talking beautiful nonsense and make it sound profound.”    -Alan Watts

I love this because I think it’s a profound insight not only with all the arts but with language and communication too.  Message will always dominate over technique.

I’ve done a lot of work with the technical side of music but it’s not more important to me than the message and the feeling of the words that I’m singing.

I’ll stand in the middle of my soul
It’s all that I have
Even if I’m the only one who believes
It’s not that I can’t pick it up and
Start it all over again
Sometimes it’s better to be alone

David Olney, a master songwriter and not the best singer or master of guitar technique died onstage a few days ago (*article here), and the meaning in his expression and his bravery for putting the words to page was his greatest achievement and contribution to the music world.