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Anxious gatekeeping

Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Recovery

I played a wrong chord on my recording, in one the better takes so I had to use it. What I did was to play another chord right after, making it seem like the wrong chord was an intentional dissonance that led to a resolution. The trick is to make even wrong notes seem appropriate in their context. Similarly, a hesitation before a chord, I prefer to see as Monk-like, even though it was actually the result of my inability to remember what the chord was supposed to be.

I also find that my playing does not swing. In fact, I don't hear most of my songs, even in my own head as I imagine others might play them, as swinging. That might be too bad, because I like swing in music I listen to, but I don't really want to force the issue either. I have rhythmic patterns in my head that are simply not those. You will notice in Monk's playing that he doesn't use the same bebop rhythms as Bud Powell, or the countless Bud Powell knock-offs. Each player, whether Oscar Peterson or Monk, or Powell, or Evans, has a kind of template for how they are hearing and producing rhythms. When you hear someone say that a musician does not swing, it could be that they are like me (incompetent) or else maybe they do swing, but in a way different from the template you associate with swing. For example, one jazz critic was driven crazy by Peterson's rhythmic conception. Many think Bill Evans couldn't swing, although they are obviously wrong. Swing is not the most evident quality of Duke Ellington's piano playing for that matter.

Monk had several rhythmic conceptions. For example, a deadpan, singsong stride imitation that he would use to play "Lulu's Back in Town" or "Sweet and Lovely." A hesitating, halting, vacillating style that I hated the first time I heard, that he would use in solo work especially on his own tunes and slower ballads. And a bebop style.

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