by Dave Latchaw
Fusion is an event that produces a union. Musically, for years “Fusion” described music that blends jazz and the heavy repetitive rhythms of rock. To me, Fusion is the union of a multitude of combinations of different musical influences and musicians to create something new, or bring new ideas to old music. The spirit of Fusion with music, musician, and audience is necessary to develop of fresh unique performances. Being a “Fusion” minded musician is not easy to do because society trained by mass marketing consume products clearly labeled. New approaches to old music and creating new music is just not as easy to market.
In a performance there needs to be a union between the music, musicians, and audience to create the ideal musical event for all. Musicians that train for years to play their axe learn to play many various styles of music. Being able to play in many styles is important for the evolving musician because they can bring more to each of their performances. This can aid in making the musical event more of a special occasion. Sometimes, musicians who play the same material over and over are apt to go on autopilot when performing, because the music has become easy for them, and boring. When an artist is on autopilot and fails to connect with the music the listener becomes lost in musical oblivion. Inspired by your music is the musician’s responsibility. Inspiration creates a collectively wonderful experience for the union of the music, musicians and audience.
To develop creatively, one has to take the total range of their musical influences and experiences, and blend all that into their own voice. How one mixes their musical soup is the way they develop their own sound and style. Musicians can learn to sound like someone else, but the real kick is to develop your own thing. One can spend hours studying one person or another and begin to take on those studied qualities in their own playing. You can learn all the licks in the world, but when playing you have to filter all that information through you, your own way. Taking the whole range of one’s musical experience is an essential part of the creative process. If one doesn’t do this they are just repeating what has come before. That’s cool if you are trying to recreate some historical aspect of music, and it’s important educationally to understand what has come before, although I think if Bach or Mozart were around today they would think, “Why is this being played the same way it was hundreds of years ago?”. The more engaged one is with developing their voice, the more inspired they will sound when either creating new music or performing old music.
Without the Fusion of musical ideas and directions, Miles would not have changed the face of jazz so many times, or we wouldn’t have had the collaboration of Aerosmith with Run - DMC doing “Walk This Way”, both cool in their own ways. The spirit of Fusion allows for innovation, which is healthy for music. It takes persistence from an artist to have success as an innovator, especially if they are not already famous. Being famous makes it easier to market an artistic whim. Developing your own thing should be an artist’s prime motivation. Sounding like yourself can bring great satisfaction, and if you can make money doing that, even better, but money should not be your motivation.
Fusing different genres of music makes for more of a marketing challenge because of the unfamiliar qualities that makes the music unique. The reason pop music all sounds pretty much the same is because it becomes familiar to consumers, and is easy to label for the retail market. Mass marketing has led to the unavailability of much of the really creative music that is out in the world today. Marketing costs are so extreme that it’s more beneficial for record companies to only promote known commodities. The fusion artist has to educate them self on promoting and selling their creative music. The more efficient the Internet becomes, the better the chances that creative fusion-minded artists will have a chance of finding a market for their musical endeavors. Creative types are often put off about the financial aspects of their art. If one can get over that and spend some time on getting your music out there, they might have a chance to make some money. Making money is how an artist can support their creative habit.
The Internet can be a perfect fusion of global artistic influences and markets for creative activities. Educate yourself, your friends and fans and lets put a dent in the boring crap the mass marketers want us to think is cool!