Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Non Change

listening to 88.1 KKJZ
I heard a cover of Leon Russell's
also covered by George Benson;
an album my dad had when I was a kid;
an album that was played a lot in our house
for some reason.
So I was familiar, very familiar
with the chord progression
It's one of those songs that is just in me.
I heard the sax player go through the melody
simply and recognizably
and after he had done that a couple of rounds,
you can hear the shift take place
where the storm comes
And it immediately made me think of Job
what prompts him to say in Job 10:17
"Your forces come upon me wave upon wave"
Rilke said it in his poem "THE MAN WATCHING"

The Man Watching
by Rainer Maria Rilke
I can tell by the way the trees beat, after
so many dull days, on my worried windowpanes
that a storm is coming,
and I hear the far-off fields say things
I can't bear without a friend,
I can't love without a sister
The storm, the shifter of shapes, drives on
across the woods and across time,
and the world looks as if it had no age:
the landscape like a line in the psalm book,
is seriousness and weight and eternity.
What we choose to fight is so tiny!
What fights us is so great!
If only we would let ourselves be dominated
as things do by some immense storm,
we would become strong too, and not need names.
When we win it's with small things,
and the triumph itself makes us small.
What is extraordinary and eternal
does not want to be bent by us.
I mean the Angel who appeared
to the wrestlers of the Old Testament:
when the wrestler's sinews
grew long like metal strings,
he felt them under his fingers
like chords of deep music.
Whoever was beaten by this Angel
(who often simply declined the fight)
went away proud and strengthened
and great from that harsh hand,
that kneaded him as if to change his shape.
Winning does not tempt that man.
This is how he grows: by being defeated, decisively,
by constantly greater beings.

Job got boils all over his body, lost his
possessions, and his children and his animals etc.
But through and because of his trials
there is a part of him that is unaffected,
an anchorage beyond the storm
a place of silence beyond the elements
and the layers of the mind
and he reaches the mindset of peace
anchored in his Higher God Self alone
in Job 40:13
"When the river rages, he is not alarmed"
and that right there is the true guts and origin of jazz
the chord progression being that place of anchorage
and then the improvisation on top the will of GOD
literally jazz mirrors the structure of life
the archetypal structure of the myth
the beginning the middle the end
and it got me thinking about how powerful
music theory is
how powerful it is to be able to feel where the music
is going no matter what is happening
I know this SONG
I know myself
I know this SONG of MYSELF
I know my purpose and where I am headed
and even if Ornette Coleman blasts an avalanche of atonal wizardry
the intelligence of silence
of trust in the invisible structure of music
is guiding the ship.
But then busting out of that anchorage
that necessity of a predetermined structure
or a predetermined melody
moving into the realms of free jazz
where the structure is spontaneous
where Brahman becomes the charioteer of all action
where telepathy fosters the radiance of self sufficiency
like Merce Cunningham and John Cage
collaborating in a state of sheer independence
navigating the storms and flows and harmonizations
while feeling the non-change as the temple and anchorage
like pouring water
into the dark soil of a plant
and seeing the leaves become greener
this is the life of jazz, eternal
based in the trees and soil
in the interaction of the elements
in the divine play of the universe
in ecstasy of its own entropy
dancing with the realm of perfect forms
in the collective abstract
all the way down to the void
that is the nectar
in our hearts
the empty room with no walls
and the best acoustics.

How to Sit

God won't give you more than you can handle
and He won't give you any less.

Let go or get dragged

So fully imprisoned we are in the moment
that I believe if you let go deeply enough,
if you become like water and find a true horizontal
within your mind, that even turning on the faucet
would invoke a feeling of religious rapture.

This is the state of mind that needs to be cultivated
in the listening to, practice and performance of music.

Just sitting behind your drum set, just holding your instrument
should be enough. Anything more than that; tidal waves of bliss.


Reading John Cage's "Silence"

He is talking about giving up music
for the entire field of sound.

That is the future.
Minimal. Maximal.

Everything is an instrument
every sound can be organized into music.

Everyone is a musician.
buy a stethoscope and dance!

Putting the Baby to Bed

Recently i had a long conversation with drummer and percussionist Stephen Taylor Hodges who has played with the likes of Mavis Staples, John Hammond, Smashing Pumpkins, Tom Waits.

One of the first things he said about playing the drums was "how hard would you pat your baby?"

This resonated with me immediately because as a drummer and a father I have realized that volume has a limit. In fact this conversation opened my eyes to what I already believed, that the drums should invoke silence, that the dynamics of the trees should be the reference point, the swaying of the ocean, the aura of the moon of the snare drum has ancient power at the level of the whisper.

It's not so much a negation of volume, but an embrace of the full dynamic range holding close to the center as the silent hub of the wheel and from there exploring the lightning of the storm and the violence of ecstasy always returning to the whisper of the leaves and the black sky.

It has completely transformed my practice routine. Right now I am going through stick control for R i hit the bass drum soft for L i use a brush on the snare and in my right hand I am using an egg. Mr. Hodges said that using shakers is a very powerful way to bring you back to your center. Also playing at this volume allows you to use a metronome without headphones which is amazing.

I had an amazing experience tonight. My drum set is in the living room now because I am playing at a volume like a quiet radio. My son's room is right next to my drum set and while my wife was putting him to bed I continued playing dropping my volume to the quietest possible. Barely audible, my kick with the synthetic lambs wool beater sounded like far off thunder, and on the snare with the snares off I used a Native American drum beater. I felt like I was in a dream playing this music that could facilitate the transition from waking to sleeping. It was shamanic, primal, mystical, and grounded in the dynamics of nature. So I have decided to dedicate a blog to my experiences along this path so clearly illumined by Mr. Hodges. .