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Making Mistakes (BIG!)

This is the first post on the Chase the Music website by a guest blogger. Ardelle Glaeser discovered Chase the Music and was kind and generous enough to write just for us! She was inspired from our conversation – taking into consideration what happens when an artist makes a mistake. We love the human side of our performances, and Allie reveals that the biggest stars don’t only make mistakes – they embrace them. Thanks Ardelle!

Why Mistakes and Imperfections
Make Art and Music
More Human & Original

VIDEO: Pink Floyd – Echoes

Formed in the ‘60s, the band Pink Floyd is known for ushering in the era of psychedelic progressive space rock. While they have many hits, for fans of Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour, their most important song is 1971’s Echoes. The more than 20-minute rock epic is a winding storm of atmospheres and emotions in warped time, culminating in a harmonic conversation between Richard Wright’s subdued keys and Gilmour’s otherworldly mastery of guitar effects. Halfway through Echoes, Gilmour uses his guitar to summon the sounds of seagulls, whales, and otherworldly beasts, several tense minutes of some of the most unique and original music ever produced in the last century.

This moment in Echoes is widely regarded by electric guitarists to be one of Gilmour’s most crucial artistic contributions to the development of psychedelic rock. And he discovered the techniques to do it by mistake. Gilmour has several pedals in his rig, one of which is a classic ‘60s Vox wah pedal, a piece of equipment that’s known for its high fidelity components and its iconic tone. During rehearsals, Gilmour mistakenly plugs in the cables of his wah pedal backwards, resulting in the strange, otherworldly sounds that cuts the song Echoes in half. Instead of immediately correcting himself and plugging in his pedal the right way, he explores the new dimension which he only discovered by exploring the results of a crucial technical mistake.

Gilmour took what many would consider to be unwanted signal feedback and turned it into innovative new techniques which pushed the limits of the electric guitar. And in the process, Pink Floyd birthed an entirely new sub-genre of rock.

The ability to innovate from mistakes and imperfections is an almost universal quality in the world’s greatest and most influential musicians. Seminal folk singer Bob Dylan for instance who has been popular for the last 50 years first gained fame for his unorthodox and ‘perfectly imperfect’ singing style.

VIDEO: Bob Dylan – The Times They Are A-Changin’

Despite writing and performing some of the most well-known songs in American history such as Like a Rolling Stone and The Times They Are A-Changin’, the way he sings defies every stylistic expectation of a global pop culture icon. Dylan’s unusual vocal schemata are an avant-garde mixture of rhythms that take advantage of his vocal imperfections. Over the years, he has developed this style to be truly unique and incomparable to the rest of the folk rock world. And as Dylan’s voice has changed and deteriorated with age, he has continued to experiment with different rhythms and unusual movements in his vocal delivery, a constant and still-ongoing process of seeking harmony in imperfection. It’s the main reason why he continues to be a relevant voice in contemporary music – living proof of how simply embracing imperfection can go a long way.

So before you discard a mistake or allow yourself to be discouraged by your imperfections, remember that modern music wouldn’t be where it is today if some of the world’s greatest musicians didn’t embrace, explore, and find beauty in their faults. This innovative attitude is key to making music that is unmistakably human and original. And in a way, this is also what we at Chase the Music mean when we say that music with feeling is healing. You are not alone in being an imperfect musician. And every imperfect musician has the potential to be gifted with the opportunity of finding harmony in mistakes.

Article specially written for chasethemusic.org by Ardelle Glaeser

Original image CREDIT: Jimmy Baikovicius under CC BY-SA 2.0 License