Tweaking

I have been busy tweaking and working out the kinks in how to actually publish my books for editing here under the Books tab. I think I am very close to having a workable process. All I need now is for input from you out there the pre-reader/editors.

Remember, my plan is that this will not take a great deal of time out of your week. I am spreading this out by publishing only a couple of chapters a week. At the back end, I’m making some final edits, but will also be working hard to incorporate your inputs as we go.

I’ll have more work when it comes to Book Two which I split from the original main book. I am still not settled on the title and I’ll get to working that out an make suggestions for you to provide input on.

Editing and publishing a book on a WordPress website—what else is there to do during a pandemic?

Life As Jazz – Part 3

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Part 3 of 3

We have all watched children play; we were children once ourselves. They can make up games and modify them as needed. They can find satisfaction and fun is the simplest of things to use as toys. There are many aspects of what children are like that we might choose to borrow. We might want to become child-like. Not childish, of course. Could it be that children are in touch with their jazz-like characteristics and humanness?

Children are spontaneous and inventive. They are creative and innovative. Children are free in the ways they act and behave. Also, they seem to be more in touch and directed by their feelings and emotions. Isn’t how children live very similar to what I have described as jazz? That is until we adults get in the way. Sit down a play with a child and see what they find fun. Try to learn how they are creative. See how simple their enjoyment can be.

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Why is child-likeness so similar to jazz? Children are very spiritual. Their spirits are undamaged by the world of adults and technology. They can be free to explore and let their spirits lead them in various directions that adults might not think of. Being less encumbered with the complex things of an adult world might free us to be child-like and spiritual in nature. It could be a way to begin to discover how to live a more jazz-like life.

We human beings have three parts to us. We have a mind and we have a body. We also have a spirit. Every cultural group of human beings, either present or past, has had some sort of belief or understanding that we have a spirit. Our mind is usually considered to be the most important part of us humans. The brain is just a very fancy computer. Scientists are now looking at building artificial brains that can learn. They also talk about backing up the human brain to the cloud in the same way one might back up their computer hard drive. Now there is the real meaning of having your head in the clouds. Maybe the image of a little cloud graphic symbolizing a thought is sort of prophetic.

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We often talk about our heart as a place where our feelings and emotions originate. One that special day of love, considered one of the strongest human emotions, Valentines Day, hearts are sent around. Love is represented by a heart shape. Where do these ideas come from? Love is one of the most discussed topics in our cultures, yet we can barely explain it. Love and our other feelings and emotions are attached to our spirit. What the heart does is pump blood to every part of our body—even our brain. Perhaps our spirit is part of our blood. Our life is in our blood.

Even if there was a smart computer that was like an artificial brain, it would never be able to be human, not even with an artificial body of some form of flesh. The human spirit will always make reproducing human thoughts, emotions and feeling impossible. Our spirit is where our jazz originates. Since we human beings are nowhere near any sort of agreement as to what our spirit is, finding a way to reproduce it is probably impossible. Some people might argue that there is no such thing as the human spirit. Let them explain feelings and emotions—how about love.

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Even if an artificial reproduction of the human mind were to someday be produced. Human beings would be able to tell rather quickly that it was not human. It would be slightly different. Even if it were so accurate that the differences were nearly undetectable, or nearly indiscernible, a human would eventually know. Humans do have a spiritual dimension that is extremely deep and complex. If it indeed does exist in our blood, then jazz flows throughout our entire body.

Why is it important to learn to live a jazz lifestyle? Because it can help us be more human. We need to increase the distance between us and our technology. We want to ensure that whatever technology we allow into our lives and the way we decide to use it, we use it to make us be more human. To understand what it means for us to be more human, we need to strip away the dehumanizing aspects of our lives to find what is simple and liberating freedom; to not be slaves of technology. We can learn to be child-like and spiritual in nature. We want our technology to be ‘our’ technology. We do not want it to replace us, unless it allows us to be less dehumanized and more humanized. It is a journey into jazz leading to a life of being human and living in a world of technology—the Technojungle.

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Be sure to read The Jazz Lifestyle.

B Sig

Let’s think about it!

© 2015 by Bob Grahame
Please do not reproduce this article, or any part, in any manner, without my permission. Thank you!

Life As Jazz – Part 2

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Part 2 of 3

To the foundations of beat and chords, including harmony, we can now look at melody. Sometimes we use a tune or song to refer to the melody of music. Melody is a musical idea that is developed to lead the music somewhere; to say something and perhaps convey a message, emotions or feelings. The beat and chords support these. The melody is often a poem set to music. A person who composes the song, tune, melody may begin with words and set them to music, or they may begin with music and compose words to fit the music. Often it can be a combination of both.

What then happens with jazz? Jazz is about taking the components of beat, chords/harmony and melody and using them as a starting point to creatively develop something new and spontaneous. In jazz there is the opportunity for participants to individually do this as a solo while fully supported by all the other participants. All the other participants, not only back up and support the individual creative process, they must listen and work together in what could be said as a true democratic process. They draw from the soloist and others to build and construct a performance that is inspired, innovative and improvised. This is the foundation of a jazz performance. It is improvised based on the music and how each musician feels at the moment. Therefore, no two performances of a piece of music are the same.

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This is jazz music in a nutshell. Jazz music has developed over time to be simple or complex or both at the same time. There are many styles of jazz music and some has been written and arranged, although many may argue that you simply can’t write down real jazz. Some written music captures some of the feel of jazz music and allows for a large group of musicians to have a framework to play together and still allow for individual expression of creativity, emotions, feelings through improvisation of solos.

How can we take the essence of jazz music and apply it to living our daily lives? In some ways, it may seem as if many of us already do this, that this is just how life is. I would say that this is how life is meant to be, however it can be robbed from us. If our lives are sort of jazz-like in that we are always taking the framework of our constructed life and improvising as we live, how are we robbed of our jazz and what can we do to protect and live a more jazz-like lifestyle?

If we each take a close look at our daily life, we can see that it comprises the structure needed to function as a group in society and should allow for times of free creative expression through innovation and inspiration. Perhaps we even get to solo. The more we have times of jazz, the more human we feel. If our life becomes too constricted, or we become overwhelmed by aspects of our lives, we feel less human. We can become dehumanized.

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As with jazz music, we need both the structure, the composed music that brings people together, and we need the opportunity for jazz expression. It must be balanced. If there is too much structure, there is no freedom. If there is too much freedom, it becomes difficult for people to be together in harmony. How much structure and composition and how much jazz freedom is right depends on each person and each situation. We need to be on the lookout for that which may be robbing us of our jazz.

Finding ways to ensure we have the right balance of composition and jazz means we need to pay attention and take our solos when the opportunity arises. We must listen to each other and agree with them in harmony. We need to follow the beat and make contributions as we find our space. Perhaps we can regularly ask ourselves, ‘Am I living my jazz?’

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Be sure to read The Jazz Lifestyle.

B Sig

Let’s think about it!

© 2015 by Bob Grahame
Please do not reproduce this article, or any part, in any manner, without my permission. Thank you!

Life As Jazz – Part 1

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Part 1 of 3

The beginnings of jazz go back to the tribal beats from black African and West Indies slaves. Can we say that these people were savages? Or did they have a society that was simply different from the European-based societies of those who took them and made them slaves. It can seem now that making slaves out of fellow humans is actually savage.

Can we assume that these people were living civilized lives in places that might have included wild jungles. Could we learn from going back before slavery in Europe and America? Perhaps the perception of wild and savage black jungle dwelling people needs to be unpacked and demystified.

I have to admit that I don’t know enough about this. It is not part of the history books. Why would it, since showing that the people who were taken to be slaves actually had a civilized society in what might seem a wild environment compared to the cities of Europe and America?

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If this is true, then we can see a cycle of humans being uncivilized, becoming civilized and then de-civilized once again and then a re-civilizing. The white people who took slaves were part of a civilization that once had to conquer an uncivilized world of some sort. In taking other human beings, dehumanizing them by saying that being black and from a different ‘uncivilized’ part of the world, makes them savage and less than human, is actually a de-civilizing approach to life. It is not civil to dehumanize. Slavery dehumanizes.

Could this idea of cycling from uncivilized to civilized to de-civilized and then re-civilizing be common in other parts of human history? It would be worth exploring this.

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Where does jazz music fit into the picture? Jazz music emerged from the black slaves of America. Why did it not also emerge from the slaves in Europe? Could it be that the Europeans already had a musical and artistic tradition that had developed over centuries? America was young and the arts could reflect the lack of tradition and find something new. There were many flavours of art pouring into the new societies of America. They came from many parts of Europe and other parts of the world. For the black people who were being brought into the new American societies, it was a world where many forms of music from other places in the world, mostly Europe, could be melted together—including their own.

Perhaps it was the musical foundation of the beats that formed the basis of the new music that would eventually become jazz. The beats of the music of the black people had once civilized and humanized these people to live in what would seem to city people as wild jungles. Even today, African music has a harmonic togetherness and a swing that is uplifting to the soul.

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Notice the word ‘harmonic’ or ‘harmony.’ If the beats introduced by the black people were a foundation, harmony was another aspect they also brought to American music. A truly human civilization means living in harmony with each other and the environment. Harmony is produced when more than one note sounds at the same time, yet are harmonically related and form the basis of chords.

Chord: Middle English cord, from accord. The spelling change in the 18th century was due to confusion with chord. The original sense was ‘agreement, reconciliation,’ later ‘a musical concord or harmonious sound’; the current sense dates from the mid 18th century.

Harmony and agreement are very humanizing. They bring peace. This sounds very civil. We often hear someone say that we need to live in ‘peace and harmony.’ We are in agreement with each other, we are in ‘one accord.’

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Be sure to read The Jazz Lifestyle.

B Sig

Let’s think about it!

© 2015 by Bob Grahame
Please do not reproduce this article, or any part, in any manner, without my permission. Thank you!