Words are funny things. It’s a way to represent something, but sometimes there are gaps in the collection and you can’t quite say things to describe what you mean.
In Japanese, there’s a word “kando” 感動 which I’d describe as being moved, touched, emotionally affected in a positive way. It’s a common word used in reaction to arts and experiences — a moving story, uplifting movie, etc.
I get “kando” from some music. Well, not all of it can be described as uplifting, as a lot of times I get emotionally affected by sad or angry music. But in English there’s not a concise way to describe that experience. Being “moved” sort of does it, but it just doesn’t sound great to say I’m into “moving” music.
Those are the thoughts that led me to stumble upon the word “impactful” a few years ago. It’s the best word I’ve come up with thus far. I think all artists create with the dream of their creations being impactful. I’d argue that all hit songs, even the most manufactured hits with huge investments from major labels, become hits because the songs are impactful in some ways. It’s a requirement. I can’t imagine an artist who doesn’t delight at discovering that his/her music meant something to someone.
But music is a mystical, mysterious thing. Highly individualized. We don’t choose what we like, we discover. Yet some music is so impactful that a lot of people connect to it. That is fascinating to me. And the other fact is that film composers do this everyday — they create music that inspire certain feelings in people. They do this at will.
So it must be possible to create impactful music at will. I won’t say anyone can do it, but it’s more achievable than we may think. Not everyone can gain the ability to run 100-meter at the Olympic level, but a lot of people, with proper training and mindset, can learn to complete a marathon.
But if it’s possible, why are there so much music out there that’s un-impactful? Many established artists fill their albums with, well, fillers. Do they know that they are fillers, songs you record once but never perform again?
As a music fan, I would love for more artists to discover how to create impactful music at will. Who wouldn’t want that, to have every song be impactful in some ways. I can say that all my songs that I bother to keep in my catalog are impactful to me in one way or another. I accept that not everything I create may be impactful. You thought it was impactful at the time of writing and recording it, only to realize over time that it’s just not up to the standard of other songs. I didn’t get to where I am overnight — there are plenty of less mature songs I wrote years ago that I rarely revisit. Perhaps other artists feel that way about their catalog, too. Though that doesn’t explain why some artists hit creative pinnacle early on and never recapture. If it’s truly a craft that anybody can develop over time, all artists will be creating more mature work the longer they stay in the game.
Both as a fan and as a creator, the two sides agree: it’ll be great if more creators figure out how to be impactful at will. In the world of information overload, where we’re trying not to drown in the sea of noise, we are looking for deeper connections.
And since this is my obsession, I like to share what I’m learning. I want to empower fellow creators to be more impactful, and empower fellow audience to learn how to spot impactfulness and invest their time and effort in appreciating it, and providing feedback to artists so they create more of it.
I am a creator myself first and foremost. I want my music to find its audience. But if my music doesn’t do it for you, I’d love to find you someone else whose music may do it. And if you’re an artist, I’d be thrilled if my sharing of my lessons helps you feel even stronger about your new creations.
Words are funny things. Vocabulary is constantly evolving to create better, correct-er representations of what you mean. My saying this doesn’t really change much in terms of what I’ve been doing. But I found, or rather, I re-realized that this explains what I do in a way that others can understand. I may say it differently tomorrow. But today, I’d like to tell you that my mission is to spread impactful music. Some of it is my own, but there are many out there. I create my own because I need to, but otherwise I don’t care where it comes from. I want more impactful music in the world. It’s important to me. I think it make the world a better place.