Saturday, February 13, 2010

Music Making

There’s not much more to my music than technique and attitude. When I improvise and compose, what comes out is within the limits of my technique (as in, ability to actually play the notes) and an expression of my attitude. My technique is formed by specific rudimental exercises that I practice and everything else that I actually play like standards, Mixolydian scales, diminished voicings and so on. I guess my attitude is formed by the music that I listen to and the studying of the attitudes of the improvisers/composers that I like. I study them by talking to them, reading about them and just listening to their music.

Listening is a big thing for me. I think the power of listening to music in a non-analytical way is underestimated in the Jazz world. Musicians can easily get caught up in the whole “he played the flat nine and jumped to the 3rd of the next chord and then played the triton substitution” kind of listening and forget that the music they are playing is an expression of their attitude towards life. These bebop musicians were hard living (and sometimes arrogant) people - not nerds in a University sitting over a text book. This is not to say I don’t listen in an analytical way, of course we all need to listen with a fine comb, but also to know when.

The answer is many answers in a way. We should listen to many different types of music in many different ways. Who can say they differentiate between appreciating a type of music and being turned on by music? Who listens to certain styles of music only for the academic and mathematical content and other styles just to chill out? Perhaps when transcribing a solo by a jazz musician we should ask some questions about how we are listening and set aside time to listen to the same song with a different mindset. all these questions and the many questions unasked and the many answers that there are, come into the overall whole that is my attitude. It’s all about diversity and widening the spectrum.

My attitude is expressed within my technical limitations. I work on my technique as much as I can (or at least I sometimes like to think I do). It’s not a matter of having just enough technique to do what you want, or even playing all you can with the technique that you have. It’s a matter of working on technique and then expressing your attitude. Simple as that. What comes out is music. My music created in the only and best way I can.

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