“Music is in my DNA!” – Rihanna Rihanna’s DNA may be more photogenic than most of the gifted musicians I’ve known, but I’m pretty sure that they would all second her emotion. Music is in their DNA. It has always been a part of their thinking, and they can’t remember a time when it wasn’t. We’re all exposed to music at an early age, but a select few just naturally absorb the grammar of chords and melody and have no trouble rearranging it into new forms. In my “Measure for Measure” columns, I’ve called that capability “Musical I.Q.,” or “Musical Imagination Quotient.” Musical I.Q. means the ability to hear what you play before you play it or sing it, and an ability to conjure up a plethora of alternatives at every fork in the musical road. It is something like the painter’s ability to see the painting waiting to be revealed on a blank canvas, or the sculptor’s ability to look at a formless block of stone and see the sculpture trying to free itself from within. But, because music is a language, Musical I.Q. is most like the poet’s ability to imagine a line of poetry before committing pen to paper. A natural outgrowth of a high Musical I.Q. is the effortlessness we often associate with great songwriters: “Yesterday” comes to Paul McCartney in a dream. Charles Trenet composes “Beyond The Sea” in ten minutes on a piece of toilet paper while riding a train along the French coast in 1943. ZZ Top’s “Tush” materializes in the rowdy atmosphere of a gig. Keith Richards hatches “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” in his sleep. Mozart runs off to his desk after dinner and writes down the symphony he’s been composing in his head while chatting with the guests. He doesn’t scratch out a... Sign In to Keep Reading
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