Giving Substance to The Music

Improvised music is the music to which I am beholden. Beholden, because all I have heard has bolstered my inner self, has reminded me that I am alive, has taught me that the creative process extends beyond the immediate result. The process is the key. Those moments when the music touches me are glorious renewing moments. Like being in the night and gazing at billions of stars over head, as meteors streak across the sky, unannounced.

To recognize the significance of "the music", about which I mostly write, is the intention of my writing, in general. How this happens is different in listening to every recording, to experiencing every concert. If I were to weigh down myself with pre-conceptions of how the music is supposed to sound, based on all the other music I have heard and the intake of the material, historical and editorial, in the books I have read, the writing simply would not happen. I think self-consciously every time I write about music, that I will expose my ignorance, my inability to describe what I hear, an inept vocabulary, and no awareness of musical technique

I am not a musician. I am not a composer. I am a sponge. I can hear relationships in all types of music. I can make sense out of seemingly strange juxtapositions of players, musical genres, and within performance ethics, both recorded and in concert.

Everything is related to everything else. Music possesses osmotic evolution. It might be unclear at times in which direction the osmosis is flowing, maybe a better way to describe the motion would be capillary action where music’s impact spreads from a central drop point and moves until its resonance fades.

Think of the difference between the space between these words, your mind and how the words are understood, and the space between the origins of the sounds of music and your ears . The difference is time + sound waves. I suppose the mind receives the words in somewhat the same way as the sound waves in terms of information. But it is the kind of information that is important. There is no "thing-ness" to music. Hearing music is an organic process. The mind assigns it meaning as it is heard-as it might reference emotion that is heartfelt, taken in, and triggers a recollection of pleasure, pain, sorrow, yearning, mournfulness, a sense of community, a sense of solitude the gamut of human experience. With the revival of human experience comes history: the stories of survival, living, fighting, transcending, loving, death.

How deeply these stories affect the listener influences the "success" of the music that tells them, and determines how well the music is received. Its impression is also measured by how the listener responds to the music, and what the listener does with that response later.

These stories in the telling also affect the musicians. The essence of the stories drives the musicians to make better music. Tell better stories. Give themselves more freedom through a heightened awareness of their creative capacity. Give themselves more of a perspective on the direction they want to take. Widening the musical landscape is a salient stage in the capturing of creative urges and developing their cumulative totality into tractable instinct.

Writing about the impact of creation lies along the edge of subjective interpretation and true to form description of what is heard. To maintain clarity of sight, it is necessary to stay on that edge, in the same place as the music.

If music meant nothing to me, I might as well listen to static. Music flushes the fuzziness out of my existence.

I can substantiate my innate standards of writing with many examples of the way music is viewed by practicing musicians and by authors of recent books on the sociological stance of African-Americans. But, I will refrain from pursuing these academic footnotes. I would rather speak from my heart, which method of expression has been advocated by one of the musicians about whom I write and to whom I silently dedicate this article.

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