Saturday, August 28, 2021

Pat Metheny discusses music with two neuroscientists

Interesting, but not as interesting as it could have been if, for example, the neuroscientists had deeper practical experience with musical performance. I"m sure Metheny has had experiences I'd want to add to my collection, Emotion and Magic in Musical Performance. He gets to the edge of that territory several times, but quite crosses over.

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At some point one of them asks Metheny about "emotion" and when he's playing his best. Metheny says something to the effect that, at that time, he 'filled up' with the music and doesn't have room for anything else. While I know what "emotion" means, I wonder if Metheny's being asked about crying, or nearly so, as that comes up as a response to music. I wish they'd have pushed him more specifically on that. Anyhow, I have some passages on crying while playing in the "Emotion and Magic" document:

Daniel M. Neuman. The Life of Music in North India. Chicago and London: U. of Chicago Press 1990.

p. 61: Some musicians claim to have had religious experiences through their music, but these all have the characteristic of happenstance. Such experiences can also occur in seemingly unlikely context:

One day I was playing in Studio One [at All India Radio] with no one around. I felt myself crying, tears flowing down my face. I did not know why; but all of a sudden I realized this was something Divine. I said "O God, this is the time you have done something for me. You have given me the power to create this music."

p 62: Wahid Khan insisted that he could sing and that if his father, who was also his ustad, would pray for him, he would surely be successful. He climbed onto the dais and faced the direction of Nizamuddin Auliya's tomb . . . and started with an alap (introductory movement), which he continued for forty-five minutes. After that he gained control of his voice and started the khayal in rag Gujari Todi called "Meri maiya par karo, Ustad Nizamuddin Auliya" ("Let my boat cross, Ustad Nizamuddin Auliya"). After that his music was so inspiring that "ninety-nine percent of the audience was moved to tears. Everyone was equally affected, irrespective of their taste and attitude towards music."

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Alex Bilmes, Paul McCartney Opens Up About Lennon, Yoko, and More, Esquire Magazine, July 6, 2015 @ 11:42 AM

ESQ: So you don't find yourself moved, in the way the crowd is, by the emotional content of the songs?

PM: Not all the time. You wouldn't be able to sing. You'd just be crying. But yeah, there are moments. I think it was in South America. There was a very tall, statuesque man with a beard, very good-looking man. And he had his arm round what was apparently his daughter. Might not have been! No, it was, it was clearly his daughter. I'm singing 'Let it Be' and I look out there and I see him standing and she's looking up at him and he glances down at her and they share a moment, and I'm like, "Whoa!" [He shivers.] It really hit me. It's hard to sing through that. You see quite a bit of that. If I ever spot anyone crying during 'Here Today', that can set me off. I mean, on one level it's only a song and on another it's a very emotional thing for me. And when I see some girl totally reduced to tears and looking at me singing it catches me by surprise. This really means something to her. I'm not just a singer. I'm doing something more here.

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Interview by Josephine Reed for the National Endowment for the Arts, 201X. Odadaa! is Yacub Addy’s ensemble. Amina Addy is Yacub’s wife.

NEA: Yacub, what was that first performance in Congo Square like?

Addy: It's hard to talk about. Even when I arrived at the airport in New Orleans, I got shivers, and I made prayers for all those who had died in the storm. When I arrived at the park the day of the premiere, I was thinking about all the slaves and free people who had played there so many years ago and passed away. And I thought about all those who had died in the recent storm. I walked over to the statue of Louis Armstrong with a couple of the guys in Odadaa!. We made prayers there. Congo Square was a center for African religion, as well as music and dance, so I asked the jinn to let us do our concert there that day. It was a very hot day, but I was chilly. I asked the guys if they heard something. They said they didn't hear anything. But I heard something like whispers. I went to our trailer dressing room. I didn't feel like myself and I was very cold. Before I went on the stage, I went back to the statue by myself and prayed again. When I came on the stage, the voices became louder, telling me to drum. When I started drumming, they went away. The crowd was so responsive. The music was still developing, but the spirit of all the artists was so strong that day. It is love that made Congo Square work. If Wynton and I did not love each other, the music would never have worked.

Amina Addy: Later, on tour in North Carolina, Yacub was overcome with feelings on stage during the first half. It started during "Timin Timin". Tears were streaming down his face and he was playing like he never played before. Only Wynton, Imani, our vocalist, and I, saw what was happening. Imani and I walked him to his dressing room for intermission. I helped him change his outfit for the second half and gradually he came back to us. Many artists have had experiences like that.

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