Wrong is the new right

21 May

I’ve noticed that the most terrifying things are often the most freeing, IF you choose to actually do them.

And what, I ask, is more terrifying than being wrong??

We’re simply not allowed to be wrong in this culture. Our entire school system is structured around achieving ‘rightness’: the right answer, the right opinion, the right format… I know you know what I mean. Then suddenly, when creativity is required of us, or desired of us, we don’t know how to allow ourselves how to be anything but right.

Being right, from a creative standpoint, is pretty much like death. It’s a pinpoint of correctness with a vast, terrifying sea of ‘wrong’ surrounding it… or is it a wondrous lush forest of creative possibility? Let’s look for some ways of singing in which ‘wrongess’ can be deliciously evocative:

  • Scatting – assuming you can hear the available notes of the chord, seek some that don’t fit, and then explore the journey ‘back’
  • Altering the melody – look for a note that just feels… more. Play in THAT note, and then go back to the established path.
  • Changing the lyrics – ever heard Ella Fitzgerald sing ‘Mack the Knife’? In one recording the sings, ‘And I forgot the words so I’ll just scat’ and proceeds to sing one of the most incredible scat solos EVER.
  • Choose the wrong character – there is incredible fun to be had in this one. Take a song that is always done a certain way and try the opposite: male to female, sweet to nasty, innocent to sexy, angry to saccharine, rock to jazz, classical to hip-hop. You get the idea.

Here are two brilliant examples: Paul Anka singing a super-croony version of Soundgarden’s Black Hole Sun and a version of Ella doing Mack the Knife, although she doesn’t forget the words this time.

Try this: sing a song you know well, using the correct melody and timing, but sing whatever thoughts enter your head as the lyrics; it’s an INSTANT way to connect to the present moment. Once you’ve got that, try switching back and forth between the lyrics and your present moment.

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