I just took part in the Global Game Jam 2012. What that amounted to for me as a musician was spending an entire weekend in a small room with a computer and a keyboard and recording a bunch of songs to be used in the video game that was being created by the development team at the jam. It was an awesome experience on all levels but one of the things that has stuck with me the most is seeing all the programmers' and artists' reactions to my music.
Everybody on the team was very appreciative of my work and they always commented on how nicely my music fit with the game. It is always interesting to hear reactions like that from people who aren't musicians. I've been taught to think of music differently in school than I would have thought of it otherwise, which is to say, very mathematically. From a practical standpoint, I can see the benefits of this. It certainly makes composing music a much simpler process. But it also deadens creativity to me. What's the point in writing a chord progression if you know that all you're doing is writing a chord progression? I guess it all comes down to how each individual person interprets music. For me, I often come up with melodies and riffs spontaneously and I often don't write them out until after the fact and most of the time I don't write them out at all. To me, writing out music is like writing a description of a painting and going to great lengths to describe the shades, the hues, the perspective, etc. I think the music speaks for itself.
That's not to say that I don't write out music. If I want my music played by other musicians, sure, I'll write it down. But even then, it's impossible to capture the essence of the music in writing because you can't make everybody else hear what you have in your head. It's hard enough making THAT come out by myself.
So anyway, I guess the whole point is that I'm much more interested in hearing what people who are not formally educated about music have to say about music than people who view it as a science. It felt really good being so appreciated by everybody this weekend. I guess one part of that is that it's unusual to me to have that kind of an impact on somebody, and it makes me feel good about myself when I do. But another part is knowing that one always needs to keep an open mind and not allow anyone else to do the job of sealing it up for you with theories.