by Marc Piane

When Joe posed the question of what got me into music, my mind went to the whole nature vs. nurture debate. Then I started thinking about muses and divine inspiration and the universe. Then I remembered I am a general agnostic, a person that believes that nothing is truly knowable and everything is up for debate, and breathed a sigh of relief. I say a sigh of relief because a belief the question is unanswerable means you don’t waste time trying to answer it. Instead you can wiggle philosophically in written form for the entertainment, hopefully, of the reader of this essay.

How’d I do? I just tried to pack all the philosophical bullshit I could into 5 sentences.

I am allergic to -isms, but I have bits of empiricism, pragmatism, phenomenology (ism?), existentialism, absurdism, and maybe a touch on transcendentalism in my view of the world. Oh yeah, and generalized agnosticism. That’s a lot of -isms for a guy allergic to them. What it basically means is I like to focus on the things I know or can observe. I like to think of my experiential evolution as a human. I like to focus on the now.

Here’s what I know. I heard music from a very early age. My dad is a musician and my mom plays some piano and is a music lover. I’ve had some great teachers. Music has always been a part of my life. I started as a trombone player, but I wanted to be in a rock band to get girls so for some strange reason I picked bass. Insert bass player joke here. I did all the stuff you’re supposed to do. Lessons. Bands both in and out of school. Went to college. Graduated.

But now what?

The arts are an interesting thing to justify in the economy of 21st century America. Honestly, I could probably make more money working retail. Being freelance is great, but my boss (me) frequently drives me nuts, the pay sucks, my employer doesn’t provide insurance or retirement, and I do not get paid sick or vacation days. The upside is I get to meet all kinds of people, see some pretty cool places, have some flexibility in my schedule, and do what I love. All those things fit with my long list of -isms.

Every artist has to wrestle with the feasibility of a life in the arts once adulting happens. In addition to playing and composing, I do quite a bit of private teaching, which I enjoy. I’m grateful that my lovely bride supports what I do and I thank her every tax season for being a patron for the arts. That’s all wonderful, but the fact is that I would find a way to keep creating even if it meant working retail… because I have to. I know that is the artist’s cliche, but it is also the truth. I create because it is authentic for me. Not creating would be in bad faith. I actually think that if I didn’t choose music I’d have been a painter, or photographer, or poet, or dancer (scary thought). I consider artistic expression to be a means of communicating the human experience. I’m a social butterfly. Creating art is what I enjoy. The medium is, on some level, secondary.

Now off to practice. Creating is glamorous and all, but expression requires technique. Accumulation of experience. Or maybe I’ll go for a stroll in the woods, that is experience too.

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