A person who gives this some thought and yet does not regard music as a marvelous creation of God, must be a clodhopper indeed and does not deserve to be called a human being; he should be permitted to hear nothing but the braying of asses and the grunting of hogs.– Martin Luther
Over the years I've collected anecdotes about 'interesting' experiences people have had with music, mostly as performers, but some as listeners. I'd enter them into a document so I could find them easily when it came time to write this or that about music. I recently decided to post a slightly edited version of that document to the web so others could appreciate and work with these stories. You can find that document at my Academia.edu site:
The document is in three parts. The first is some experiences I’ve had as a musician which give me some insight into how emotion & magic arise in musical performance. The second part contains a few statements by listeners. The third part is a list of passages by various performers that I’ve collected from various sources over the years.
I've listed two entries from the document, one about five jazz musicians, the other by Martin Luther, and the table of contents.
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Earl Hines, Art Hodes, Roy Eldridge, Ornette Coleman, Sid Catlett
Whitney Balliett. American Musicians: 56 Portraits in Jazz. New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press: 1986.
p. 87, Earl Hines talking:
I'm like a race horse. I've been taught by the old masters – put everything out of your mind except what you have to do. I've been through every sort of disturbance before I go on the stand, but I never get so upset that it makes the audience uneasy. . . . I always use the assistance of the Man Upstairs before I go on. I ask for that and it gives me courage and strength and personality. It causes me to blank everything else out, and the mood comes right down on me no matter how I feel.
p. 151, Art Hodes talking:
Now, you can play the blues and just go through the changes and not feel it. That has happened to me for periods of time, and I can fool anybody but me. Right now I'm in a blues period. The blues heal you. When I play, I ignore the audience. I bring all my attention to bear on what I'm playing, bring all me feelings to the front. I bring my body to bear on the tune. If it's a fast tune – a rag – I have to make my hands be where they should be. . . . I'm trying to get lost in what I'm doing, and sometimes I do, and it comes out beautiful.
p. 176, Roy Eldridge talking, about playing the Paramount Theatre with Gene Krupa:
When the stage stopped and we started to play, I'd fall to pieces. The first three or four bars of my first solo, I'd shake like a leaf, and you could hear it. Then this light would surround me, and it would seem as if there wasn't any band there, and I'd go right through and be all right. It was something I never understood.
p. 407, Ornette Coleman talking:
I don't think about feeling, seeing, or thinking. I try to have the player and the listener have the same sound experience. I'm not thinking about mood or emotion. Emotion should come into you instead of going out.
p. 187, Mel Powell, talking about Sidney Catlett:
He'd fasten the Goodman band into the tempo with such power and gentleness that one night I was absolutely transported by what he was doing.
Forward to Georg Rhau's Symphoniae, a collection of chorale motets published in 1538, as follows:
I, Doctor Martin Luther, wish all lovers of the unshackled art of music grace and peace from God the Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ! I truly desire that all Christians would love and regard as worthy the lovely gift of music, which is a precious, worthy, and costly treasure given to mankind by God. The riches of music are so excellent and so precious that words fail me whenever I attempt to discuss and describe them.... In summa, next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world. It controls our thoughts, minds, hearts, and spirits... Our dear fathers and prophets did not desire without reason that music be always used in the churches. Hence, we have so many songs and psalms. This precious gift has been given to man alone that he might thereby remind himself that God has created man for the express purpose of praising and extolling God. However, when man's natural musical ability is whetted and polished to the extent that it becomes an art, then do we note with great surprise the great and perfect wisdom of God in music, which is, after all, His product and His gift; we marvel when we hear music in which one voice sings a simple melody, while three, four, or five other voices play and trip lustily around the voice that sings its simple melody and adorn this simple melody wonderfully with artistic musical effects, thus reminding us of a heavenly dance, where all meet in a spirit of friendliness, caress and embrace. A person who gives this some thought and yet does not regard music as a marvelous creation of God, must be a clodhopper indeed and does not deserve to be called a human being; he should be permitted to hear nothing but the braying of asses and the grunting of hogs.and
.... if one sings diligently with skill and application, then music can make man good and at peace with himself and his fellows by providing him a view of beauty. Music drives away the devil and makes people happy; it induces one to forget all wrath, unchastity, arrogance, and other vices, quia pacis tempore regnat musica (for music reigns in times of peace).
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PART 1 • Music Through Me 3
Mind, body, and music 3On lizard brain: animal power 3Magic of the Bell 4Ego loss 5Lump in the throat 5A well-formed solo 6Autopilot 6White-out 6Confounded expectations 7Pickup Group: Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door 7For the Children 8Recognition 9William Parker Workshop 10Jamming for Peace 11Trickster 12
PART 2 • Listener’s Speak 15
My Music 15An 8-year old 16Alias high on Trane 16Kronos Quartet 17A Resonant Sound 17
PART 3 • Testify! 20
Musicians on Performing 20Leonard Bernstein 20Leonard Bernstein, West Side Story 20Vladimir Horowitz, Leonard Bernstein 21Pablo Casals 21Seymour Bernstein 22Yehudi Menuhin 22Dizzy Gillespie 22Earl Hines, Art Hodes, Roy Eldridge, Ornette Coleman, Sid Catlett 23Harvey Swartz 23Ira Sullivan 24Sonny Rollins, Roy Eldridge 24Stephanie Burrous, Terence Blanchard 24Miles Davis 25David Craig, Lena Horne 25Milt Jackson 26Neil Young 26Smyth, Bullard, O’Conner, Marsalis, Starr, Lewis, Clapton 26Jean-Baptiste Arban 27Cuda Brown 28North Indian in studio 28William Harvey 28Martin Luther 30Miles Plays: My Man’ s Gone Now 30Penn Gillette in the Groove 31Paul McCartney 32