Tradition and the Individual Talent

I don't have too much to add this week but I'm trying to stay regular with my posts.

I feel I've turned a corner both personally and musically. Although I still feel the ups and downs I feel like I have just about "gotten used" to living here. There is so much about day to day life that is so different and caused me a lot of anxiety when I first got here that I am now accustomed to dealing with an even makes me feel powerful to overcome.

I tend to think that improvement comes about 2-3 months on the heels of work so I think it makes sense that this week I felt a couple of things click in my mind. They're simple realizations but they have lasting effects on my music.

The first is that Carnatic music is all centered around imitating the human voice. Much like jazz the lyrics are of paramount importance and they shape the entire composition. I have found myself thinking of my saxophone as a voice in a real and complete way. this is something that I always strived for in school but I somehow never understood what it feels like. I have a new and different feeling of playing now that seems much more directly related to my voice. I don't think this is something i can quantify or prove to anyone but I know it is true and that it feels better.

The second is that I am experiencing time more cyclically than I have before. In the same way that Oberlin taught me to see the notes a c e and g and know immediately that those notes formed an Amin7 I am noticing that I will see a string of eighth notes followed by a half note and know that that is a 10 meaning that there are 10 pulses (8th notes) that could be stretched in difference subdivisions repeated on themselves or manipulated in other ways. Both these types of thinking are just emerging in my mind but I feel that they will have a lasting impact on my music.

I have also been contemplating my individual sound a lot more than I ever had before I came here. Being removed from any kind of jazz culture for more than 3 months has made a big change in my aesthetic. It's for the better. I think I was getting a little obsessed with how to play jazz the best and maybe losing sight of how to play the best music. Of course those goals are closely aligned but I don't think they're exactly the same.

My guru wrote his doctoral thesis based on this essay. I think there area  lot of good thoughts in here and I'll pull a couple quotes. Like a lot of good writing I feel it is hard to pull any sound bite from this article without more explanation. But I'm still digesting the content and I don't really feel I have much to add to what's already in the essay... so the quotes are a little long. I think this one is worth a full read though.

"The existing monuments form an ideal order among themselves, which is modified by the introduction of the new (the really new) work of art among them. The existing order is complete before the new work arrives; for order to persist after the supervention of novelty, the whole existing order must be, if ever so slightly, altered; and so the relations, proportions, values of each work of art toward the whole are readjusted; and this is conformity between the old and the new. "

"To proceed to a more intelligible exposition of the relation of the poet to the past: he can neither take the past as a lump, an indiscriminate bolus, nor can he form himself wholly on one or two private admirations, nor can he form himself wholly upon one preferred period. The first course is inadmissible, the second is an important experience of youth, and the third is a pleasant and highly desirable supplement."

"When the two gases...are mixed in the presence of a filament of platinum, they form sulphurous acid. This combination takes place only if the platinum is present; nevertheless the newly formed acid contains no trace of platinum, and the platinum itself is apparently unaffected; has remained inert, neutral, and unchanged. The mind of the poet is the shred of platinum. It may partly or exclusively operate upon the experience of the man himself; but, the more perfect the artist, the more completely separate in him will be the man who suffers and the mind which creates; the more perfectly will the mind digest and transmute the passions which are its material."

 Much love.