By likemindblog



STEVE ROSE first  began playing the guitar at age 15. Initially his influences were primarily progressive-rock music (e.g., Rush, Genesis). Later he became very interested in Jazz-Rock Fusion (e.g., Pat Metheny, Mike Stern). He has played with a number of musicians in-and-around the Montreal area. Having always been a fan of Ambient music (e.g., Steve Roach, Robert Rich), he recently released his first Ambient album. A second is on its way.

Steve, welcome once again and  thank you so much for participating in this project.  As hundreds of readers now visit this site and as promised, your most interesting article is being republish for everyone’s enjoyment!

Please note: As I am not a Philosopher of Music, my answers to the following questions will be based primarily on my own experiences as related to the Philosophy of Mind and Cognitive Science. I should indicate that much of the work in the latter fields is shedding new light on questions in the former.

Question 1: What is music to and for you?Steve SoloA

Answer: I think it is rather uncontroversial to say that music is a form of communication. It is the communication through a non-traditional form (regular speech and the written word may be seen as traditional forms) of internal expressions, desires, and, of course, emotions. While some Cognitive-Psychologists (the Linguist Steven Pinker for example) believe that music is simply an offshoot of the evolution of the Language Module, others (the Neuroscientist Daniel J. Levitin for example) believe that a Music Module was specifically selected-for.

For myself, music is a kind of “release” from the world. In this way it represents a sort of an “escape from the self.” Psychologist Roy Baumeister notes that worldly pressures lead many to various forms of ego-circumvention. Alcohol, drugs, sadomasochism, meditation, and the like are some of the ways in which people attempt to eschew the demands of the world. Music is in many ways the same. One can easily “lose-themselves” in the creative process of music making.

I think Baumeister’s idea(s) can be linked to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s “Flow” Theory. Csikszentmihalyi, a Psychologist, suggests that real happiness is achieved through the complete absorption of a person in a particular activity (hence the term “Flow”). This makes sense to me, as when I am truly in a “Flow” state (and this need not apply to only music and art), I am “apart” from the world and ego-free.

Question 2: What inspires you?

Answer: Many things inspire me. Other musicians have always been a source of inspiration (e.g., the great classical composers, the great jazz improvisationalists, etc.). But there are many other things in which I find inspiration. Landscapes [nature] (be they real or imagined), Literature, and Philosophy are just some other areas in which I find inspiration.

I tend to like to conceptualize a piece and then attempt to bring it into fruition. Sometimes STEVE ROSE n790104744_1211776_4338the final product is not exactly what I had envisioned. In this way also, music has an aspect of discovery to it.

Emotion, itself, is a primary inspiration. A gloomy mood may lead me to create a sad harmony and melody. An aggressive mood may lead me to play an aggressive guitar solo. I think that perhaps almost anything can be a source of inspiration.

 Question 3: When you are playing, creating (not performing, but for yourself) where does it take you? I mean where does your mind travel?

Answer: This would seem to be an extension of my answers to questions 1 and 2. While I tend to “forget” myself (ego-circumvention / “Flow”) in the process of music-making (in the Baumeister-Csikszentmihalyi fashion), I also tend to “lose-myself” in the inspirational-conceptualization process as well. Here there seems to be a tension. While attempting to forgo ego-satisfaction and just “Flow” with the music-making process, the ego sometimes rears its head and demands something beyond the ordinary (e.g., more interesting chords should be used, etc.). I think that if the latter situation overtakes the former, then the music-making process becomes burdensome and not as enjoyable. A balance must be achieved between these two forces. It may be that the greatest composers and musicians have mastered this balancing act.

Question 4: Do you think music, visual arts and health are related and if so, how?

Answer: I definitely agree that this is so. As I have indicated above, for me, music has a visual element to it (e.g., landscapes may be a source of inspiration). In line with this, a painting can trigger the creative music-making process also. What I have said about music (e.g., “Flow” theory, etc.) can also be applied to the whole area of visual arts.

It is interesting to note that when I conceptualize a piece, I tend to have a visual image ofIMG_06602 the musical work in my head. It’s hard to verbalize but its almost as if I see blocks or chunks of notes and musical sections in my head.

This can be linked to the imagery-debate in the Philosophy of Mind but I will not go into that here.

Concerning health issues, if what I have said above is correct, then clearly music and the visual arts (arts in general) can be stress-relieving and beneficial. This is important for stress can lead to a number of health problems (i.e., ulcers, heart disease, etc.)

Question 5: How do you feel when you are playing for yourself, not performing?

Answer: Of course, the “burden” or “demand” of playing in front of an audience (performance) creates a situation quite different than when I am playing alone by myself (or practicing with others). The former situation can make me nervous and I may not be able to “Flow” with the process in such a way (of course this depends on the context) as when I am alone.

The latter situation is certainly less demanding. However, I think, and this relates to my answer to question 3, other “demands” are felt. Compositionally and, even, improvisationally, I tend to “Flow” more with the music-making process. Yet, at the same time, I demand of myself something different and genuinely new. Thus, a tension is felt. I do not necessarily want to play the “same-old licks, rhythms, harmonies, and melodies” that I have already explored. It might be said that when I discover something new and intriguing, I am truly elated.

Question 6: Do you identify with your music, if so on what level?

IMG_0649aAnswer: I definitely identify with my music, as it comes from me and is a part of me so-to-speak. It is one my most personal means of self-expression. In line with question 4, I think it is very important for a person to have some sort of creative outlet. Having an outlet and being able to channel one’s internal expressions, desires, and emotions is psychologically and (hence?) physically beneficial.

Question 7: When do you do your best work (environment etc. alone, in a group…)?

Answer: This is a fascinating question that I had to ponder over for some time. I don’t really think I have an answer. As such, I can only offer my experiential viewpoint.

Composing music whilst being alone is really quite different than when done in a group setting. I’ll start with the latter environment. One can approach a group setting with a set of ideas, a complete composition, or with really nothing conceptually. Many of the pieces that I have played over the years are co-written and have come from jams and improvisations. I definitely like to be democratic in a group setting (albeit sometimes this is impossible). I think it is important that all the individual musicians in a group contribute to the music compositionally (if they can and are willing of course). In this way, everyone is connected and feels that they have in some form played an integral role in the music-making process. Feeding-off one another’s ideas can lead to some remarkable creative constructs.

Working alone presents a different challenge. My ambient music is composed (and performed) completely by me and ideally that is the way I want it to be (although I am always open to suggestions [including criticism] from others). I guess the process can perhaps be likened to painting and writing. These creative activities tend to be executed alone. Thus, in a way, I tend to liken my ambient “soundscapes” to a painter’s “landscapes.”

Question 8: Does music help you connect with your “higher” self if I may say it that way?

Answer: As I indicated in my answer to question 6, music is one of my most personal means of self-expression. To elaborate somewhat, I think music allows me to connect with myselfIMG_0656a in an intimate manner that is perhaps unlike any other activity I may engage in. I can let my imagination run-free with endless possibilities.

Composing a piece of music is (as myself and some friends of mine would say) much like “taming a monster or beast.” The endless possibilities of the imagination must be brought under control and organized in an intelligent and meaningful manner. This is a pursuit that I cannot help but conduct.

Steve, thank you for the time you’ve invested in these answers.  I want to sincerely wish you the best in all your endeavours.  Until the next time…


You are cordially invited to visit Steve’s links and hear more of his music.  Thank you so much for your comments, they are always appreciated. Enjoy!

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Filed in: MUSIC • Friday, June 24th, 2011


Hey there! This post could not be written any better! Reading through this post reminds me of my previous room mate! He always kept chatting about this. I will forward this article to him. Fairly certain he will have a good read. Thanks for sharing!

Thanks for the positive feedback Helena! 🙂
I hope your friend enjoys it too…
All the best,


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My name is Michele Andree. I am an artist, I paint musicians in action. I think I’m a musician at heart, my instrument being… a brush, so I play…brush and I paint… music.
I love jazz. I call it freedom music. It promotes special values. I love intelligent people and good conversations.

Some people ask me how music relates to art. Personally I find they go hand in hand. Music is what turns me on to painting. It makes me see colours