Posts Tagged ‘ The Gift ’

THE GIFT

Part of my work as a DJ coach and Behind The Decks is to read and absorb everything there is to know about the creative process.  I have piles of books I’ve torn through and refer to constantly.  I just started reading Lewis Hyde’s “The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World”.  I’m already struck by some of the ideas presented in the introduction.

Essentially, art is a gift.  For something to be called artistic there must be a gift component inherent within it.  Even in commercial respects, where a work or performance can be sold and purchased, if there is not a gift within it – it ceases to be art.  The act of giving of yourself, sharing a musical experience, presenting something that extends the relationship between yourself and the audience, facilitating a relationship exchange between other people in your audience is what DJs do.  So, if what DJs provide is a musical presentation (the gift) that is shared and co-opted by others and then shared again creating additional relationships – how is what we do NOT art!  I dare anyone to challenge me otherwise.

I’ve sat in on conversations with DJs and there always seems to be a debate on what is commercial or artistic DJing.  This debate is essential for the DJ to understand, work through, and find their place in the whole culture.  Where a DJ resides with what they do helps them to adjust and adapt to the challenges they may face in their art, or choose to forgo it entirely in pursuit of something more market driven (and there’s challenges within that too).

I have a possible answer to the commercialization of DJing that DJs seem to be so preoccupied with.  Here’s the thing, whatever commercialization that concerns you – how are you so sure that is not a gift to the audience that receives it?  Just because you don’t see it as art does not mean there isn’t a gift or sharing attached to it for someone else.  Who are you to judge the gift another DJ offers just because you choose not to receive it? Probably not the answer you wanted to hear, but BS excuses and pettiness are not part of my vocabulary.

Now, in relation to yourself personally, when you work on your “DJ stuff” do you think about the gift you bring?  Do you think about what you are sharing?  If you feel you are becoming a robot or feel you are on a paper chase constantly, look inward and try and recapture what it is you are really doing.  See Why Do You DJ? for some additional grounding if you need it.  The point is that for you to truly make art, you need to look at it as a gift.

Here are some quotes from the book I’m interpreting for DJs that might help you understand this perspective.

Art vs. Commodities:

“What is it about a work of art, even when it is bought and sold in the market, that makes us distinguish it from . . . pure commodities? A work of art is a gift, not a commodity. . . works of art exist simultaneously in two “economies”, a market economy and a gift economy.  Only one of these is essential, however: a work of art can survive without the market, but where there is no gift, there is no art.” (Hyde, pg 16)

Dancefloor, Community, Relationship between DJ and Audience:

“Unlike the sale of a commodity, the giving of a gift tends to establish a relationship between the parties involved. When gifts circulate within a group, their commerce leaves a series of interconnected relationships in its wake, and a kind of decentralized cohesiveness emerges.” (Hyde, pg 20)

Why you may feel discouraged in light of commercialization of DJing or Superstar DJ success:

“The mythology of the market society . . . getting rather than giving is the mark of a substantial person, and the hero is “self-possessed”, “self-made”.  So long as this assumption rules, a disquieting sense of triviality, of worthlessness even, will nag the man or woman who labors in the service of the gift and whose products are not adequately described as commodities.” (Hyde, pg 16)

I’m sure as I get further into this book there will be more insights to share.  Remember, DJing is a gift, you are the facilitator of the act of giving and receiving, and that’s what makes you an artist!  Now go practice!