JEFF SHATTUCK MUSIC

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Can you be too good at your instrument?

Over the past few years, I've started reading a blog called Creativity Unbound. It's written by Edward Boches, the COO of Mullen, and, in my opinion, it's the best blog about advertising you can find today.

Recently, there was a post on titled "Re: Today’s Creative Director, BBH’s Kevin Roddy gets it 90 percent right.", which was primarily about how creative directors in today's ad agencies really need to learn more about digital if they are to do effective work for their clients. I agree, but the bit about the post that really grabbed my attention popped up later in the comments. Someone had written:

"I often relate to musicians, especially guitar players. If you know more than 3 chords the song can be more interesting, however, (and this is a biggie) if you’re limited to a G-C-D progression you just might create some of the best music you’ve ever made."

There was a time when I would have agreed, but no more. Yes, creativity needs limits, but this whole notion that the best rock songs arise out of the most common and simple chord progressions is just not true, in my opinion. In fact, I think a lot of musicians, especially guitarists, worry about getting "too good" because then they'll just be a virtuoso and not a great songwriter or even a master picker of notes. Bull. Sure, if all you do is practice soloing or creating sonic canvasses that are mind-blowingly complex, well, your songwriting won't improve. But if you simply seek to master the guitar as a complete instrument, becoming a jack of all trades and master of none, your songwriting will improve. Why? Because you will be better able to translate what's in your head into music. Think about it: if you hear a melody in your head but can't play well enough to find the right chords for it, you won't be able to write the song you hear: instead, you'll have to settle for the song you can play.

What do you all think about this, dear readers?