Make It Your Own

Music is most powerful when the artist makes it his own. Music is also the most original when the artist takes custody over the style and interpretation of the instrument. Music becomes a living and breathing motion when the musician is not held back by the instrument, but instead is pushed forward by the instrument. These are the things that went through my head after I watched the Tiny Desk Concert with Edmar Castaneda.

Castaneda is a harpist from Columbia and has managed to find his own musical style within the limitations of his instrument. A mentor of mine introduced me to this video, and I began watching expecting a smooth classical piece, decorated with arpeggios and pizzicatos alike. Instead, I was happily surprised by a joyful jazz sound that sprung from the strings of the harp.

In the video, Edmar Castaneda demonstrated two of his unique musical styles, the normal Columbian way and his original way. The Columbian way was shown first and it was incredible to hear. It was also fascinating to watch him passionately perform as his hands moved like spiders on the strings and the sound vibrated the laptop speakers.  Following this, his own original musical flavor was then demonstrated. Interestingly enough, the artistry of his own style simply built upon and amplified all the elements of the Columbian style tenfold.

Castaneda showed me that when you put your heart and soul into your music, you can enhance your music with your own original flavor and sound. When you choose to see your instrument as an extension of you, and not as an entity of its own, there is a fascinating synergy that can be created. That lesson is one that applies to all art forms. As artists, our job is to become one with our medium; to suffer, rejoice, and get angry with our work. A good artist learns to become completely indulged in his art, so that he can make something organic and new that subverts expectations.

by Christian Davis