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!

Write a book in an hour a day

I am pleased to announce that my first book in this Technojungle Project—The Future Never Arrives… at least not as expected and it always brings baggage—is now in the editing stage. I can’t say with any confidence how long this might take, however, some more rough chapters will be released here on this blog. Stay tuned.

It began as a pretty simple project. I had articles I had written here that seem as if they could be part of a book. So I embarked on the mission of writing a book taking material I had written and building on it. As I got into it, I found that it is a deep sea of technological change out there. It was not long until my book about the Technojungle was looking like a jungle itself.

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I refocused a couple of months ago and decided that some material could be left for a second book, should the first one ever get finished, published and become somewhat successful. I also began a program I now call, ‘write a book in an hour a day.’ It is true. I never moved my book along more efficiently than after I just worked at it for an hour a day.

What does that mean? It is exactly what I am doing now to write this post. I sit down at my computer and type for no less and usually not much more than one hour. No, that does not include research or editing. It means writing. I found I could bang out, when slow, 750 words, and at the most, about 1,400 words. Usually, I can do 1,000 words in one hour.

I do this four times a week and can usually count on a minimum of about 3,500 words. That is around 10 pages. I can get 10 pages of rough text per week. When I discovered this little secret, I realized that a book could be written in less than half a year.

There is more to writing a book though. I have some other activities that I do. As I go about my days, I dictate notes into my iPhone. I also meet once a week with a coach and we discuss ideas, which I record. Then I sit down and transcribe all the recorded notes. This is actually the most time consuming activity. I would like to shorten this process, however, I realize that I have a lot of notes I can draw from in the future. Doing this also probably means that, when I do sit down to write, I not only have somethings to write about, but I am writing about some things I know about. I have thought things through and chewed on them for a while.

So, it does take more than an hour a day. But, it is easy to accumulate information. This is part of what my book is about. We have become very good at creating and accumulating information. This is not what make a book. A book is about taking the accumulation of information and telling a story that other people will find interesting. Hopefully, it will affect, even change their life in some way.

So, when I say that you can write a book in an hour a day, that is the actual writing. Writing is a craft using skills that need to be developed through exercise. The hour a day is the exercise and needs to continue every day. I have talked about the preparation of material through notetaking and discussions with others. Once you have a rough manuscript, the editing process begins. This is a long arduous process that involves other people.

So now the good news and the reason I am now able to write this piece. I have completed my first rough draft of 54,000 words. It is in the editing stage. I am entering some unknown territory now; not that I don’t know about editing, I am just not sure how this is going to pan out for my book. I am expecting that it will take a long time. I will need a thick skin, since it well involve the critiquing of my baby.

Once I have the book edited and ready to be published, I will be ready to enter more new territory; not that I don’t know about publishing, I don’t know what happens once it is laid out for printing. It is not that I don’t know about printing, I am not sure where and how my book will be printed. You see, I have worked in the printing industry and can do the prepress myself. I might even be able to produce an eBook. I can find a printer, I’m sure.

What is really unknown for me is the way the publishing world works today. The preparation work, printing, distribution and sales can be all tied together. I have decided to leave those concerns for when I have a finished, fully edited manuscript ready to go. I guess I am sort of thinking that by the time I get there, some doors will be available and I may have some choices for my next steps.