There’s a documentary called “The Art of Listening” on YouTube that really got my interest. There are a lot of cool interviews with artists such as Steve Vai (guitarist, composer, singer, songwriter, and producer with three Grammy Awards), Antonio Sanchez (drummer and composer), Kamasi Washington (Grammy Winning Saxophonist). The primary subject of the film is love and thoughts toward music and music production.
Steve stated something that Frank Zappa told him on one of his first live performances. As you might know, Steve is a really good musician since the begging of his career, and Frank admitted that. But, the more experienced musician at that time told Vai that in music is not all about playing challenging notes faster and better than anybody else. A good musician must find his/her own flavor, they must have a unique tone that sets him/her apart from all the others guitarist (for this example, since Steve plays… guitar :P).
It is no coincidence that all the well-known artists aren’t the ones that play their instruments the better. You can find musicians that are very, very talented but aren’t known by anybody. Yes, sometimes this happens because the artist doesn’t want to mainstream his work. Yes, this happens sometimes because of bad luck, and bad approach of the artist’s personality. All this thing are true. But the thing is that if you don’t find your personal tone, you won’t be recognized, you’ll be another one of the huge HUGE pile of players.
One dear friend of mine went to see David Gilmour in Buenos Aires, Argentina. When the guitarist of Pink Floyd played the very first note of the gig, my friend told to himself “yes, that is why I came here”.
If I’ll give you a pair of headphones and I play to you three jamming sessions, one from David Gilmour, another from Jimmy Page and the last one from Jimi Hendrix. Are you telling me that you won’t recognize which is which without me telling you? Of course, you will!
If you are playing a musical instrument, I want to encourage you to have a lot of influences, learn from whoever you want and feel too. And then find your own sound. Make your tone of playing to be your brand. Be the one that blind people will recognize instantly. Remember, the tone is in your body and soul. Play with the purpose of expressing your feelings.