Archives for August 2014

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MUSINGS IN Cb: Perhaps We Have Reached a Creative Tipping Point

Hope this comes across in the positive context that it is meant

I am always very impressed with the *commitment* it takes for a 14 year old to do most anything at a high level. I applaud this young player in the video. He has put in lots of time on his instrument and that is great.  He has put in lots of time on this transcribed solo and that is great too. I am impressed in context. 

But, let’s not get it twisted into something it is not …

Caution. I have come to a different place with things like this demonstration, and am not sure that memorizing Bird’s solos as if they were classical etudes, is necessarily a “good” thing for any musician or artist to do lots of.

Memorizing other people’s music like this inherently results in a break down of developing an original musical intellect – at least, if the goal is to truly improvise and not regurgitate something memorized.

Improvisation is truly difficult, that’s why most people don’t do it – you have to know form and you literally have to know how to compose.  

Most musicians play things that they have practiced and memorized, then pass it along to listeners as if it is improvised. I used to do that too.

Most musicians I know hated theory class and that is what an improviser needs to master in addition to pushing buttons …

“You’ve got to learn your instrument. Then, you practice, practice, practice. And then, when you finally get up there on the bandstand, forget all that and just wail." Charlie Parker

Access to so much information and material results in these types of things. Not a good or bad thing. Just another contemporary paradigm. Perhaps we have reached a creative tipping point that will result in people actually going back to basics and simply creating again …

I always insist upon teaching my students to play the saxophone, first. Then, we cover lots of the harmony and theory behind the music they are preparing or learning about. This process is relatively long and arduous, if an attempt is to compare it with learning and reproducing someone else’s notes.  

However, when we are learning to improvise the key is to IMPROVISE!

Peace, Cb

Christopher L. Burnett

Selmer (Paris) Saxophone Artist; Marketing and Communications Manager at American Jazz Museum; Professional Jazz Recording Artist; Composer; Educator; Entrepreneur; and, Businessman