Yep. Ghana is the Shit.
I don’t want to spend too much time writing this because I feel like I am learning so much every minute that I spend here.
In just a week I’ve learned five tunes on the Ghanaian Xylophone and a 12 series dance and drum routine.
I feel highly motivated to learn everything so I am learning at a much higher pace.
I have completely abandoned my practice routine—which I thought I needed when I arrived in India and was faced with the opportunity of complete immersion like I am experiencing here.
I am learning about aesthetics and not the saxophone and that doesn’t scare me like it used to.
I believe that I’m an artist and that studying aesthetics is worthwhile. When I arrived in India I still wanted to be a musician—which in my mind was a technician—being a musician meant that I was doing “real” work and not art, which to me was not real work. I know now that even harder than playing the saxophone is deciding what I like, what I don’t, why, what to do about it, and believing that it all matters. (https://nicholaspayton.wordpress.com/2011/11/27/on-why-jazz-isnt-cool-anymore/) A couple Nick Payton quotes:
“too many musicians not enough artists”
“Life is bigger than music unless you love an/or play jazz” his point being that jazz is a limited, outdated, racist idea (something Gary Bartz also believes that’s has been on my mind a lot lately).
My desire to be a good student always led me to be a good jazz player now my desire to be a good student pushes me to be something else. Which makes me re-define what it means to be a good student.
The music center I am staying at is great.
The musicians here don’t think of time in terms of 1-2-3-4 they think more in terms of the interrelationship between different cycles of rhythms.
The metaphor I keep thinking of is a graph with the x axis un-labeled. The information that is emphasized is the different lines and not their exact measurements even though those measurements are still mostly present.
Unlike European rhythm, which emphasizes precision and unity of attack, this approach emphasizes consistent rhythmic dissonance (my beat vs. your beat) which makes the rhythm more like speech or heartbeat (arrhythmia).
Christianity is deep in the culture here and that single fact makes it feel much much more like home than Thailand or India ever did and shows how deeply that religion influences American culture.
The root of every music we could call “American” comes from here.
If music reflects culture what does this say about the debt that Americans owe to enslaved Africans?
I visited Cape Coast Slave Castle and to me it feels like an un-payable debt.
I am SO glad I went to India before I came here. If I had never studied rhythm seriously and had not experienced the inconveniences and fears of living in the so-called third world I would be more lost and distracted than I am now.
This is great. My teacher keeps telling me to “enjoy it” in reference to the feeling of what I am playing.
I’ve been dancing and yesterday I actually had a lot of fun doing it.
I feel a passion that I haven’t felt about music for a while.