Henry Threadgill on learning about the past but not getting stuck there...

Discussion in 'Tab & Music Forum' started by montemerrick, Feb 20, 2021.

  1. montemerrick

    montemerrick no earthly reason why

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    "HS: Along those lines, do you support the teaching of traditional jazz in schools?

    HT: Of course. Yes, to a degree. I don't support the idea of people wasting a lot of time learning to play what somebody else played and get that into their system, and then they can't get it out. You need to understand what somebody else did, just to understand the history of what you're involved in. It's the history of anything, the history of writing, the history of engineering, the history of science. You need to understand what happened in this period, so you can understand how you move to the second period. You look at painting and frescoes and you see where perspective came in and where infinity came in. You need to understand these kinds of things in terms of a progression, but if you get stuck in one of these periods by trying to execute and get misled into thinking that you're actually creating in that style and period, I think you're kind of, like, misleading yourself. I don't really believe it's possible to do it, to play legitimate music from another period, because music is tied into social situations too. Social, emotional reality, and psychological reality is all connected culturally to any art form, and you can't jump back and place yourself—It's not like some kind of time capsule where you can go back and be in that cultural moment, which underscores social, psychological, emotional reality. Yes, you can learn on the surface how these things were, but I think it's a waste of time, a waste of a person who's trying to become an artist's time.

    I remember when I was a kid and you used to have music lessons and there was that saying "Practice makes perfect." Practice does not make perfect; practice makes permanent. You can practice the wrong way, it's permanent; you can practice the half-right way, the wrong way, the good way. All of it makes permanent; it does not make perfect. So you get all these musical ideas in your head and in your muscles. See, and things get into your muscle intelligence—it's not just on the physical muscles, but it's like a brain intelligence in your muscles too, that they tend to act on their own sometimes. They do what they have been trained to do, right? They've been trained to coordinate and move a certain way, so you end up in a struggle between what you wanna do in your mind and what you've already been practicing in learning how to play a particular type of music, you know.

    So, back to that question, still: Yes, I support the idea, like people should learn everything they can about—I think they spend too much time worrying about jazz. I think that's a very bad mistake. I don't think they really need to teach jazz; I think they need to teach music. I think that the more serious problem is teaching jazz, 'cause they made it small; they pinholed it, made it very small and they qualified what they think jazz is. They don't teach anything about what I do. They don't teach anything about what Cecil Taylor does. So what are they teaching? So they've excluded so many people in the educational process, so what does that say about teaching this? See, if you're gonna teach Bach, you have to teach Wagner. If you're gonna teach Wagner, you have to teach Schoenberg. If you teach Schoenberg, then you're gonna have to teach Stravinsky or anybody else, or Varèse or anybody else. You can't exclude. In these jazz programs, they exclude. So what is a student gonna learn? A student is being fashioned and molded a certain way, rather than be exposed to what's the entire musical palette in so-called improvised music. And I don't really like the word jazz; I prefer creative improvised music, because there's confusion about what jazz means now. I think it's lost its meaning, and I don't think it's relevant anymore, that word, because there's too much confusion. I mean I just ordered a macchiato and she knew exactly what to bring me, you know. There's a basketball team named Jazz, perfume named jazz, festival named jazz—there's not one person on there that's improvising; everybody's a pop group or a rock group or some kind of quasi-something group, you know I'm saying? It's just too much confusion, and then people make films, documentaries, Ken Burns for one. He and the people that were his consultants, they give a picture of what they say jazz is and then exclude generations of people, whole schools and generations of people are excluded from it, and it's played nationally and internationally, and it's giving a idea of what jazz is. So that's why I say that word has really lost its meaning, you know."

    read the entire excellent interview here.

    https://www.thewire.co.uk/in-writing/interviews/henry-threadgill-unedited
     
  2. StummerJoe

    StummerJoe Senior Stratmaster

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    I agree. Always thought it was silly to learn a jazz cover note for note. Kind of defeats the form.
     
  3. nungesser

    nungesser crash into your windshield of love

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    I took my drummer buddy with me to see Henry Threadgill live it blew his mind
     
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  4. montemerrick

    montemerrick no earthly reason why

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    sure, i mean he does say that learning what comes before us is as important in improvisational music as any other discipline, and i think his point about getting stuck somewhere that's inauthentic could easily extend to improvisational rock and roll playing as well... if you play music (or paint, or build shaker tables) of a time that's gone, you are kidding yourself if you're thinking that you are adding to that music's (or school of art's, or craft's) lexicon - that the era is past and the zeitgeist of the era was a critical component in that music's relevance and authenticity. Still, investigating the fingerings and techniques of Miles Davis does teach about things you can do on a trumpet - especially if you havent improvised on a trumpet before...
     
  5. StummerJoe

    StummerJoe Senior Stratmaster

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    Respect and know the past to build the future.:thumb:
     
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  6. fezz parka

    fezz parka fezz parka

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  7. montemerrick

    montemerrick no earthly reason why

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    that's awesome. so simple, yet so hard to communicate it - Mr Corea does a great job...

    Joan Didion used to copy out Hemingway stories so she could experience how sentences like his felt to type.

    I used to copy emily dickinson poems into a notebook... still do sometimes.

    and of course musically, i do what i can to follow the same course...
     
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  8. montemerrick

    montemerrick no earthly reason why

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    for context:

     
  9. fezz parka

    fezz parka fezz parka

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    Internalize...then send it back out.
     
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  10. montemerrick

    montemerrick no earthly reason why

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    HT from 93

     
  11. montemerrick

    montemerrick no earthly reason why

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    unshaped output, its the rare artist that can pull that off... and if they do, they still have to do what thoreau says


    “In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness. If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” – Henry David Thoreau, Walden
     
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  12. heltershelton

    heltershelton BANNED Silver Member

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    “Man, the living creature, the creating individual, is always more important than any established style or system.”

    “Many people dedicate their lives to actualizing a concept of what they should be like, rather than actualizing themselves. This difference between self-actualization and self-image actualization is very important. Most people live only for their image.”

    “When one has reached maturity in the art, one will have a formless form. It is like ice dissolving in water. When one has no form, one can be all forms; when one has no style, he can fit in with any style.”

    “Because one does not want to be disturbed, to be made uncertain, he establishes a pattern of conduct, of thought, a pattern of relationship to man etc. Then he becomes a slave to the pattern and takes the pattern to be the real thing.”

    "Before I learned the art, a punch was just a punch, and a kick, just a kick.
    After I learned the art, a punch was no longer a punch, a kick, no longer a kick.
    Now that I understand the art, a punch is just a punch and a kick is just a kick."

    ------BRUCE LEE
     
  13. fezz parka

    fezz parka fezz parka

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    Bingo. :D
     
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  14. Baelzebub

    Baelzebub Most Honored Senior Member

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    and learn from it. otherwise it IS your future.
     
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  15. thebowl

    thebowl Strat-Talker

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    I feel that I haven’t learned a riff until I am able to mess around with it and be pleased with the results.