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  1. #1

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    This is an informal post I made on the music education theorist Thomas Regelski. It may interest someone, who knows?

    These are BIG questions for me at the moment, but not directly connected to playing. But the question, for instance, what is music theory FOR, is one worth asking. Anyway:
    ------

    I find Thomas Regelski’s ideas to be hugely compelling as an educator, even as I feel there’s a lot that’s problematic.

    Regelski argues strongly in favour of music education that emphasises holistic concerns and ‘right action’ above the purely aesthetic values of traditional Western music education. This could include; social change, physical and mental well-being of students and the fulfilment of community and social roles far outside the scope of traditional concerts and conservatoires. This is at its core an ethically minded project as well as an artistic one. This is what he means by the term praxis.

    Regleski is keen to root his argument in the history of Western ideas, including those of Aristotle, Kant and the Frankfurt School. Contrasting the traditional roles of music throughout the world, whether in religious contexts, vernacular music or the aristocratic court, he argues that music held a fundamentally functional role within human society.

    According to Regelski, the concept of aesthetics – for instance, how music theory might appreciate a score outside of historical or social context – is fundamentally an Enlightenment/positivist and later Romantic project. Regelski also identifies with the growing bourgeois class in Europe at the time. For instance, in the modern world the very name ‘Mozart’ suggests some eternal artistic gold standard, outside of its context within history and society to be understood purely as a timeless artistic object. ‘Music from Mars’ as Regleski expresses it.[1]This is reflected in the language we often use for something of artistic value; ‘classic’, ‘timeless’, ‘deathless’ and so on.

    It’s not hard to see this attitude articulate throughout music education. Even in music educational movements that promise a transformational societal praxis such as El Sistema, the idea that classical music is ‘good for its own sake’ and furthermore to conflate this aesthetic goodness with a social good, can be placed very much front and centre.

    Furthermore, Regelski makes some pointed and critical critiques of the idea of what he calls ‘methodolatry’ (idolatry of the method.) Music education is a hotbed of methods and systems that promise success to the student if they are followed faithfully and to exclusion of others. He emphasises the importance of teachers evaluating and testing these ideas for right outcomes, and for teachers to also examine carefully the way they were themselves taught instead of simply repeating the same methods.[2]

    Teachers, in his opinion, should be held to account and have a Hippocratic conception of ‘doing no harm’; which they are currently excused in current music education. I find it very hard to disagree with this idea. However, Regelski does seem often to be vague on the specifics of this phroenesis, this ‘right action.’[3]

    Jazz is often cited in Regelski’s work as a positive contrast to the world of classical music. For instance he compares the dry theorising of Rameau to the practical functional harmony of ‘the Jazz fake book.’ This is all very well, but as a jazz musician and teacher, I am more interested in how Regelski’s ideas affect my field directly.
    While I think jazz (in terms of music theory and education) is certainly more praxis oriented than classical music, I find myself identifying examples of every aspect of his critique of general music education within this field.

    For instance;
    - the methodolatry of such systems as Chord Scale Theory has proved to be a constant motif of many writers on jazz education.
    - contemporary jazz education has struggled to find the type of community or societal praxis suggested by Regelski.
    - a literature of music theory which seems geared increasingly towards analysis of great music and couched in aesthetic language rather than towards pure improvisational praxis.
    - Jazz, like classical, has a pantheon of greats whose music is seen through the lens of the 'music from Mars' rather than place in the context of its era (Wynton Marsalis, Nicholas Payton and other jazz luminaries have criticised this)
    And many others.

    That said, playing a style of music that has at best niche interest reveals me to indeed be a musical aesthete. If I didn’t think that jazz guitar was beautiful - a timeless aesthetic object and art for art’s sake - I would have no reason to play or teach it. It is neither a popular form of music, nor lucrative, nor engaged in any particular societal praxis. And 'music from Mars' was exactly what it seemed when I first started learning about it.

    While Regelski’s critique focusses on the idea of ‘objective’ understanding of beauty, you could argue you have to subscribe to this idea at least in part to have an enthusiasm for anything aside from the most popular chart music. Furthermore, I see it as part of my job to introduce student to what I think ‘great music.’ I would passionately argue that is an important aspect of being a music teacher – advocacy of the artform as art for its own sake. And this for me is part of Praxis itself.

    Furthermore, from what I have read so far, I can’t help but feel Regelski is strongest when engaging in critique than in how we can develop a new practice incorporating his ideas. This is no bad thing of itself but presents a challenge for the educator responding to his ideas.

    I look forward to exploring these ideas in greater depth, and how they specifically relate to my field of interest.

    [1] Thomas Regelski, Music and Music Education from Mars, Contemporary Aesthetics (Volume 15, 2017)
    [2] Thomas Regelski, On "Methodolatry" and Music Teaching as Critical and Reflective Praxis, Philosophy of Music Education Review Vol. 10, No. 2 (Fall, 2002), 102-123
    [3] Thomas Regelski, Critical Theory as a Foundation for Critical Thinking in Music Education, Visions of Research in Music Education, 6 (2005)

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  3. #2

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    Music can (and in my opinion should) be a social good. It can be pleasant to listen to, and joyful to dance to. It can inform (or propagandize), and entertain; stimulate the mind in subtle and not-so-subtle ways, and lift or depress the spirits of listeners and performers alike. The introduction of motifs; the gradual modification thereof; counter-motifs, embellishments, and summations provide the mind with rich material for absorption. The symphony is the playing out of these elements in time on the grand scale. in early jazz, musicians seeking to entertain themselves took songs that everyone already knew and "played with them", creating new music from old music in the process. "Theme and variations" eventually becomes "Playing the changes" and so on until we have whatever it is we have today. Jazz as it is now played encompassed all eras at once, to one degree or another, but its underlying appeal is the same: It stimulates the mind, and gives us pleasure, or at least, pause.

    I think.

  4. #3

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    Certainly the importance of community (Miles called jazz 'social music' remember) is something I plan to explore in the actual essay, which may end up becoming an appeal to community building as an extension of praxis. But first I need to read some critics of Regelski.

    The idea of music as a healing force is ancient. Is this something one can measure? Our methods of measurement are becoming more sophisticated, but is this positivistic approach necessarily the right approach? Can you measure lifted spirits?

    And yet Regelski seems to be arguing that we must find ways to hold ourselves accountable for these outcomes as music educators. Seems vague, because ....how?

  5. #4

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    I believe there is some data coming out from MRIs and CAT scans and such. I don't know if rigorous experiments are being designed and performed.

    For myself, I know that if a piece of music doesn't move or stimulate me, I switch (or play) something else. Life is too short for boring or irritating music (or art or craft of any kind).

  6. #5

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    There are differences between the study of aesthetics, the study of art history, courses in art appreciation, and technical training on how to draw, any or all of which might lumped together as "art education". Similar distinctions surely apply to "music education."

  7. #6

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    Art Pepper says in his biography that when he was in some terrible prison (San Quentin?), the guards were always very happy for his little jazz group (formed from fellow prisoners) to give concerts to the inmates. Because it always had the effect of calming them down, stopping them from rioting, killing each other, attacking the guards, etc. and the effect seemed to last for a while afterwards.

    Not sure if this is relevant, but quite interesting anyway.

  8. #7

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    So this touches on the theme of music’s use to promote social control. This is an ancient idea.

    IIRC In his perfect (autocratic) society, Aristotle suggested certain modes should forbidden to the masses as they would incite violent (and revolutionary) passions. OTOH soothing modalities would help promote social harmony.

    We see this idea used today as a form of social control - piped classical music in London tube stations to discourage youth loitering for instance. I’d be interested to know how much of this has a firm basis in research.

    less overtly we see the shadow of this idea in Venezuela’s El Sistema, where classical music is seen as a force for reducing crime and antisocial behaviour - a startlingly paternalistic and old school conservative idea when you think about it. Really it’s rooted in the class system and aristocracy.

    AFIAK there’s very little research to back this up. El Sistema was one of the most expensive public education projects in the world. It produced one world class orchestra, and not much else.

    This idea is venerable and cliche enough that Anthony Burgess was able to deconstruct and satirise it in A Clockwork Orange.

  9. #8

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    Lastly this idea can also be seen in the attempts during the Blair/New Labour years to attach social change to artistic institutions. You see this in outreach projects undertaken by for instance the LSO, Sage Gateshead and so on. State investment in arts institutions was often tied to social projects.

    20 years on, there is no evidence that any of this improved social outcomes for less advantaged social groups. Mostly, metropolitan middle class people took advantage of these moves.

    Perhaps music is mostly good at being music.

    It definitely turns out class has a lot to do with the perception of art.

    we can understand the Blair project (and third way liberalism in general) as the attempt to turn working class people into metropolitan middle class people. We know how well that worked out.

    BTW What is the case for classical music is also the case for jazz. While there are real attempts by organisations to outreach to diverse communities, name a well known UK jazz musician under 40 and it is likely they come from a wealthy, sometimes very wealthy background. Their education is often at the same elite private music schools (junior high and high schools US terms) as classical players.

    Its a harsh thing to say, but almost the entire UK scene is based around people from wealthy backgrounds extracting state funding to tour their jazz projects. In practice (because I am an aesthete) I see this as having value.

    However, there is often a rather ugly sense of entitlement from musicians. I have it myself. We expect to be able to play our niche music for money.

    Anyway, that’s not to dunk on the scene. There’s always been an element of this. But it shows that jazz is very much the music of the elites. So when we tak about social praxis... this is something to think about.

    I’m pleased to say there are those working in jazz edu who are very aware of these issues, but those who are from a middle class background often fail to see an issue.

  10. #9

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    Yea... I remember reading Davids Elliott's Philosophy of Music education... back in the 90's.. and I believe Christian has posted some of his ideas... Maybe.... I've just never really though of Music Ed. as a philosophy. Personally has always been more of a Trade.... Academia is just a different world. It tends to look line Credentials as compared to taking it's obligation to society seriously etc... (I'm still a believer of education and funding of).

    anyway great topic for serious cognitive bs... generally doesn't help your playing.

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Reg
    Yea... I remember reading Davids Elliott's Philosophy of Music education... back in the 90's.. and I believe Christian has posted some of his ideas... Maybe.... I've just never really though of Music Ed. as a philosophy. Personally has always been more of a Trade.... Academia is just a different world. It tends to look line Credentials as compared to taking it's obligation to society seriously etc... (I'm still a believer of education and funding of).

    anyway great topic for serious cognitive bs... generally doesn't help your playing.
    You dark horse, you. Don’t know Elliot really, but he seems to agree with me a lot, sensible chap.

    Actually Elliott might be more my thing. He’s more hands on while Regelski is annoyingly vague. I read a thing by him last night. Has a different idea of what praxis is it seems to me.

    Personally I want to get qualified for better teaching jobs, that’s my main objective. It doesn’t help your playing... otoh im open to the possibility it may help my teaching. Well see.

    It’s worked well so far. Or at least it’s made me what other teachers think of as a good teacher, as they observe what I’m doing and see me applying the same stuff they learned when they studied edu.

    OTOH a lot of peripatetic teachers who come purely from a performance background don’t know it and are stuck with very old school transmission teaching which is probably the way they were taught. So I’m hoping that’s useful for getting better gigs. We’ll see. (ATM I’m enjoying the online thing, different challenge again.)

    It’s analogous to playing haha.

  12. #11

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    Some one and two liners....Just don't become a hobbyist educator, help bridge the gap. Effective communication to all... knowledge production is useless without informative dissemination. Yada yada

    There's always the... " Academic fights are so bitter.... because the stakes are so Low".

    Kind of like getting into musical Function discussions referencing Riemann, Rameau and Schoenberg when talking with jazz guitarist. LOL

    I Know and learned many moons ago... if your going to get into applied abstract.... you better have the basics down.

    I do dig and believe the subject needs the attention... sorry for the bs

  13. #12

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    Reminds me of Miles Davis and his sensitivity to social reform, his admiration for both Dr King and Malcolm X... we see the same thing with Archie Shepp, Ornette Coleman, Charlie Haden, Sonny Rollins and today: Jason Lindner, Jack DeJohnette, Jan Garbarek and Maria Schneider just to name a few.

    Branford Marsalis is very well spoken and his ideas about music as communication with the audience, and his critique of overly intellectual, mathematic, conceptual music is very inspiring.
    Great players are often very much in touch with society and societal reform. Even Jarrett, who sometimes seems like the most autistic or self centred of all players, is quite “woke”.

    it’s being empathic with the plight of the little people and love for mankind that makes your art meaningful and warm. That’s why people relate to the passion of Picasso, Banksy, Haring, Basquiat.

    Elitists, fundamentalists and right winged extremists are united in their hatred for improvised, modern music and often art in general.
    Praxis vs Aesthetics-6be8c930-2699-447e-93ea-85b63fdace6b-jpeg
    Woody Guthrie painted “This machine kills fascists” on his guitar. And it’s the -sometimes naive- idea of artists who are sincere in their hope to contribute to a better world through their art, that makes their art so deeply felt.

  14. #13

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    Musicians - with relatively few exceptions - are generally progressive, but that doesn't mean their music has any progressive social praxis.

    I know many institutions are keen to reach out to more diverse people and develop some sort of social aspect, but the question would be how effective are they at doing this.

  15. #14

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    The other thing - and this is quite interesting - is that in an environment where projects of the type that pcjazz posted are seeking funding have to make the case for their project.

    Reflecting on things that didn't work is much harder in this environment. So, these types of project have an inevitable move away from disinterested (as much as possible) evaluation and towards advocacy. That's a real problem of how we do things.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    The other thing - and this is quite interesting - is that in an environment where projects of the type that pcjazz posted are seeking funding have to make the case for their project.

    Reflecting on things that didn't work is much harder in this environment. So, these types of project have an inevitable move away from disinterested (as much as possible) evaluation and towards advocacy. That's a real problem of how we do things.
    What's wrong with advocacy?

    I don't agree that it is more than usually difficult to reflect on what doesn't work in these circumstances. Assessing what worked and what went wrong then coming up with an improved model is an essential component of how to propose and fund such projects. The more significant difficulties are institutional ones. If you can persuade the bureaucracy --- in this case regional school authorities --- to become enthusiastic about the project then the (private) funding should be quite a small part of the problem, especially if the project has charity status so that donations are tax-deductible. (On the other hand, institutional support and charitable status both constrain advocacy.) If you can't get institutional sign-on then you are done---but for the necessary reflection on how that failed.

  17. #16

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    I agree about problems existing in musical education. And even agree in the way it is defined herein general.

    But for he rest of it...

    I am not teacher, only occasional - people usually like how I teach but.. I did not read books on teaching and also I do not read a lot about musical theory or its problems. Mostly I theoricize from music directly (though of course I was taught something and I refer to it but I am just trying to say I cannot refer to other works or researches).

    Aesthetics can be much more practical than people tend to think (as it seems to me they consider it to be something abstract, closer to pure philosophy). Another problem is that aesthetics is often mixed with aesthetism of early 20th century (of which Oscat Wilde is the most well-know representative) which is very special local (and mostly decadence) movement but this is where the association with snobish, unpractical, 'art for art' principle etc. came to daily life and became common.

    For me aesthetical feeling though is the basis of undestanding Art. Beauty is not only contemplative quality, beauty for me is first of all the Meaning. (I do not understand and - sincerely - just do not accept the conceptions of 'meaningless beauty or beauty of nothingness' for me the intensity of meanings creates real beauty).

    Music suffered most because people seems to take for granted that music is some kind of beauty without meaning (that you shold not think and that it should not mean anything). Another problem is that people think that meaing is verbalization. When I say that music means something they often consider it as if I want to translate it in particualr words but it is not like that of course. We percieve meaning before words.

    I see Three major ways of world perception: artistic, scientific and relisgious. They all mix in different proportions ethical and aesthetical principle. But only Art gives us a possibility to have the most direct connection between Me and The Other. Only Art can use conventional means for rendering non-conventional meanings so directly.
    In religions the Miracles work for the same function but in Religion the Miracle is one of the actions whereas in Art it is the essence and basis of it.
    Probably this is why Religious Art achieved such an incredible result. Art can express misraculous mystic experience better than mistic doctrine.
    In my youth I was interested in various mytic conceptions and once I had some kind of revelation, I read a book about medieval magicians or magi and suddenly I realized taht gifted poet or musician are much more powerful than any magic.


    Another very important point is personality. I consider the Art and artistic thinking connected with personality - I am often argued and criticized for that, they give me examples from medieval times when authorship was not that important. But I am stubborn, I believe the fact that we do not know the names of they did not care about it does not change anything essentially.
    When I react to the piece of Art I really react to personal world or the creator which for the moment is the only world existing.
    The Art does not create alternatice realities, it creates the only possible one.

    Sorry for such a long preface but it is important for understanding my following point.

    I think that when we speak about 'context of Art' we should speak not about History but about Culture.
    The Culture is much broader and much more subtle notion and may include History too (but also paradoxally may exclude it).

    Yes in the post it says ''context of its era'' which may mean culture but the idea of ear already contains strong historic reference.

    The Culture can be redueced to one persoality (even maybe to one piece of Art as expression of this personality right now) or can be expanded to a country/epoch and so on.

    Beside once we refer to the influence of the Enlightenment and romatica era on our perception we should nto forget that we percieve the idea of History and Era also from this perspective.

    In my opinion 'music from Mars' is a nice definition but the thing is...

    all the problem is that those conceptions are offered by peopel for whom all the music seems to be from Mars? So they are looking for keys to open up realitiies that are unclear and closed for them.
    But is it really possible?
    You are either there or here.

    And of you teach you just get people involved in your world - this is it.
    Once you begin to build up a general system or approach - you create another dead model - because this is how the culture works.
    This 'sky of ideas' gets forxen imidiately - only sensative artistic minds can escape it all the time.

    Peception is a tightrope walker who balances between differet lies trying to keep the sharp sense of reality.
    This is what is important to be taught



  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by pcjazz
    What's wrong with advocacy?
    did I say there was anything wrong with it?

    I don't agree that it is more than usually difficult to reflect on what doesn't work in these circumstances. Assessing what worked and what went wrong then coming up with an improved model is an essential component of how to propose and fund such projects.
    you can understand how the advocacy and reflection can come into conflict?

    Look, people jump onto bandwagons. It was el Sistema 10 years ago. It’s entirely possible for advocacy to affect these processes. Things can even become a bit of a cult. Methodolatry in fact.

    The more significant difficulties are institutional ones. If you can persuade the bureaucracy --- in this case regional school authorities --- to become enthusiastic about the project then the (private) funding should be quite a small part of the problem, especially if the project has charity status so that donations are tax-deductible. (On the other hand, institutional support and charitable status both constrain advocacy.) If you can't get institutional sign-on then you are done---but for the necessary reflection on how that failed.
    You would need to substantiate this rather than simply state it if you were writing this essay. It’s the sort of thing they mark me down for all the time haha.

    I’m not saying I disagree.

    Sounds like you are professionally involved in this to some extent yourself. You would scarcely be doing your job if you couldn’t create that enthusiasm. That also means you are a really bad person to evaluate your own projects dispassionately.

    You might ask - ‘why is this important?’ - and I might answer, perhaps we’ve made this a thing by taking music education out of the realm of the intangible and into the realm of social science. As soon as we start claiming that music can make social changes, the onus is on us to back this up.

    So Advocacy is important, necessary, but just because we think we are doing the right thing doesn’t mean we actually are. This is a good example of what Regelski is talking about.

  19. #18

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    i don’t necessarily think Regelski is opposed to the idea of beauty being important in music.

    (Me neither. My idea of hell is the sort of worthy social project that has no aesthetic value as an musical object in itself.)

    There is the philosophical idea that beauty has a moral virtue in itself. I think that’s a very old fashioned idea (Ancient Greek?) that you kind of have to hold as a religious view almost. Use as a basis for social projects etc has the dark side I outlined above without having to revert to Godwin’s law...

    On the other hand - the distinction between aesthetics as a sort of field of study as opposed to the human appreciation of beauty is formulated by this quote from Kant:

    “The Germans are the only people who currently make use of the word ‘aesthetic’ to signify what others call the critique of taste. This usage originated in the abortive attempt made by Baumgarten . . . to bring the critical treatment of the beautiful under rational principles, and so to raise its rules to the rank of a science. But such endeavors are fruitless.“

    I don’t get the impression that you are a German, so to speak...

    The we might also make a Kantian critique of jazz theory haha. People constantly ask questions on how to sound good from a theory perspective - what notes do I play on this progression? etc. It’s interesting to see how jazz theory books have a tension between the author’s intuitive professional realisation that this is not of course possible, but at the same time being pulled into the project almost by the very nature of writing an authoritative book. Levine’s Jazz Theory Book would be a good book to critique from this perspective.

  20. #19

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    Very heady topic, C and there have been some great, thoughtful responses. I'd like to touch on your highpoints:

    1. Functional role of Music in society: yes. However, in my opinion, as the music becomes less
    meaningful in its lyrics/melody, its function diminishes and, in a worse case scenario, looses its
    mojo. For example, what role can Music play in Society when it is comprised of undecipherable
    lyrics and unmemorable melodies we find in much popular music. And, in the case of Jazz and Classical Music, how will it survive when it is dumbed down to the masses? Smooth Jazz and Pops orchestras come to mind.

    2. Praxis- disagree. It might make "feel good" people but poor musicians. (Paragraph 4)

    3. Regelski, paragraph 6 believes in social function of Art vs. Art for Art's Sake--yes, it is social
    yet on many levels of appreciation. Wagner vs. Snoop Dog?

    4. Agree with challenging "methodolatry."

    5. Support musical "aesthetes."

    6. Introducing students to "Great Music." Yes, but this is highly objective based on the tastes of
    the teacher. For example, a teacher is a devotee of Atonal/Progressive/Free Form Jazz and he
    inundates a student with HIS concept of great music. However, the talented student despises
    this music and prefers lyrical/melodic Jazz and becomes disenchanted. Or, a teacher who believes the only good music is from the Baroque Period and obsessively teaches Bach,Handel,
    and Telemann while the students heart is in the Romantic Period. So, this is the danger of
    teaching "Great Music" when it falls in the hands of crusaders.

    Finally, C, you are in a noble profession that ,in my opinion, has degenerated to a very low point, with few exceptions, because of "Praxis." It serves to dumb down the curriculum as it avoids the meat and potatoes of the subject matter. If I want to learn a 2/5/1 progression in Music, how does anything of social value get involved in the teaching? If I am interested in solving a geometric equation, what's the purpose? I once remember a class I had in college in 18th Century English Literature. It was taught by a fine, interesting teacher with great academic credentials and with numerous publications to his name. It was during the Vietnam War and we had massive demonstrations on campus, race riots, and disturbing unrest among the students. So, the University was going to close the Spring semester early to avoid further problems and professors scrambled to salvage their waning classes and create final exams. So, the final exam for my 18th Century English Literature Class was--paint a picture, write a poem, or play a song describing how you feel about the Vietnam War. So, I invited the professor to our dorm for my performance/final exam playing with a pianist friend of mine. I played sax ,at the time, and told my pianist friend to comp on two chords: E and F# and I played the most ridiculous, atonal bullshit I could muster from my horn--screeching, grunting, bizarre, non-sequential riffs. When we finished, the professor(who liked me as a student) said: "I don't know how to grade you since I don't understand this music." I said, that's O.K. . . . just give me an "A" since it has nothing to do with 18th Century English Literature. He smiled and when I received my grades through the mail . . . I got an "A." Praxis??? Not in my world. Good playing . .. lyrically, tonally and with "soul" . . . Marinero

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marinero
    Very heady topic, C and there have been some great, thoughtful responses. I'd like to touch on your highpoints:

    1. Functional role of Music in society: yes. However, in my opinion, as the music becomes less
    meaningful in its lyrics/melody, its function diminishes and, in a worse case scenario, looses its
    mojo. For example, what role can Music play in Society when it is comprised of undecipherable
    lyrics and unmemorable melodies we find in much popular music. And, in the case of Jazz and Classical Music, how will it survive when it is dumbed down to the masses? Smooth Jazz and Pops orchestras come to mind.
    In India instrumental classical music has a societal function, for instance. Regelski’s talking about hundreds of years ago in Western music. Is Bach’s passion music diminished when it is heard outside of Easter, and outside of a live performance in a church? (Many would say no, Benjamin Britten would say yes.)

    interestingly this is an area where progressives (Regelski, Britten) can sound like social conservatives (Hindemith, Scruton.)

    This also connects to the ceremonial, spiritual aspects of music, its connection to magic (the evoking of deities/spirits) and its generally complex relationship with organised religion.

    2. Praxis- disagree. It might make "feel good" people but poor musicians. (Paragraph 4)
    Is the function of music education purely to produce musicians? Or does it have other functions as well?

    3. Regelski, paragraph 6 believes in social function of Art vs. Art for Art's Sake--yes, it is social
    yet on many levels of appreciation. Wagner vs. Snoop Dog?
    I doubt it’s either/or.

    Should the standards of conventional score based musicology and analysis be extended to all music? Does musicology have an aesthetic role?

    OTOH do I find Wagner wanting for not containing the rhythmic complexity and nuance of good jazz (or hip hop for that matter)?

    4. Agree with challenging "methodolatry."

    5. Support musical "aesthetes."
    Do you think there is such a think as objectively good music? And I you, do you feel it is possible to demonstrate, via analysis/logic etc why it is great? (If I understand Jordan he says yes to 1, maybe no to 2.)

    Because that’s what I think Regelski means by aesthete.

    (I agree with Kant that this is project is a waste of time.)

    6. Introducing students to "Great Music." Yes, but this is highly objective based on the tastes of
    the teacher. For example, a teacher is a devotee of Atonal/Progressive/Free Form Jazz and he
    inundates a student with HIS concept of great music. However, the talented student despises
    this music and prefers lyrical/melodic Jazz and becomes disenchanted. Or, a teacher who believes the only good music is from the Baroque Period and obsessively teaches Bach,Handel,
    and Telemann while the students heart is in the Romantic Period. So, this is the danger of
    teaching "Great Music" when it falls in the hands of crusaders.
    There is no objective standard. In fact as Bill Evans point out musicians are often too absorbed in the technicalities to really hear music. You have subjective passion.

    That’s OK. If - as I think is easy to demonstrate - the project of aesthetics is a dead end, we need to lose this idea of objective ‘good and bad’ which is not to say it’s meaningless to develop ones tastes and refine ones listening. The fact I’ve heard and played more music than my 17 year old self means my tastes have developed and changed. And that’s of value... for instance I am better at evaluating musical performances in a range of genres.

    what I’ve developed is (hopefully) an educated and emotionally engaged point of view.

    with that in mind is I’d rather have a passionate but doctrinaire teacher than a blandly politically correct one with no opinions. Barry Harris comes to mind. I don’t agree with everything he says, but I respect the passion and justified authority. I’m sure you can think of some.

    People get their noses put so out of joint by BH dunking on Chick Corea or whatever. I wonder why they are so insecure in their own opinions?

    Finally, C, you are in a noble profession that ,in my opinion, has degenerated to a very low point, with few exceptions, because of "Praxis." It serves to dumb down the curriculum as it avoids the meat and potatoes of the subject matter. If I want to learn a 2/5/1 progression in Music, how does anything of social value get involved in the teaching?
    That’s exactly my feeling haha. I mostly enjoy teaching people the guitar. It’s fun, and rewarding. I also like to teach jazz.

    But in the pursuit of becoming a better and better qualified teacher, here I am having to come up with a creative project (another assignment) that drives social change. Anyway, music edus problem is most of its advocates cite things extrinsic to music. And that stuff gets debunked and everyone latches onto the next thing. It’s sad really.

    I think music reflects social change rather than drives it. But I’m open to counter arguments.

    If I am interested in solving a geometric equation, what's the purpose? I once remember a class I had in college in 18th Century English Literature. It was taught by a fine, interesting teacher with great academic credentials and with numerous publications to his name. It was during the Vietnam War and we had massive demonstrations on campus, race riots, and disturbing unrest among the students. So, the University was going to close the Spring semester early to avoid further problems and professors scrambled to salvage their waning classes and create final exams. So, the final exam for my 18th Century English Literature Class was--paint a picture, write a poem, or play a song describing how you feel about the Vietnam War. So, I invited the professor to our dorm for my performance/final exam playing with a pianist friend of mine. I played sax ,at the time, and told my pianist friend to comp on two chords: E and F# and I played the most ridiculous, atonal bullshit I could muster from my horn--screeching, grunting, bizarre, non-sequential riffs. When we finished, the professor(who liked me as a student) said: "I don't know how to grade you since I don't understand this music." I said, that's O.K. . . . just give me an "A" since it has nothing to do with 18th Century English Literature. He smiled and when I received my grades through the mail . . . I got an "A." Praxis??? Not in my world. Good playing . .. lyrically, tonally and with "soul" . . . Marinero
    Well it doesn’t sound like you did a bad job of evoking the war TBH lol.

    besides - you don’t need to feel it yourself. There’s IMO actually nothing wrong with artifice and contrivance in music. The secret is DON’T GET CAUGHT.

    My wife hates Britten because his music is so transparently full of technical devices, and yet still he succeeds in manipulating the emotions.
    Last edited by christianm77; 05-11-2020 at 12:30 PM.

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by pcjazz
    Wheels work. We could do with more of them. In other words, you might compose or improvise a highly musical solo on an established form, using established techniques, and that would be a good thing. No-one should expect you to come up with an entirely new form or method that works until, perhaps, you eventually do so. That would also be a good thing, but of another order. It is an interesting question whether "music education" is a precondition for either or both of these outcomes, and if so what sort of "music education" is required.
    ah it’s a racket. If there were actually gigs it would be unnecessary.

    jazz education in particular has a mission to ‘preserve the music, introduce it students, continue the tradition’ - much like classical*.

    so why do teach it?

    Well because I love it that’s why haha. I have a massive sense of entitlement. Ok mea culpa.

    *perhaps this is why we see jazz theory move away from ‘try this scale for a new sound’ to ‘how do i sound good?’

  23. #22

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    Hi, C,
    Thanks for the interesting and well-honed reply". So, let's go!

    "Is Bach’s passion music diminished when it is heard outside of Easter, and outside of a live performance in a church?" (C)

    No. I do not believe in a utlitarian concept of Art unless ,of course, it's a hand-hewn vase, well-carved smoking pipe or a hand-painted porcelain tea set.

    Is the function of music education purely to produce musicians? Or does it have other functions as well?" (C))

    I am a firm believer in Art for Art's Sake. However, the only way one can achieve ART is to master the elements of music: Technique, Theory, Aesthetics. This can be done formally or in the case of some very gifted genuises/musicians--- intuitively/instinctively ie; Wes Montgomery, Tommy Immaneul, Bireli LaGrene,Joey Alexander, etc. However, for some, Music, as all the Arts, has the ability to profoundly move a human's spirit and provide a respite from the drudgeries of daily living and the unending necessities of Man's survival instinct.

    "
    Do you think there is such a think as objectively good music? And I you, do you feel it is possible to demonstrate, via analysis/logic etc why it is great?" (C)

    Great question. Yes. Let's use an illustrative analogy. Two carpenters build a cottage. The first, has used all the proper building materials, engaged the law of Physics/Architectural standards in its structure, and creates a pleasing visage to the passerby. The second carpenter has used non-standard materials not suited for its construction, has no concept of Physics/Architecture, and the final product is not only unpleasing but broadcasts its shoddy construction to the passerby. Can we make an objective judgment in this case? How would this be different if we judge, say, a Classical Symphony written by Mozart and another written by undergraduate student in Music with average skills/knowledge of Music? And, in the case of Jazz, if we looked at the Jazz solos of say Archie Shepp or Sun Ra(atonal/avante garde) musicians versus say, Dexter Gordon, Charlie Parker, Yusef Lateef, James Moody, could we objectively say that the latter musicians played with a musical concept of structure, harmony, melody versus a "whatever comes to my mind" atonal, without form, logic, reason, and general lack of musicality? And, which music will survive the Ages? And, does it do so because it speaks to the human condition rather than fulfilling some temporary popularity of the times? So, then one might ask: isn't this just personal preference vs. standards of Art. My answer is: no. For one to compare the dumbed-down, hipster doggerel poetry of Rod McKuen to say T.S.Eliot or Robert Frost or the spiritually moving symphonies of Wagner/Beethoven or Mozart to those of Philip Glass' (tripe) or Aaron Copeland's cowboy Music of America's West is patently absurd. It's not a matter of artistic taste, it's a matter of meat and potatoes. If there are no standards of judgment, there can be no greatness. Only what one, irrespective of intelligence, knowledge, craft or art, perceives to be great ie: anyone can be great. This smacks too much of 21st Century "we're all the same" mumbo jumbo egalitarianism. Here, C, I believe we strongly disagree.
    So, for some--myself included, these are important discussions since it impels us to rethink our ideas and to consider the ideas of others. And, of course, these discussions come heavily-weighted with our own prejudices and biases but that does not preclude them as intelligent, serious and hopefully challenging conversations. Thanks for the thoughtful reply. Good playing . . . Marinero







  24. #23

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    There's a lot to unpack here. Definitely agree its a conversation worth having.

    So there's a lot that you that I am sympathetic to, even if I disagree intellectually. Look, I could have at it and pick holes and break down every attempt one can make to frame a coherent aesthetic view because it's always based on this or that assumption and rarely even consistent within these. Even something as simple as using a yardstick. Jazz and classical can't be judged by each other's aesthetic criteria for instance.

    And yet, emotionally I feel it. I think most musicians do?

    I feel culture is an opportunity to unite and identify with something greater, in the case of Bach or something, I feel it has value and that this value is in some way objective. I'm not overly interested in trying to prove this, but I feel that, and not amount of argument or philosophy is going to change that. I think if we worry too much about carrying on that tradition and allow to wither because of worries about some sort of cultural elitism we will be guilty of a great crime.

    But then I feel the same way about jazz.

    And you have to be sensitised to it... so that is where a thing like aesthetics/music appreciation is really worthwhile, but I think musicians get there anyway via exposure. I've heard enough bog standard 18th century music to enjoy Mozart's 41st because of the crazy things he is doing with counterpoint and symphonic form, for instance. The music makes sense from that framework. You have to understand a bit of the context...

    So Music from Mars? No it never is.

    (When music from mars is brought up I think of the Voyager gold disc, an interesting and earnest attempt to represent the world's music to the universe.)

    The language of timelessness of 'what will be remembered and treasured by future generations' is an odd mindset. If anything that's one of the things that damaged 20th century music.

    - 'Your music sounds horrendous!'
    - 'well, it's not for you, but for future generations who will be enlightened enough to understand it'
    - 'what, the ones that will like Taylor Swift?'
    - 'nonsense everyone in the year 2020 will wear bacofoil, consume protein pills and savour Anton Von Webern's klangfarben melodies upon the mood-organ'
    - 'cool, good luck with that'

    It's a melancholy mindset if nothing else.

    So, I advocate wide listening for everybody. The problem is more that kid's exposure to musical culture through the recording industry is very narrow (pop music) but - video games have actually changed a lot of things. Kids hear all sorts of stuff online too.

    Lastly, appreciation of music is very subjective. It has to be. If I like music you hate (and I do) AND you think aesthetically it's possible to prove that it's utter rubbish, then things get entrenched.

    The way I can see to get out of that tangle and not just take this sort of postmodernist cop out that sees all music as somehow equivalent (which I hate as an idea) is to say that people come to educated and developed points of view based on listening and playing music. Not everyone has the same taste, but this taste is more highly developed than someone who hasn't heard a lot of music. Doesn't make you a better person, just more aware of music generally and a more sophisticated listener at the least.

    As educators it then becomes a project to help others develop their aesthetic sense through introducing them to new music and musical ideas. You might aim to be a balanced an impartial guide, or a passionate and partisan advocate. I think either works.

    This is vitally important to the music they make as well, of course. And this is certainly not to my mind 'hey it's all good let it all hang out' mindset at all. It could be very challenging and rigorous for them.

    That said, I really don't systematise my opinions on music anymore. I did do this. Now I just listen to stuff and decide if I like it or not. But I've listened to a LOT of stuff, as have you no doubt.
    Last edited by christianm77; 05-13-2020 at 01:44 PM.

  25. #24

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    " For one to compare the dumbed-down, hipster doggerel poetry of Rod McKuen to say T.S.Eliot or Robert Frost or the spiritually moving symphonies of Wagner/Beethoven or Mozart to those of Philip Glass' (tripe) or Aaron Copeland's cowboy Music of America's West is patently absurd."

    Yet I prefer Glass to Beethoven and can't listen to Wagner at all.

  26. #25

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    I still think of Jazz as a trade, a performance trade. (but I enjoy the discussions)

  27. #26

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    "What do you call a person who loves aesthetic?An aesthete is someone who loves and appreciates works of art and beautiful things." quora.com

    So, yesterday I'm thinking about my conversation with Christian concerning the above topic and the term "aesthete" resurfaces. I think its interpretation is multi-faceted: both descriptive and, in some cases, pejorative. An aesthete is one who loves beauty for beauty's sake or , in its modern, critical sense-- a cultural snob.
    I have always used the word in its original context since the latter interpretation is a very inaccurate twist on what, for me, is a clearly defined term--both historically and culturally.
    Here on JGF, I would assume, we have thousands of professionals, devotees, and students of the Jazz guitar who spend untold hours daily pursuing, for the majority, an illusive, dream:competence/artistry. For most, they will never achieve their goal. Yet, they are heavily invested in quality instruments, amplifiers, books/cds dealing with pedagogy, while for most, they have never played for money or "professionally." However, they continue to pursue this desire/dream because they love beauty/music, they love the visceral process, as they strive for, in a least case scenario--competence and for some-- perfection. Using the above term in its true context, aren't we all aesthetes? Good playing . . . Marinero



  28. #27

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    What's the difference between loving the Music and loving the performance.

    Personally actual teaching is very different from how things should be taught and learning theories.
    When you try and cover Philosophy, Pedagogy and learning Theory as a teacher... your doomed.

  29. #28

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    Yes, R,

    With one caveat: this is true in the early stages. However, once technical competence has been mastered, the only way forward is "Philosophy, Pedagogy and learning Theory"(Reg). This is when a truly good teacher is critical. Otherwise, we have hordes of technicians devoid of a unique voice and just playing the black dots--a criticism I often make about many contemporary Classical guitarists. Good playing . . . Marinero

  30. #29

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    Yes I agree ... it's just most stay in those early stages. It's a little grey as to what mastery is... anyway I left the door open and hoped someone would comment. Thanks. Where I was heading was how we need to work together, it's really difficult to master every aspect of music... anything. And personally when it's too easy, I believe things are missed. Especially with Jazz... The days of playing 6 nights a week gigs... have long been gone. I know there are probable still a few.... but for most.

    So that no voice technicians thing.... I don't know, some just don't have it. I do know that without the technical skill, almost all don't. It's a good discussion... and I'm no expert.

  31. #30

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  32. #31

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    Always interesting but sounds like a little bit of fieldwork among the natives. A lot of the members don't 'speak sociology' and even more don't write it so it will be interesting to see your interpretations. (The ones who do, aren't half as interesting to a researcher). On that point, emic or etic?

  33. #32

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    I suppose the cheesiest but clearest pop culture dramatisation of this debate is ‘Dead Poet’s Society.’

    The old poetry teacher embodies the Enlightenment idea of Aesthetics, Robin Williams Praxis.

  34. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    I suppose the cheesiest but clearest pop culture dramatisation of this debate is ‘Dead Poet’s Society.’

    The old poetry teacher embodies the Enlightenment idea of Aesthetics, Robin Williams Praxis.

    Although, C,
    Praxis IS the application of aesthetic theory. My aesthetic idea of musical performance is for the musician/artist to become "one" with the performance/music where the musician's tools are merely the vehicle for his/her aesthetic taste/ideas. Without aesthetics, the musician is merely a wind-up music box.The two concepts, for me, are inseparable. Good playing . . . Marinero
    Last edited by Marinero; 05-16-2020 at 05:03 PM. Reason: spelling

  35. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marinero
    Although, C,
    Praxis IS the application of aesthetic theory. My aesthetic idea of musical performance is for the musician/artist to become "one" with the performance/music where the musician's tools are merely the vehicle for his/her aesthetic taste/ideas. Without aesthetics, the musician is merely a wind-up music box.The two concepts, for me, are inseparable. Good playing . . . Marinero
    Yeah I think the key distinction that Regelski (and yes I find the distinction problematic) is making is the framing of Aesthetics as a study (for instance in conventional musicology, the analysis of Great Works) as opposed to a more hands on approach (such as composing and improvising music and seeking to understand it by doing it, taking lessons from the masters as you go*). So I think Regelski would probably regard my idea of musical immersion to develop aesthetic sense as a form of praxis.

    Most students of classical music, we should remember, don't have any real experience trying to compose, let alone, improvise music. So in this world, theory is directed towards the analysis of Great Works to see why they are Great (because liking them isn't enough apparently.) This is an outgrowth of JP Rameau's project in the mid 18th century which was influential in the raising of music as an intellectual and not purely practical pursuit. That's why he have both conservatoires and university music degree.

    One criticism of Regelski is that he is effectively erecting straw men in his argument. I don't think that's quite true - I think the issues are systemic. While I do suspect there are dogmatic individuals buried away in music departments somewhere who believe it is possible to substantiate aesthetic value logically as Kant characterised in his quote above, but I haven't really met anyone like that who actually plays and/or teaches music for a living. But music education does tend towards these sorts of entrenched behaviours almost by accident.

    This is endemic in jazz education. Take Jason on the other forum - being told that m7b9 'sounds bad' - that's capital A Aesthetics of the German type right there, and it's in jazz with the language of 'avoid notes' and 'good sounding note choices' so on. Regelski would also perhaps find room to critique things like chord scale approaches to improvisation, which may not have been adequately addressed from the perspective of how effective they are at helping students improvise.

    * if Robert Gjerdingen is to be believed this is actually how the classical greats actually learned.

  36. #35

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    Sometimes, I think it's the buildings themselves... This is where I go for lectures:

    Praxis vs Aesthetics-old-royal-naval-college-old-royal-naval-college-0fce3059f1428e44f083532fcb7739f7-jpg

    The buildings were designed by Christopher Wren and Nicholas Hawksmoor. Nelson lay in state here before his state funeral. Pretty imposing... A lot of music colleges seem to have grandiose architecture.

  37. #36

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    Greenwich? Lucky you. Do you travel by boat?

  38. #37

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    "* if Robert Gjerdingen is to be believed this is actually how the classical greats actually learned." Christian

    Hi, C,
    This may very well be the pedagogy, however, when one listens to Beethoven, Wagner, Brahms, Chopin, and even Bach(who some might call a musical mathematician), these precepts are continually violated for personal tastes/aesthetics outside of traditional music theory. Take, for example, Wagner, who was largely self-taught and a revolutionary force for music ,in his time, who upturned the concept of traditional opera with his brilliant and unconventional use of harmonic structure, thematic approach, instrumentation, and cinematic performances. However, the above quote becomes closer to the truth, in my opinion, when studying Baroque and Early Classical Music. However, once we approach the Middle to Late Classical Period, we encounter composers like Beethoven, Bach, Mendelssohn, and Paganini who don't always follow strict/academic musical convention . . . ergo, their unique music. Good playing . . . Marinero
    Last edited by Marinero; 05-18-2020 at 10:20 AM.

  39. #38

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    I mean ‘classical’ more in the sense of the classical era. Baroque too, the two lead smoothly into each other. 19th century music is beyond the scope of Gjerdingen’s book really, though he does talk about Bel Canto and the Russians.

    but they all composed in a praxis based way of course. The aesthetic theory of ‘why Tristan und Isolde is good’ lags behind somewhat... can anyone agree on what the Tristan chord is exactly in terms of functional harmony to this day?

    Most of those composers were very prolific. Wagner wrote less actual pieces but his operas go on for whole weekends at a time, so... as for the 18th century pros, Gjerdingen points out that we’d be hard pressed to copy music as fast they composed it. That’s not just the Mozarts - that’s all the working composers of the era.

    If anything 18th century music was more ‘aesthetic’ in the sense that much of it was designed to please an aristocratic taste in a rather formulaic way. But they were trained in a hands on manner. Music was a trade back then, like landscape gardening.

  40. #39

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    "...and the Princess and Prince discuss what is real and what is not..." Dylan

    nice thread..I picture it taking place in a dim lit upscale bar..with real red leather booths..aged single malt scotch and where your still allowed to smoke pipes/cigars..

    during the renaissance of the 60's...millions were sure music was the propulsion of the revolution that was just a demonistration away..

    anyone who could learn 3 chords on any instrument and could play several songs of the day were considered ascendent royality of the day..the true kings entourage
    were on the radio and in record stores..and playing live in clubs and concerts and some even on late night TV..

    it was a simple world back then..the good guys wore white hats..

    So I had a simple plan and explained it to Tom Miller..a spiritual friend and partner in crime..as we connected musically on guitar..

    We went to see Larry Coryell at a club called Slugs..on the lower east side of NY near the Village..the club was named correctly..
    the area at that time was .. in plain launguage..dame scarey..(now of course its very nice..with way overpriced rents and lots of cafes)

    So we sat in the first row..and Coryell was sitting on stage by himself..looking at a point beyond the chairs facing him..he held a Gibson 400
    the other members of his group joined him..and for an hour or so we witnessed a new music form being born..
    it wasent stagnant jazz or free form choas..but explosive fury with percision and purpose..and Coryell was amazing all the guitar players who
    may have went home that night and burned their guitars..he punched Clapton lickes in the midst of a blurring scale run that gave way to colliding chord structures
    that have not been heard before on guitar..at least not at that volumn

    See Tom..I said..its like Rock and Jazz in an high speed car crash..!..little did I know..

    several years later..I went to the Whiskey a Go GO in los angeles..to see..the mahavishnu orchestra..
    now the club was not big..perhaps 300 seating at most..I cant describe how this music effected me..what I knew was .. I didnt know..

    so on overview to the above...how/what/where/when can someone absorbe and learn how to create/play/perform a new style of music with the confidence and authority of a Coryell /MO..

    so where indeed does one begin...books..school...teachers..so much to learn..whats important/necessary..how long will it all take to learn stuff like that

    and the journey began and continued...much like the Karate Kid .. I was waxing cars and painting fences and had no idea what they had to do with playing like Coryell/McLaughlin

    OK so I learned all the formal theory/harmony stuff and played the Book..and every now and then..wait.. I would play a line that not only sounded like but felt like the CarCrash...ohhh boy..

    today...so does my music promote any social change..do I want it too..and do I care if it does or not...
    well..not really..Im not in charge of how someone will react to my playing..but should it in some way guide them to study music or play an instrument ..thats cool..

    I find it a bit strange...Bach and Co..todays players..even the DeathCore Metal guys have heard Bach and who may even know a few licks of his
    but some of the same players may not know Coryell or Pat Metheny .. is this their music education..the media is sliced very thin for Classical as it is for Jazz
    so some way Bach & Co prevailed over time and the comtempory players are overlooked..considered not important..yet their music has social impact..does it not..as much as
    their Classical counterparts?? ..

    Now some feel the desire to develop a more spiritual outlook..they study yoga..zen and such..they read about great gurus and masters..they want to know more
    and finally they find someone they can relate to..someone that understands their yearning..someone that can show them a way to live a happier life...
    and the ask this guru...to teach them the way..they say they will study and do whatever it takes..and the guru says OK...

    now they envision being part of a spiritual community..living in an ashram..meditating and chanting..so they go before the master for their first "lesson"

    the master says..."sit...now breath"
    Last edited by wolflen; 05-19-2020 at 03:21 PM.

  41. #40

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    Well I'll tell you this - we know a lot more about classical music than they know about us... It's a total bubble.

    And a lot of my lectures revolve around 'ooh classical music education is so bad and unimaginative' and I feel like screaming at them. They're so profoundly self involved. But they are LEARNING. And that's good.

    As a guitar teacher I have to teach EVERYTHING. I love it.

    So, I guess I'm of a generation that was starting to forget these players a bit. As far as Coryell? Never listened to him really. I heard a couple of things and thought he sounded great. That's it. I played with a drummer who was crazy about him, but she loved all of those 70s West Coast people; Gadd is her idol.

    But that thing wasn't my area of interest, I guess. So it's possible to be quite ignorant of it. If I was more into fusion as a player, I'm sure Coryell would have come up... I didn't listen to Jeff Beck until about 10 years ago. I think I just liked what I liked... If the music sounded good to me I liked it. A lot of jazz rock sounded kind of corny to me; I'd rather have listened to Jimi.

    Metheny, obvious touch stone for modern jazz... I know people seem to think there's no connection, but the modern jazz guitar movement would not exist without him. He changed everything, the evolution of Jim Hall into a more legato style of jazz guitar. So I teach him even though I don't regard him as a massive direct influence.

    I think now kids get started with Kurt. It's fine. But you have to let them follow the chains of influence back.