Ever since I was a young boy, stylistic classifications in music have meant absolutely nothing to me. At a young age, some of my favorite pieces were Ravel‘s Bolero, “Peggy Sue” (Buddy Holly), “El Paso” (Marty Robbins), “In The Mood” (Glenn Miller), “Charley Brown” (The Coasters), and Air On A G String (Bach). That about covers the whole spectrum of Western music right there. Later in life, I became familiar with Indian, Turkish, Arabic and Chinese music as well… these styles just made my enjoyment of music that much deeper. And, as my studies increased on the guitar in my mid twenties, I often found myself playing Charlie Parker, Sabicas, Merle Travis, Albert King, and Tarrega in one day’s span. Today, as a busy freelance guitarist, I move from plays to concerts with Japanese koto players to Brazilian jazz to classic rock bands to my own microtonal compositions in 19 or 34 tones per octave…to me, there is no difference.
And, the reason there is no difference is simple: all music (all ART, period) has, at it’s core, one common denominator…self expression, telling a story. Differences in musical expression are cultural, and within a culture, regional. Béla Bartók may sound different than Hank Williams, but the end result is the same…getting a message across; one artist uses an orchestra, one uses a guitar and voice. And, it is impossible for me to say one is “better” than the other. If an Arabic musician feels sad, and a blues musician feels sad, the same emotion is being expressed; only the OUTER form is different. Therefore, in my art today, I feel quite at ease drawing on all of my life’s experiences when I express my own inner landscape. If I need to write a blues, I will…if I write for acoustic guitar and flute, that’s not an issue for me. If I am able to express myself in a true and moving way, that’s all I care about. To paraphrase Duke Ellington, there’s only two kinds of music, good and bad.