The Last Song You Hear

If there were a song that you could listen to, never heard it before, in fact no one can really tell you what it sounds like because no one knows, and at the conclusion of the song your life was over, would you listen to it?  I would.  I realize how odd that sounds but I can’t imagine a better way I’d want to go than that.  This deal wouldn’t be a joke, it would be an actual song with lots having gone into it.  In other words, whatever mystical force offered this to you isn’t trying to trick you.  It’s just a song that at the end of it you die.  Would you listen?

death_by_music_2116565

I would want to know what it sounds like.  Is this the sound of death?  My own death?  My own life?  Would it be custom tailored for each person or is there possible a song that is so powerful, so wise, so cathartic that anyone who hears it would stop living in this world.  Does that peak your interest?  It floors mine.

Some composers must have been trying to get close.  Beethoven string quartet no. 15, 3rd movement comes to mind.  If you haven’t heard that check here and read up on the story behind this movement in particular.  He thought he was going to die:

“Die, die my darlin'” by the Misfits, “Transatlanticism” by DCFC…I won’t continue to list but in so many genres composers write about death.  Not just death but include or point to the cathartic release from this life in a song.  Seems like a good goal to pursue.  As a composer I’d love to write this song.

I know it sounds suicidal but if I were offered the song I would listen without looking back.  So much passion in music.  I know this as someone who has written, recorded, performed, conducted, rehearsed, adored, hated, loved, made a soundtrack to my life and anything else you can do to music.  What does release sound like for you?  What would ultimate release sound like for you?  If you heard it – would you then die?

Stay On the Beat but Don’t Rush

I was fortunate enough to have a handful of lessons and days spent with, in my opinion, the greatest trumpet player in the world;  Carl Saunders.  Not only is he an amazing technical bebop player but his tone is bluesy and personal, his range has no limits high or low, and his lines flow endlessly from tasty lick to tasty lick across the complete range of the horn in a one breath phrase longer than expected.  In short, he’s jaw dropping.  See for yourself:

Of course, he could also scat, sing, compose hundreds of tunes, play drums, bass and piano extremely well.  He is truly an extremely talented person.  In my time with him he gave me lots of honest feedback and very wise tips.  I’ve always thought that 70 year olds have the best advice.  They’ve really lived, accomplished much, proven their hold here, and are carefree enough to pass on their honest stories and lessons.

One of my favorite quotes of his was “stay on the beat but don’t rush.”  He was speaking musically but I interpreted this also metaphorically.  It’s about life.  Pay attention to where you are, consciously be aware and stay on the beat – in the moment – but don’t rush.  Don’t get ahead of yourself, don’t overthink or over do anything, just be where you are.

Musical time is also one of those things that gets better with age because it has to do with time itself!  Someone older who has been through many lessons and learned about what stays the same through the changes and the years will have better musical time than a beginning piano student.  Sure, this is because of their difference in experience, training and development but also their experience and understanding of time.  Or the fact that those 3 things take place over time.  So time improves as one gains more experience with time or simply has lived more life.

As CS used to end phone conversations, “stay on the beat, but don’t rush.” 🙂