Composing: Coronavirus and “Plan B“

We are all going through some rough times these days. Many people have found it difficult to adapt to these circumstance that we’re forced upon us, and other are suffering abjectly as a result of the pandemic and its fallout. We have lost friends, heroes, and loved ones. The consequences of our elected officials’ issues have been colossal.

I believe many of us have been going back and forth between feeling free to pursue things we didn’t have time for in the past, and feeling a sense of disorientation and claustrophobia.

We have also been asking, what will happen next year, and years after this situation, and when will we have put enough pages between ourselves and this chapter in history to feel like we are free to be out in the open unhindered?

I’ve felt that one of the better ways of dealing with this situation has been to take all of the things that are important regardless of any status quo, and exploring how they can still be explored. Maintaining musicianship is important, regardless of whether or not we can perform in a live space. As someone who has spent a lot of time in the practice room during other dry gigging seasons, I can attest to the importance of, and the rewards that can be won from, setting out to do something in music and succeeding.

When I wrote the 9 tunes that will be featured on my first album, there were times when I simply didn’t know if I could pull any music out of myself. I was stuck in a situation where no one was calling me for work, and I was having a tough time in the environment I inhabited. Making a living seemed impossible, and the daily distractions of life bedeviled me constantly.

But what I found was that in writing, just as in improvisation, every feeling you have is valid. There is no perfect way to feel, and no perfect thoughts. The only thing you have to do is be honest with yourself about how you feel, and then play something... and then ask yourself, “how much does this represent how I feel?” After that, play something else to either improve your answer, or add to what you liked before. Eventually out of that process, you get the raw materials of music that you can mold into music that you feel good about performing.

One of the greatest affirmations of the beauty of writing from a place of clarity and simplicity, came from reading interviews with Herbie Hancock, and noting a recurring statement about his writing process— you only need 1 fragment of a phrase or melody to be able to create music. Music comes out of us. When we try to get right with ourselves, when we speak from our hearts, that is what allows us to take any medium and muse with it.

My heart goes out to every person in this struggle. We all deserve empathy, respect, and compassion. We’re all fighting our own battles, and right or wrong, the common language that every single human being speaks effortlessly, is music.

I wish you the best in your journey of life, love, and prosperity.

-Tim Chernikoff

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