Information Vs. Revelation
Lately, I have been practicing more on the basis of revelation rather than information. What do I mean by that? Well, let's go back to when I started playing piano as a child. When I was taking lessons, I was learning based off of gathering information and data (for example, this is a C major chord: C, E, G.). This had no bearing on the teacher giving me great insight on music. This was solely based on how I perceived and received what was being taught. On the other hand, I loved to experiment with music on my own free time and gather revelations on what I have learned on my own. Looking back, I realized how much I needed to experiment AND have structure in my musical development.
As I got older, I became more of a music theory, chord and scale book fiend. I figured that if I "played" the formula of how a chord progression works and learned my musical ideas from a bebop run book, that I would be creative. However, it made me mechanical musically because I was gathering information. In contrast in learning the books and "formulae" of great music, when I listened to music, I learned at a faster and more efficient rate because I was witnessing creativity. The key thing was when I listened to music, there was always something new that was revealed that I hadn't heard before in the song or piece. In the theory/information/formula aspect "2+2" will always equal "4". In theory, a C major chord is "C E G". If I were to be creative with the C major chord, I could play it as "C G E" or "C E G" with each note in a different octave.
There are some cases where information can become an "A-HA!" moment and that is a revelation also. There were things that were said to me as a teen that I finally understand because I have finally experienced the information first hand. Information becomes revelation when the thought becomes an experience. Experience and learn as much as you can musically. I'm still learning and I'm hungry for more revelation musically. Information and trivia has its place but revelation through experience with the information will increase learning in leaps and bounds! Revelation is generally active while information alone is passive. Here are some quotes to check out:
“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” - Pablo Picasso
“Learn the rules, then break them intelligently.” ― Jessica Bell
"A theory can be proved by experiment but no path leads from experiment to the birth of a theory." - Albert Einstein
"After a certain high level of technical skill is achieved, science and art tend to coalesce in esthetics, plasticity, and form. The greatest scientists are always artists as well." - Albert Einstein
"There is no theory. You have only to listen. Pleasure is the law. I love music passionately. And because l love it, I try to free it from barren traditions that stifle it. It is a free art gushing forth — an open-air art, boundless as the elements, the wind, the sky, the sea. It must never be shut in and become an academic art." - Claude Debussy
"Works of art make rules but rules do not make works of art." - Claude Debussy
"You've got to learn your instrument. Then, you practice, practice, practice. And then, when you finally get up there on the bandstand, forget all that and just wail." - Charlie Parker
Now I'm not saying that the books are not great tools. What I am saying is that when I was actively experiencing music, that was when I got revelation. It is not only limited to listening to music. When I am learning a piece on sheet music. I get revelation as well. Sometimes it's as simple as a specific hand movement. Sometimes it's an articulation or even a nice melodic line that can potentially be a seed to a song or lick. I guess what I am trying to say is revelation is more organic because it grows and becomes a part of you.