The Universal / The Particular (Or: The Secret Recipe For Great Art)

Being an independent musician and all, a common question that gets tossed around near me is: “What kind of music do you make?”

This post will seek to answer that question handily and will also GIVE THINGS AWAY, to lucky and awesome people, as well as ruminate on the nature of art, and other things of a sacred and profane nature.  Ready?  Then let’s dive down together…

Title

I have always thought that the greatest thing that a human being could do, was to go as deep as they could, get as close to the truth as possible, bring things back from that place, and then share them with others.

I think that ‘truth’ is a quality, and I think that this quality is the most beautiful thing in the world.  Some people call it ‘presence’, others: ‘beauty’, others: ‘value’.  But, whatever you want to call it, I believe that it is the one constant thing that runs thru: every great idea, every great work of art, every noble endeavour, and every just cause in the entirety of our collective history.  I think that this quality has an important and vital function in our lives.  And I think that: when people are open to, and connect with this quality; beautiful things happen; for them personally, and for the world at large.

Great music, or great art for that matter, takes you out of time.  It dissolves everything that you think of as your life, it takes you away from pain, and communicates the joy of the moment.  I believe that it does this by virtue of this universal quality.

When people listen to my music, whether it be in a live setting, or on the album, this is always the goal for me.  That quality, and the communication of that quality is what I am aiming for.  Always, always, always, in all things.

And this is, truly, what my music is about.  This is what it seeks to do, and, when it hits this is what it does, for me and for the listener.  AND this is also the reason that I find it so hard to answer when people ask me: ‘What kind of music do you make?’  Because I have found that, when you say to someone: you want to make music that is as true as possible, that takes people out of time, and that communicates the incandescent ecstasy of the present moment, they become confused and their faces look like they are trying to think of seven things at once.

But this is always what my music has been about.  That is why it took me so very long to write and record the first album.  I didn’t start with any preconceptions.  I had a blank canvas.  I wasn’t even starting from a place where I had a ready-made culture.  I didn’t grow up in the deep south, listening to blues records and thinking ‘I want to make a blues record’.  My aesthetic was a blank slate.  My first task was: to create my own culture.  I wanted to express that universal thing in that way that was particular to me; a way that was uniquely my own, and I had to find a way to do that whilst acquiring the chops that would let me translate it into the real world.  I had to bring together all the elements in my life that would allow me to combine: The Universal and The Particular.

This combination is, I believe, the secret recipe for all great art.

So, by laying this out, am I claiming that my music and my album is Great Art?  No, I am not saying that.  That would be unbelievably arrogant.

I can say that it is made with this idea in mind.  I can say that it is, absolutely, the best album that I was capable of making at that particular time.  I can say that: I love it, that it contains my sweat, tears, and lifeblood, and that I couldn’t have possibly worked any harder on it.  But I can’t grade it.  That would be…weird. ;-)

——-

Last week I set a competition in which I said: the 3000th follower on jamesradcliffe.com would receive a free album.  I realized soon after, that there are two different ways of keeping track of followers; the first is solely the followers on WordPress , the second also includes those who follow the blog by email.  So there turned out to be two 3000th followers…

So it become two free albums. ;-)

They go to:

Liz Echuca, and

WildheartDream

Well done to both – you should have received an email with your free download code.

And as for the rest of the brave  3000:  You are all beautiful.  You know it.  I love you.


My name is James Radcliffe and I am a 100% audience supported independent artist.  If you like what I do (and can afford it) then please consider buying some of my music.  Each purchase really makes a big difference to me and 10% of every sale goes to a charity which: houses, feeds, clothes, and educates orphaned children in Nepal.

Also, every month I send out a newsletter packed with Interesting and Exclusive Things.  If you sign up today you’ll also get 3 FREE tracks of my music as a welcome gift.

Get 3 Free Tracks Now.

And lastly, if you’d like to find out what I’m up to on a more day-to-day basis then here is my brain on Twitter:

64 Replies to “The Universal / The Particular (Or: The Secret Recipe For Great Art)”

    1. What a great post! I enjoy writing a great deal. Although it is a different medium than music, a lot of your thoughts about the practice of art applies. No matter what our creative medium, I think it’s important that we perform from deep within ourselves–always searching for the truth–and then find the best, most honest means to convey that to others. Thanks so much for posting!

      Like

      1. Hey there,
        I completely agree. I think that many of the boundaries we create for different types of art are just false constructs of the mind. There is a lot more overlap than we think. At the baseline, I see almost everything that humans do as a subset of creativity, whether it be painting, parenting, fixing a car or climbing a mountain.
        Thanks a lot for your comment, it was very thoughtful,
        Have a good one,
        – J

        Like

  1. Please let me know if you’re looking for a article writer for your weblog.
    You have some really great posts and I feel I would be a good
    asset. If you ever want to take some of the load
    off, I’d love to write some material for your blog in exchange for
    a link back to mine. Please blast me an email if interested.
    Thank you!

    Like

    1. Hey there,
      Thanks a lot for the offer, but my blog isn’t really that kind of thing.
      I write this stuff because I enjoy writing it and want to share it, and my music with folk that resonate with them. No other reason really.
      Sorry I can’t be of more help to you there, I wish you Good Luck tho in all your future endeavours, ;-)
      – J
      – J

      Like

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