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Lilt: a theory of melody

A melody has to catch the ear. A lilt is an up and down movement that has to be asymmetrical or surprising in some way. It can go up, and ...

Monday, November 17, 2014

Dream-meditation of Coleman Hawkins' "Picasso"

This is not a dream. Meditative states are not dream-like, though they might be interesting because they are not simply normal wakefulness either.

Listen to "Picasso" with your eyes closed. Put it on a loop so you can listen to it two or three times. Observe your own breathing as you do so. Don't try to do anything special with your breath, just watch it. The music, an unaccompanied tenor sax solo in rubato, is constantly creating and releasing tension. Notice how the tension in the music might increase at a moment when you would have otherwise been feeling particularly relaxed. The music might create anxiety in you. Or you might be feeling anxiety at a moment when the music seems to be diffusing tension. Get used to this disparity between the music and your breathing. There is a particular phrase that occurs at 1:21 that I have named "settling in." It is very confident and masterful. There are other phrases that mean "pay attention" or "this is the emotional climax of the piece thus far" or "I am winding down now" or "this is an interesting tangent in my argument you might also want to consider." You don't have to adjust your own mood to these moments. You will feel and recognize them. After you have finished this meditation, write this poem.

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