10 Lessons I've Learned from J.S. Bach (part 3)

The third lesson J.S. Bach taught me is to be inventive.  While he was alive, he dramatically altered the way people would think about music for generations to come.  Some of the most profound musical paradigm shifts began with him, and have lasted for centuries, even to today...things we take for granted.  We think it has always been this way.  Things like pianists using their thumbs.  Did you know Bach created that technique?  How about equal-tempered tuning.  If we had any other tuning system in our Western music, the average non-musical citizen walking the streets would declare, "That doesn't sound right!"  Bach established it hundreds of years ago.  Now all of our computer sequencers, electronic keyboards and tuning devices are all built on this system...globally.

Compositionally speaking, he pushed the boundaries of the musical instruments of his day to the extreme, like creating a four-part fugue for a violin, or creating music that pianists still believe is impossible to physically play.  He established and 'maxed-out' the concept of motivic development, which would be imitated by composers for many generations to come.  He boldly created things that others wouldn't have even dared to, most not even perceiving the possibilities that he saw.

I sometimes wonder if he ran into opposition when establishing new approaches.  Undoubtedly he did.  Obviously it didn't deter him.  At times I've thought about what he would do if he were alive today.  Would he be creating software, or using new tuning systems that are technologically available?  I know this for sure: you would find him in a church, creating new ideas and pushing boundaries as a spiritual quest, ignoring popular 'fluff', while digging deep into the reservoir of new potential within himself, and inspiring others to do the same.

So the third lesson is: Be perceptive to new potential, not just swayed by those who take popular roads easily travelled.  Search and dig for the undiscovered opportunities that are all around us, but that few dare to see.