This all sounds very obnoxious and selfish, but I believe an individual voice and identity is important to musicians and to people in general. It defines who we are and our purpose in our lives and communities. Without it there is no point in waking up or doing something in our everyday lives. I guess, it's difficult for musicians to find a unique voice. Instruments may sound the same, music start to sound similar, and people start seeking a 'position' to fill rather than a 'voice'. In this industry, we start to become products, and the only thing motivating us is the audience, fans and self-satisfaction in what we do. The people give credibility to our voices, and gives us a sense of empowerment to make change through our art. Without feedback, we wouldn't know why we're here in the first place.
I remember the moment when I chose music as a career path, and started taking it seriously. I was performing with my high school percussion ensemble in front of a crowd of thousands, and millions if you counted the audience watching the televised performance. After the performance we got a standing ovation and a roaring cheer from the crowd. I remember standing there thinking, 'Wow, music has such an impact. Something so simple and short can move so many people. Something I loved was loved by others. If this is what it feels like to be a musician, then I want to pursue it. I want to make a change with my music, and continue doing what I love doing.' It was this moment that I felt I had a voice in music, and it meant something.
I started questioning this through my experience with my jazz ensemble. At first, starting jazz felt like having a completely individual and unique voice. Compared to interpreting written classical works, I was arranging my own tunes and improvising with my own voice. I started exploring music further than traditional jazz, only to realise that some people in the audience just want to hear the good old jazz standard. I started viewing my ensemble, at first a free platform to explore and express, now becoming a product of entertainment. I was lost, and uncertain about my purpose in music. I didn't know what my voice was anymore. Was music like this the whole time, and I was just oblivious to it? It couldn't be, because why are all these musicians here in the first place? So what does it take to have a voice?
Laugh, Love, Live finding your voice!