Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Genius of Monk

"A genius is the one most like himself."
Thelonious Monk

For years now, this famous document filled with curious scribbles, titled "MONK'S ADVICE," has been making its rounds on the internet. (One blogger discusses Thelonious Monk and some of the document's background here.) I've noticed the document pop up time and time again, and each time I read it, I get something new out of it. Today, the "genius" quote popped out at me.

Throughout life, we are constantly influenced by outside sources. We may emulate a personal hero, mimic a musician's melody, or draw knowledge from a famous quote (like right now, for example). Through imitation and emulation, we shape ourselves (musically and personally).

Outside influences push and pull us in many different directions. Sometimes these forces challenge us and change us for the better; other times they confuse us and throw us off of our path. At these times, I think it's important to look inwardly and go with your gut. Or, for you saps out there, go with your heart. Stick to your essence.

Alternatively, if you prefer rhymes:
"Today you are You; that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You."
—Dr. Seuss
Musically, this means you should pursue the music that interests you the most. Do your best to branch out and become versatile, but realize that it's okay if not everything gels perfectly with your style. Realize that you have your own style.

For Monk, this meant embracing his own crazy, unorthodox style: percussive, fragmented, and completely unique.

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