At a recent workshop I attended, a participant asked the instructor what music they listened to when they worked. At first I thought it an odd question. For me, it is a hodge podge, driven by the consensus of my group studio where it is either NPR or classical to keep friction to a minimum. But as I thought about it more, I realized that I have been thinking about the relationship between clay and music for a while.
Even though I don’t always get to listen to the music that strikes my momentary fancy, I have often wondered what effect music would have on how my pots, particularly at the throwing stage. When I alter my pots, I do so quickly and deliberately, but also with a sense of freedom and looseness. I intentionally vary the movement to keep the pots fresh. And I have wondered if that movement would change with the melody or base line playing in the background. I’ve thought about doing a series of “music” pots – some made to energizing percussive rock like Cowboy Mouth, others to soothing classical like Mozart and still others to bluegrass/gospel rhythm, such as Red Molly. Alas, I have not had a chance to explore this idea, but I can’t quite let go of it.
My idea is starting to get more momentum. I was sitting at the wheel the other day, with classical playing in the background. I began to alter a freshly thrown pot and noticed that my motion was in line with the melody. Hmmm, there it was. It was a gently curvy line. And I wondered – would “Honey on My Grave” produce something different; more soulful?
And would “Jenny Says” result in something entirely different; more erratic, more energetic?
This last weekend I was attending our local clay club get together. It was a wonderful potluck with great food served in beautiful pottery. And there was musical entertainment. Aca-perco, a vocalist/songwriter/percussionist and her drummer/potter partner who makes his own ceramic drums. The music was great and inventive with a lovely tribal undertone from the drums. I was moved enough to buy a cd.
My first chance to listen to the cd was while driving to work the other day. One song in particular really spoke to me. It had lots of clay drums and made me wonder, now what kind of pot would I make if I was listening to this while throwing. Clay speaking to clay through me. What a beautiful thought. And then I thought of someone asking me what music influenced my not-yet started musical pot series. How fun. And that made me think about how cool it would be if a musician had a potter influence their music? You can see the dangers of a long commute. Well, I’ve got one example of the latter. Here is a beautiful song written about throwing pots on a wheel.
By the way, I have no answers to any of the questions I have posed here. Maybe after my fall wood-firing I will get a chance to explore this. But until then, I am wondering how music affects your pots? Does it? Do you play different music when making different forms? Let us know.