ARTICLE: Persistence & Patience. What Composers Can Learn From Fishermen.
Fishing is one of the earliest known human activities and can be found across all cultures and climates. This is also true of music, and while on the surface these two activities may not seem to have many similarities, there is actually a huge amount that composers can learn from fishermen.
Catching fish and writing music both require patience, discipline, persistence and a decent amount of luck.
In this article we will break down what composers can learn from fisherman, and hopefully give you some practical advice that you can apply to your own work as a composer.
Whilst fishing is most definitely a leisure activity in the modern era, for most of our collective history it was a practical activity solely concerned with putting food on the table.
For the fishermen of yesteryear coming home empty handed was not an option, and whilst they were at the mercy of natural forces such as wind & weather patterns, it was through the power of persistence that fishermen were able to overcome these obstacles.
Fishermen learned that to get angry at the weather or the fish for not biting was a completely futile exercise, and they developed mindset of “Better luck tomorrow”. Come rain or shine they would get up before dawn and head out to sea, working their hardest to return back to shore with a full catch.
It should be the same with writing music. You can’t just rely on inspiration. You need to show up every day and put in the work and develop a process that will deliver consistent results. When we show up day after day, we become less reliant on the elusive flashes of “Inspiration” and can instead forge our own path forward.
When we sit and play an instrument we are in a sense ‘casting out a net” into the sea of musical possibilities.
Patience is crucial in fishing. If you want to catch the big fish you have to endure hours and hours of waiting. Some fisherman will return time and time again to the exact same spot just for a chance at netting the elusive prize catch.
It's the same with music. When we sit down at the piano and improvise, we are in a sense ‘casting out a net” into the sea of musical possibilities, hoping to pull out a melody, motif or phrase that can form the basis of a composition.
Sometimes a certain sound or idea can spark our imagination and lead us somewhere exciting. Other times we may play around with the same idea for a while without finding much progress. It may be a particular chord combination, or a little detail, something you keep coming back to but have yet to work into anything substantial. The bottom line is that we have to allow time for our musical ideas to develop and bloom.
Try and get into the mindset of the patient fisherman. By being patient you are putting yourself in the strongest position to strike when the time is right. You're a composer after all, so good ideas are going to come around from time to time, you just have to make sure you are ready to run with them when they do.
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