Shh

"What kind of music do you do?"

My usual answer is "instrumental pop music." The longer answer is "moody and bouncy instrumental music." Since I don't really play jazz or classical or avant-garde music -- though I am a fan and an attendee of all of those -- most of the music that I run into has lyrics and singing.

And of course there's nothing wrong with that. In fact, I wish I could write lyrics. Over the years I have written a few lyrics and even sung on some records but ... well ... my lyrics never made a whole lot of sense, not even to me. They're kind of vague and impressionistic. For years I tried to get better at it.

So I have a world of respect for someone like my friend Kevin Kendrick of A Big Yes and a small no, who can sing:

Yesterday, I robbed a bank and blew it all on flowers

While you were gone I talked about you for hours.

But that's way out of my reach.

So the main reason I don't have singing in my music is that it took me 20 years to realize I have no natural gift for writing lyrics. Maybe I don't have a lot to sing about. I'm not the worst singer in the world, as long as I can just go "ooh" and "aah" with one or two other people in the background.

For years, this felt like a limitation. Then one night in 1999, a light bulb appeared above my head, marked "instrumental pop music." Suddenly the no-singing went from a limitation to a gateway of possibility. Anything can happen. You can get away from verse-chorus-verse song forms. The concept of the tune is no longer limited by the parameters of the singer's personal problems or love life. The music can be "about" anything, or it can be just what it is, without pointing to something else. And it becomes immediately more acceptable to people who do not speak English. And when no particular human voice is front and center, you can finally hear the bass guitar. When you get to the gig, you don't need a sound system. You don't even need a microphone. When it comes time to make a record, you can mix it in half the time.

From then on, I've been pretty earnest about making three-minute pop tunes where you don't miss the singing.

I have said enough, so I'll stop talking and play you a little tune on the Wurlitzer...

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Audio Playlist

Latest Release: "Pale Afternoon"

 The latest release  from Jim  Duffy is "Pale Afternoon," a  collection of 11  moody and bouncy  instrumental pop tunes. Buy CDs here.

Music Available

You can find Jim Duffy's music on CD Baby.

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Some music tracks are now available on YouTube, both here and on the 3dotsmusic channel.

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