Music

Welcome to Music  

The first time I blew into a trumpet, in the 6th grade, what came out was the moo of a sick cow. Undeterred, however, I kept at it. With the help of some great teachers and daily practice, I was able, after a few months, to play sounds that were recognisable as melodies. By the time I entered 7th grade, when I started playing in the middle school jazz band, I already knew that I wanted to be a rich and famous jazz trumpet player. Nobody told me that the adjectives “jazz” and “rich” rarely belong together!

That same year I remember a conversation I had with my uncle, a lifelong jazz aficionado, who told me I should listen to Miles Davis. “Miles who?” I responded. The first time I heard a recording of Miles I wasn’t too impressed. But subsequent listens marked the beginning of my education in aesthetic perception. By the start of 8th grade Miles was my man. 

Forty years later he still is. I listen to Miles every week, if not every day, of my life. With each listen, I notice more of the subtle qualities that distinguish his voice and music. Even after a hundred listens, every encounter is like meeting for the first time. Music that stands the test of time, merits many listens. In exchange for the costly investment of your sustained attention, it will yield to you more and more of its treasure.

As with all the arts, educating our perception takes time; but it’s not just quantity, it’s quality of time that matters. You don’t need lots of information. I spent ten years in music school filling my head, but it didn’t really impact how my heart receives music. The important thing is to experience music personally, like an intimate face-to-face conversation with a friend. Reach out to it with an open heart as it reaches out to you, seeking emotional connection. Don’t worry about naming what you feel. Let go of distractions, be present, and the music will move you.

JKG, February 2019

 

A Nexus Hang plan: Share your favorite song

A Nexus Hang plan: Share your favorite song

A Nexus Hang happens whenever you get together with your friends for meaning-making through the arts. The way it happens is through a simple three-step process. First we invite our friends together for this hang with a purpose. Secondly, somebody who’s designated to...

A Song That’s Changing My Life: At the Root of Helan Mountain

A Song That’s Changing My Life: At the Root of Helan Mountain

来自张之白 By Zhang Zhibai (James) 苏阳的歌有一种土的味道,像一片广阔的黄土地,也像黄河里厚重的泥沙。千百年来,中国西北地区最原始的声音正在以一种新的生命形式向我们传来。在这最朴实的声音里,我听到的是无数鲜活的生命与故事、劳动与爱情……今天我把苏阳的这首《贺兰山下》带给你。这首歌的作者苏阳站在贺兰山下一马平川的景象中,看着自然景象,畅想了很多很多,电贝司、吉他和民族的伴奏乐器让我不由得听到了西北苍凉的风声,也能强烈感受到歌手对生命的尊重与敬畏,我爱这种音乐风格,这种最朴实无华的艺术表达。 Chinese...

Listening to music without words?

Listening to music without words?

Why listen to music without words?  As a jazz trumpet player, I have a personal stake in this question. Recently I proposed to a local coffee shop to host some Jazz concerts. They responded positively, but insisted that I include a singer in my group (which I don’t...

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