Opinions…. or ?

I’ve been planning to muse on the difficulty firstly, of writing about music and secondly holding opinions about it. Now I’ve had two little prompts.

The first is from a post by trumpeter Dave Douglas on his Greenleaf Music site (http://greenleafmusic.com). He says

(Ear training) is about sound in a given place in a given time. Text can’t capture that…

He’s talking about Ear training and its an interesting post for musicians… you get quite an insight into the stuff he’s done as well as about 10 years’ worth of practice material! It captures the difficulty rather neatly though I think; how do you write about music sensibly, especially jazz, when its essentially of the moment evokes an entirely personal and highly individual response and is an experience more like sensation or feeling than a conversation; words can only hint at the experience to the extent that we recall similar ‘sensations’ as the writer when prompted by particular words . Which brings me to the other dilemna….

Georgia wondered whether I’d nodded off in a Ballad at a Brandford Marsalis gig – in fact the opposite was the case. That’s the problem with opinions and responses – the former are formulated and deliberated on, the latter instinctive. In fact I have loved that Quartet’s music on CD, so was baffled by my response.

So, I’m coming to a few conclusions. Our response to music, performed live or recorded, is quite a complicated mix of what the musicians are doing and what we bring to it – mood, ears (pace Dave Douglas), experience, taste. Opinions are, in part but not exclusively, informed and shaped by the responses.

I’m inclined to think our response is more to do with ourselves than with what the musicians do.


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