Monday, January 12, 2015

a Psalm of Jazz, in the Key of Coltrane

I've never understood people who listen to music while they write.

Music has always been for me a tangible thing. It's not just that I feel the presence of the musician, it's also that the notes themselves have weight, shape, energy, and even almost mass. How do you carry that around your mindspace while trying to write? How do you manage the cross-purposes of the music and the written wordsomething that's specifically Other to the music? I'm baffled.

This morning on futility closet I came across the following video from jazz composer and saxophonist John Coltrane (to whom I used to listen whilst falling asleep) where he plays out the words to Psalm, a poem he'd written in the liner notes of his album.

From futility closet: 

" 'I think music can make the world a better place and, if I'm qualified, I want to do it,' Coltrane had said, 'I'd like to point out to people the divine in a musical language that transcends words. I want to speak to their souls.' "

Watch this video follow through the Psalm as Coltrane plays it, word for word. Although I'm aware that not all music is this intentionally verbal, I think it nonetheless speaks to the tangibility of even lyric-less musicthe shape-full structure that makes it so hard for me, as a writer, to ignore...


A Love Supreme: 4th Movement - Psalm - In John Coltrane's words. from james carey on Vimeo.

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