#8: The Illusion of "Tradition"

“Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Seek what they sought.” Matsuo Basho

This is great advice for an artist.  Don’t let the medium become more important than the message.  Interacting with like-minded people in other mediums of art will show you this.  Traditions are created by free-thinking, risk-taking artists who use the materials of their time to express themselves.  If we try to emulate their art, we are missing the point that they were trying to express the intangible through the available mediums of their day.  Beethoven had the piano, Charlie Parker had the alto saxophone, today we have all kinds of electronic instruments.  We can look at the music of Beethoven and appreciate its genius but it helps us to remember that the piano was the greatest technology of his day.  It would be silly for us to neglect all of the new ways that we can experiment with sound because Beethoven wrote such great music for the piano.  Imagine what a radical and innovative artist like Beethoven or Charlie Parker would be doing today.  You can study their music and learn from it but don’t make it gospel.  They certainly wouldn’t.