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On the Anniversary of Coltrane’s Death

July 17, 2013 Leave a comment

First a self-referential shout-out:

Dancing about Architecture

John, I wish I could tell you I understand
what happened when you played
either spiritually or technically
I know just enough to see the promised land
but may not enter.

Categories: Debugging Tags: , ,

Dancing about Architecture

May 6, 2012 9 comments

Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.”

– Martin Mull(?)

At first, we’re told, guttural cries
were what passed for expression.
Passed
is not the right word, but professional
critics often rule out categories, deny
expression after the fact, and have tried,
from Mozart to Schoenberg, to call attention
to the various sins against form, the tension
between the old skins and new wine.

Schoenberg, for his part, had no use
for laws that came after the fact,
said they burst under special kinds
of tests — exceptions which make us loosen
rules disprove their need. He backed
off to be free of a tonal bind.

He backed off to be free of a tonal bind
of his own making — tired of being
a test case poster child, perhaps,
or just to hear an audience
understand again. Now we do
dance about architecture, expanding
criticism to throw the rope around the free form
and strangle it.

The jazz cats
cut class when they passed
out theory blue books. Nuts
to the squares who have to sit
with a slide rule and figure out
Coltrane blowed a G#13
or whatever
just to know, just to get back
to the guttural cry, to every
birth
death
resurrection
there
is.

Originally written in the ’90s, and I’ve been tinkering with it ever since.