Day in the life

Yesterday I kept my recent promise to myself to do more composing and sketching. This is the second sketch I have done in the last few days. I have not promised myself I will compose everyday. Just that I will do it often.

I spent a lot of time yesterday thinking about jazz and classical music in general. I have been reading in “Blue: the murder of jazz” by Eric Nisenson.  This book was recommended to me by Brian Coyle who teaches at the local college. I found myself disagreeing with the author constantly.

Brian recommended the book because he thought I was interested in the current conversation about whether Jazz is one thing or another thing. One the one side seems to be people like Wynton Marelis who look to the past of Jazz and see it basically rooted in its Blues’ origin. On the other side are the experimenters.

Nisenson (who according to the Wiki article linked above died  in 2003) is a Jazz critic and he writes as much about critics as the Jazz itself. He gets mired down in the discussion of who is an authentic player of Jazz (are they African American? Who is important?).

I am pretty disinterested in both Nisenson’s ideas and the conversation he is part of.

I am more interested in the question of “what is music for?”  Specifically the concept of heritage and canon beyond pedagogical needs of artists seems to me to an overlooked aspect of both classical and jazz music.

I think the music of the past is very important. I study and play it constantly. But I also think that the notion that listeners must constantly adapt themselves and their abilities to a canon because it is “great music”  is confused.

I do think that listeners, myself included, grow and change. I think we get better listening skills as we use them.

But right now at the end of a hundred year gap between Western Civ Art composers and audiences, I think its time for music (and the arts) to step up to the plate and be recognized as constituent to being human.  Yes Shakespeare and Proust shape the notion of what it is to be a human being in the Western Civ sitatuation. But they are very far from the last word. The isolation and class structure that produced these men is gone.

Humans are connected in different ways. This means we need different art, literature and music to help us connect both to our rapidly changing social environment and to our relationship to our selves.

What I take from this is that if you as a listener relate to music of the past (be it jazz, classical whatever), this is great. But if you don’t and you can find your connection in other places like popular and/or world music this is still great.

The funny result of this is that I spent a lot of time listening to early Louie Armstrong recordings yesterday and thinking about his solos and the solos of other musicians he is playing with in the twenties, specifically King Oliver.

They are developing the idea of the improvised solo. It sounds like first there were multiple improvised solis. In other words, the group improv came first. And like Thespis, Armstrong, Oliver and others stepped away from the chorus and began wailing their own improvised ideas.

It is interesting to listen to this old recordings in this way.

On another note, this morning while attempting to move the worm bin outside, I accidentally dropped the lowest of several trays. It was full of yummy black nitrogen water and dirt. This mixture went all over the kitchen floor.

I have spent the last hour or so cleaning. I am waiting for part of the floor to dry so that I can do the rest.

I meet with Jen the priest in a couple of hours and am madly reading some resource material in between cleaning and writing on the blog.

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