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Monday, September 13, 2010


A few days ago I wrote about Wright's Ragtime piano album Breakin' Notes, and wrote that I thought the four Bix Beiderbecke's pieces were impressionistic. I swear the comment was merely based on my own impression: primarily the "in-between" tonality and melodies as well as the theme/context suggested by the titles -- "Candlelights", "Flashes", "In the Dark", and "In a Mist". It seemed to me pretty obvious that these pieces were each composed to convey a mood with reference to a particular situation. "Impressionistic" was, I felt in my gut, the best word to describe them.

Imagine my surprise when I finally sat down today and read Wright's extensive notes (printed in the accompanying booklet) about the pieces in the album regarding Beiderbecke's piano compositions:

...[M]any have pointed out that in both his cornet and piano solos, Beiderbecke betrays a keen interest in the Impressionists.

Shit, I swear I don't even know what musical Impressionism means! I only know a little about Impressionism pertaining to Monet and Renoir in art. Apparently, Debussy and Ravel are representatives of Impressionist music. I was completely ignorant of the concept, yet it is naturally obvious to me that Impressionism was Bix Beiderbecke's approach to composing these four jazz piano songs. No joke. Perhaps this coincidences implies a common pathway/process in the human senses and experience involved in music, art, and language (sound, sight, and abstract thoughts).

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