Sunday, July 13, 2008

Science Near and Dear to the Musician

Outside of my last, rather silly post, done in about 2 minutes—I’m not making excuses. Well, actually I am, here’s something more serious, elaborating on the theme of playing music from the heart. Here are two recent scientific findings that I think are relevant to jazz musicians, findings about marijuana and about keeping time:

1. Your skin produces a natural form of marijuana. This is from Live Science, July 11, 2008.
2. Your mind controls time, not just the counting of it, but moving both forward and backward in time. This is from Discover Magazine, July 12, 2008.

The first finding states that our skin produces quite a few psychoactive substances, that is, we don’t just think with our minds, we think will our whole body. We don’t have a mind and a body, but rather we have a Mindbody. No news there, other than science is just getting around to finding what we’ve known for a long time. The problem, of course, is that the way we organize knowledge is like a key that only fits in certain locks. The traditional western style of forming knowledge is tailored to fit into the mind only, and that means that musically, we are not unlocking the power of the rest of our being, the skin, the heart. And of course, as we think about jazz, about jazz music in such cerebral terms, the feeling is lost, since we’ve ignored the part of our being, the skin, that literally does both thinking and feeling. The way out of this problem, which has more than a little effect on our pocketbooks, is to reformulate how we think of music, how we teach music, so that every bit of our being is engaged. There’s no one way to do this, rather every musician will have to find their way. After all, we each found our own way to erect the barriers to our hearts, only we can unlock the steel doors.

The second finding is interesting, again it’s something of which we are already aware, but taken with the first finding—it simply means that we can control, create, different feelings with music—and if we can create feelings that are healthy, this will be much better than playing empty mind music. Feelings of joy, love, even pain and sadness would fall into the category of real entertainment—not art. Art has become a cerebral activity, the thing that only the mind can appreciate. However, if we’re not turning on the skin, then what we’re playing is a real turn off. And the public, which used to adore jazz, will accordingly, has been accordingly, turned off.

No comments: