Part of CMJ Film Festival

Music, directed by Andrew Zuckerman, is a film that excavates the core of what music really is. With simplicity, the film interviews a handful of legendary musicians against a stark white screen and seeks to unearth the true essence of our human need to express ourselves via music, why music is such a jarring medium of expression, and how its message unifies us in a place inside our souls that is unspeakable and intangible, but invariably real. Karen O, Iggy Pop, Billy Corgan, Ozzy Osbourne, Dave Brubeck, Kid Rock, Fiona Apple, Ezra Koenig, Ani diFranco, Ben Gibbard, Eve, Chrissie Hynde, Yoko Ono, Rosanne Cash, John Legend, Lenny Kravitz, Common, Ziggy Marley, Herbie Hancock, Kenny Rogers, Itzhak Perlman, Danny Elfman, and Julian Casablancas are some of the artists interviewed.

Each artist explains how music finds them—whether divine inspiration, unknown movements to feeling, or something more spatial. Each artist’s take on the music, the fame, the reason behind why music is such a beautiful necessity to earthly life for all living things seems extremely unified in one basic concept. Ani diFranco describes music as reaching an “essential fear, essential love, essential pain.” From these essential feelings, the artists see music as their driving force and inspiration to create and express, to build and purge, to reach and give. As Kenny Rogers puts it, “creativity feeds creativity,” and nothing inspires more than seeing artists who have achieved such great creative heights describe how creativity has reached them, affected them, inspired them and how it makes them feel to share a gift. Many describe the effect of creating for the audience, and receiving that equal amount in return from the audience.

Julian Casablancas likens the gift of sharing his music to the feeling of holding a door open for an elder. Much of what the film fossilizes in these interviews is really the idea that the intangible world of giving, helping, feeling and emotion holds much more power than we can ever know, fathom, or comprehend. One thing we know about it is this: it is a force field. It is ubiquitously there.

The film also describes instrumental and artistic process. Itzhak Perlman advises, “after a while when you play an instrument you should stop playing the instrument, [so] forget about playing the instrument, now start talking the music”. This seems to be the key to the heart of what truly reaches people. From artist to artist, finding new ways to reach this core of affectivity is what the creative process is all about. Herbie Hancock urges musicians, “Explore new territory, go beyond comfort zones” and to continually challenge conventional parameters.

Adding and expanding upon ideas is important to the creative process by way of collaboration. The power of so many different ideas, and the necessity to work together is emphasized in many interviews. Eve notes that musicians must “vibe” with one another to really gain understanding and emerge on a new level. On this new level, artists must be comfortable with breaking the mold, checking each other and making suggestions, and being bold. Rosanne Cash emphasizes that, “collaboration can happen best when you get rid of insecurities.”

With adding comes patience. Success is never immediate. Many musicians describe the process of finding their pinnacles of creativity and how it was a gradually rewarding process for the very reason of time and effort. Kid Rock is an example, Ben Gibbard is an example—specifically, both of these artists stand out in the film for delving to their roots and pasts to describe their achievements, and searching throughout their artistic careers for what made them who they are. Perhaps the climb is what defines the achievement.

Music is a pure, insider look at achievement and creative urge. In and of itself, it speaks as a piece of cinema that communicates the purest messages about art and individuality from the purest regions of renowned artistic souls.