TITLE: Good Music Uses Your Whole Mind AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: July 03, 2015 12:50 PM DESC: ----- BODY: A couple of months back, someone posted a link to an interview with guitarist Steve Vai, to share its great story about how Vai came to work with Frank Zappa. I liked the entire piece, including the first paragraph, which sets the scene on how Vai got into music in the first place:
Steve Vai: I recall when I was very, very young I was always tremendously excited whenever I was listening to the radio or records. Even back then a peculiar thing happened that still happens to me today. When I listen to music I can't focus on anything else. When there's wallpaper music on the radio it's not a problem but if a good song comes on it's difficult for me to carry on a conversation or multitask. It's always odd to me when I'm listening to something or playing something for somebody and they're having a discussion in the middle of a piece of music [laughs].
I have this pattern. When a song connects with me, I want to listen; not read or talk, simply listen. And, yes, sometimes it's "just" a pop song. For a while, whenever "Shut Up and Dance" by Walk the Moon came on the radio, it had my full attention. Ah, who am I kidding? It still has that effect on me. Also, I love Vai's phrase "wallpaper music". I often work with music on in the background, and some music I like knows how to stay there. For me, that's a useful role for songs to play. Working in an environment with some ambient noise is much better for me than working in complete silence, and music makes better ambient noise for me than life in a Starbucks. When I was growing up, I noticed that occasionally a good song would come on the air, and my level of concentration managed to hold it at bay. When I realized that I had missed the song, I was disappointed. Invariably in those cases, I had been solving a math problem or a writing a computer program. That must have been a little bit like the way Vai felt about music: I wanted to know how to do that, so I put my mind into figuring out how. I was lucky to find a career in which I can do that most of the time. Oh, and by the way, Steve Vai can really play. -----