Sparking new sounds: Baking music at altitude

I grew up hating old-time country music. The sound of a wailing fiddle (not to be confused with a ‘shredding’ fiddle, which was close enough to metal virtuosity to be cool) would make me cringe every time. I wanted ‘heavy’. And that meant an electric guitar, an amp with distortion, drums and bass. And maybe a keyboard, but only if it was done right. (Think Deep Purple’s “Perfect Strangers”.)

These days, I’m still not much of a fan of country. Or bluegrass, though my respect for those players runs very deep. But I’m realizing that I can incorporate instruments not traditionally thought of as ‘heavy’ to make music that satisfies my sweet tooth.

Recently, it’s been Dave’s Ukulele.

It’s opening doors left and right. It has such a beautiful sound to me, and sits well in the mix alongside steel string guitars. And most importantly, it adds a sweetness to the clean acoustic parts that contrast beautifully with the humbucker/Boogie distortion. (Especially channel 3.)

I’m finding that there truly are no irrelevant instruments. If I open my heart and mind, I can find ways to incorporate accordion, ukulele, keys, kazoo… whatever. And the more instruments I’m able to spend quality time with, the more ideas come through, and the more interesting my music sounds to me. “Ukulele” doesn’t have to mean “Hawaiian”. “Tuba” doesn’t have to mean “polka”.

Truly, the only limitations to my music are those set by the bounds of my own imagination. All I have to do is climb out of the limiting box of my own perception, my own thoughts, my own history, and try things that I haven’t tried before.

Successful baking at high altitude requires strict adherence to a scientific recipe.

Unless we’re baking music.

How do YOU spark new creative ideas? What ‘crazy’ experiments have you conducted in the pursuit of interesting and delicious sounds?


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