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Friday, December 17, 2010

Pale Words, Bright Notes

In Episode 9 of Jazz, Matt Glaser, one of the musicians interviewed on tape said something illuminating.

When we talk about the music, the reason we use terms that sound vague is not that there's something vague about music, but because music expresses the human experience so specifically ... that when you attempt to find language to describe that [experience], words fall short. What's falling short in that equation is language, not music. Music expresses things that cannot be expressed in any other way. That's why it is so important.

This insight is truer than anything I have heard about the tension, connection, translation, and betrayal between language and music. Music is most definitely far more directly connected with the "primitive" and powerful human emotions and instinct than the top-layer, abstract, codified, and indirect expression of language. Music comes far closer and goes far deeper into the truth of our humanity than words. It is in a place within ourselves that our conscious mind can never approach.

And JAZZ does this far more effectively, urgently, and intimately than any other types of music, for me.

Glaser also said,
People have really underestimated the intellectual achievement of Jazz and what it tells us about the human mind --- how capacious the mind is.

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