This year, Bruce Springsteen was the keynote speaker at the Austin music festival, South by Southwest (SXSW), and delivered a great talk about the evolution of music in his lifetime.
What really resonated with me was when he talked about authenticity:
“The genesis and power of creativity… it’s all about how you’re putting what you do together. The elements don’t matter. The purity of human expression and experience is not confined to guitars, to tubes, to turntables, to microchips. There is no right way, no pure way, of doing it. There’s just doing it.
We live in a post-authentic world. Today authenticity is a house of mirrors. It’s all just what you’re bringing when the lights go down. It’s your teachers, your influences, your personal history. And at the
end of the day, it’s the power and purpose of (your music) that still matters.”
I love this sentiment. Truly. I would argue there is nearly always a pure or authentic way to do things. Inasmuch as we have access to the source material, anyone who is moved to re-create what was can take that knowledge and do so; and I think that is an amazing and beautiful art and skill in and of itself. But not everyone desires to re-create, not every desires to emulate, not everyone desires to preserve. Some are more motivated by creating something new, using various influences and inspirations from these original sources (or not!).
Ideally, we do our creating with understanding of the Root of what we are doing. Rather than just grabbing this and that and shoving them together, instead really digging into the nuance of the material, and making a conscious choice about the creative decisions we arrive at makes for the very best performances. It is by understanding what came before us that we are best prepared to push the envelope and evolve gracefully into the future.
So which are you? Do you prefer to re-create the source? Or innovate and remix? Neither one is better than the other, it’s all about what moves you…
See the whole fabulous speech here: