Music is a journey. More specific, listening to Music is a journey. Playing it is also quite a ride, but it’s different. On one side you are being captivated and transported to another feeling by someone else – passively. On the other you are creating the sensation of emotional movement with your own effort (at the moment or with practice leading up to the moment) – actively. It’s an honor really. If you were called anything besides “Musician” (such as “doctor” or “pilot”) you would need some sort of license and certified training to alter and transport people’s state of being such as we do. But nope. You don’t need no ticket to ride this train. Any Joe Blow can pick up an ‘ukulele and learn to change the way we feel with Music. That’s magic.
If that is indeed the case though, all the thought and effort put into creating the ride really doesn’t matter. I know I sure don’t care what scale Jake plays if it sounds good. He put in his time because he wanted to be able to take himself and others on a Musical journey with ease, not because he thought fans would appreciate the chords and strums he practiced. People pay money to go to a concert because they want to experience Music in a person to person setting. They don’t care how you make them feel like dancing or crying, as long as you do.
I happen to know a former self that was very interested – over interested – in the technical pieces of Music. I used to obsess with learning theory and fiddling with effects pedals, all in hope that some quantifiable aspect of Music would enlighten me to the secrets of sounding better. I remember asking a great player (I won’t name names) if he could show me “sweet” sounding intervals – as if there were some that were superior to others and by learning one “special” interval I might be able to play teeth-rattling, teary-eyed solos. How embarrassing! He must have thought the same thing that I now think when I run across somebody still figuring out the hard truth. (Most likely something along the lines of “Poor guy…”)
Let me save you some time:
There is no math-like, absolute answer to playing great Music or sounding good on the ‘ukulele.
I think I can safely say that with absolute certainty. It’s like the number 42 being the “Answer to The Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything“ in Douglas Adam’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It’s absurd. That’s why it’s funny.
Music is infinitely abstract and to attempt to pin it down is selling yourself short of the possibilities. The options are daunting, if not downright scary! How do you make sense of it all, let alone a career out of it like some choose to do? You’ll find your way somehow. If you love/need to go on that ride every time you pick up your instrument you will find a way – you have to.
So for those of you searching for the next ‘ukulele, or the best strings, or the best chords: save yourself some time and just play Music. Get yourself some decent equipment and go for it! Close out your internet browser and I’ll close out mine and let’s put our fingers on the frets to find out how each of us can make the most beautiful sounds we can.
There are no rules.
There are no “bests.”
There are only possibilities.