Being Honest in Music

Here’s a good way to get someone’s undi­vided atten­tion. Ask, “Can I be hon­est with you?” Peo­ple will stop what­ever they’re doing and have a lis­ten to what you want to say.

The same is true in music, too. When you com­pose, are you being hon­est? Are you putting “you” in the music, or are you putting on airs? Are you the real thing, or are you wear­ing the emperor’s new clothes?

Some­times I start writ­ing a piece and I have to aban­don it. There’s more than one rea­son this might hap­pen, but chief amongst them is that I feel the music is not com­mu­ni­cat­ing honestly.

The shame of it is that I hear many audi­ences being impressed with dis­hon­est, unlis­ten­able music. I guess you can fool a lot of peo­ple a lot of the time. But do your­self a favor: don’t fool your­self. Always let your music be an hon­est expres­sion of yourself.


About Richard D. Russell

This was written by Richard D. Russell, New York City based composer of fine music.