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Music and community Part 1



Following on from my previous blog outlining the sense of community and camaraderie we derive from our music relationships, this week I will look in more depth at how musicking (more specifically playing with others - especially bands) can help to provide a support when things get messy in the music world.

Within the camaraderie of groups and bands there is always tension but ultimately there is an abundance of support. The research surrounding this phenomenon suggests how being in a band or group of musicians prompts less anxiety when compared to playing solo or going it alone. I know this was certainly true for myself when I compare my band touring experiences to my solo performances or being out and about as a DJ flying around the world. There was an innate familial (albeit slightly destructive at times) essence when we were all journeying together. Good shows were amplified, bad shows were shouldered in unison. It felt far less painful in a group, it was a bigger chin to ‘take it on’, it was easier to muster a shrug of the shoulders, ‘oh well there’s always next time’ or celebrate the glory with the gang. The ruminative internal dialogue we all try to escape from can grip very tightly when touring solo. All the nuanced mistakes, the wrong words, the out of tune guitar, the irksome pitching when hitting that ninth in the most technically difficult song I have ever written. Why did I even choose to play that song after a 10-hour travel journey to Slovakia, running on no sleep, sugar and adrenaline from a 6am Luton-airport-red-eye-flight. These things are always eased when with others, similar to life in general. We know that relationships (when safe enough) help us to regulate our emotions and thought processes in a way we can’t do alone (solo). This often-overlooked aspect of band relationships was highlighted in some (relatively) recent research involving a young rock band in the US. The research described how the musicians viewed their joint journey as a mutual sacrifice with soul mates, although (as a caveat) this was subsequently articulated as a pseudo ‘marriage’ of sorts, which captures the ups and downs of these anchoring relationships (depending how you look at it!).

Although the musicians did mention other stressors of playing with others, the benefits seemingly outweighed the stress! This again reiterated my own experience of playing and touring with others in a group with a mutual goal, providing a support and safety when compared to my solo touring or DJing ventures. This brings to mind the recent unsavoury digital attacks on the artist Billy Nomates, she had to shoulder the trolling alone, it shouldn’t happen but it inevitably will in the internet wild west, a group of band mates may have helped deal with those blows perhaps…

I think we need others….we just need to be mindful of who they are and make sure we find a relational balance with others that suits us.

This blog has been reposted from Tonic Music. To see more of my writing go here.





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