Taste and restraint, and the way you not only use your notes wisely, but what you listen to, are really important building blocks for all you can do. Lots of people are always talking about how so many things are “what we are born with”; that we really forget to understand how much of what we really have and are able to do artistically is really acquired over our lifetimes, and is really far from something we are born with!
I do believe that some of us may be more prone to greatness and fine taste than others from the get-go, but who is to say if any of this would ever come true if not for it being encouraged and nurtured at the right moment?! I really believe we are a product of the combination of these things, and the “taste” we end up having is a product of countless experiences and input we may have gotten. And then there is the simple fact of “influence”, and what that can mean in terms of our decisions when it comes to what we end up loving to play, or loving to listen to. I love to listen to music that stirs my soul, and that is filled with notes I can “relate to” in terms of my own playing. I always say that my interpretations of other people’s songs are more how that song “comes through me” as opposed to how I may have worked hard to “find” a new way to do it. I rarely have to go through that process, rather, I artistically “cut to the chase”, and simply play what I truly “feel” and how I truly have assimilated that particular piece of music. It’s hard to really put into words, but it’s the purest form of music making; really similar to actual composition. And composing is really what we do every time we play a solo, for example. From that very first note, we are making a musical “commitment” to what becomes the outcome, and final note of that very same solo. In the course of this “solo”, we must invoke all kinds of decisions of “taste”, right on the fly, as it’s being created.
So, the next time you really start to play, listen or create something new on your own, see just how much of what you put into your music is a decision of “taste”. I think if you really examine what you’re doing, you just might surprise yourself at how many things went into the whole process! Happy creating!