Inspiration in Staunton

Virginia / Jan. 23, 2012 / by Chris
Inspiration in Staunton

If you haven’t already, please go check out our latest profile piece on Three Guys with Notes.  In addition to observing their musical outreach first hand, I had the pleasure of talking with the group’s founder, Lou Boden, about his personal experience as a performer and composer of music.

When Boden first began to use flutes from different Native American traditions, one of his fellow musicians suggested he should respect the instrument and its tradition by playing only Native American music.  Lou saw it differently; since he had no background in the music of the Native Americans, he could never be authentic if he tried to produce that music.  So, as Lou puts it, he “honors” the Native American cultures that crafted his flutes by playing the music of his own culture on them to the best of his ability.  

I really connected with what Lou said, and it helped me clarify some of my own thoughts about my side project.  At one point I had it in my head that the music I composed should be in the style of the local music.  But besides the problem of America’s eclectic musical taste, I’m realizing more and more that I can’t experience in a week a musical culture that has been created over decades, sometimes even centuries in a region.  

Given that I cannot authentically compose music in the varied cultural genres we will encounter, it is clear to me the best thing for my project as I proceed is to use my own voice to reflect on the experiences of our team as we explore this amazing and diverse country.  If I am sensitive to the sounds of the places we visit, then hopefully I can, like Lou, honor the culture that created them while being faithful to the musical traditions that have made my music what it is.