The Grammy awards are tonight, and even though I don’t care about awards shows I’ve been thinking a lot about music. It absolutely blows my mind that throughout the history of time humans have been able to produce a seemingly endless stream of original music. Every day millions of people are writing original songs and recording sounds and lyrics that have never been heard before. It’s pretty ridiculous especially considering that there are only 12 notes to choose from! It’s also amazing to think about how music has developed over time and built upon itself to create new genres. Just look at Bruno Mars’ new song Finesse and how it combines elements of modern pop music with 1980s funk and new jack swing. Then you can take it one step deeper and look at the musical genres that influenced that movement … and then that movement … and then that movement … and on it goes.
Music got me to thinking about originality and what it actually means to do or create something new. The interesting thing about originality is that every unique thing is influenced by something that came before it. Just look at people for example. While I am uniquely me and no other me has ever existed before in the history of time, I’m really just a product of my ancestors. The same goes for literally everything. While I am the first person to write this exact blog post that you are reading, the ideas and words in it are ideas and words influenced by things I’ve read and learned from other people. Every new thing is really just a remix of something old.
One of my hobbies is mashing up and remixing music. I essentially take a bunch of songs that already exist and I put them together in a creative way to make something uniquely awesome. The more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve realized that that’s exactly what I spend every day of my life doing. Every day I pick up something new from the people and world around me and I try to mash it up and remix it into something I call Matt. And while that may seem like a sad thought (since humans like to feel special), I actually think it’s pretty inspiring. It’s inspiring because it shows me that originality is all about relationship. You aren’t uniquely you because of the thoughts that only you have thought, but instead because of the thoughts that other people have thought. Surprisingly, the more you incorporate other people, the more unique you become! Who I am is a collective version of who you are and who everyone before me was!