Too Many Notes


This is perhaps my favorite quote from a movie – Amadeus – when Mozart is accused of writing too many notes.

What is a note? What is music? How is a piece of music made? What does it mean when musicians play together? I saw Craig Harris and his ensemble, with some frinds tonight a few blocks down from where I live.

It was the first time I sat in the audience to watch live music since COVID began. I was enraptured.

Every solo seemed to come from the soul of the musician expressing his (they were all men) individuality. Individuation through musical performance if you will. What was everyone else doing during the solo, what was the band leader doing, what was the song that couched the solo that the solo rested in. As everyone played there is a convergence on a group vibration, a single organism, the band. The band moves in a certain way like a water that flows down the mountain in a certain fashion, creating grooves and eventually becomes a river. The solos are waterfalls or eddies or rocks or islands or fish or birds. Each river has its own character, speed, opacity, temperature.

The rhythm becomes the melody and then the melody becomes the rhythm. The rhythm is the discrete part of existence. When the electron makes its quantum jump and platinum becomes gold becomes quicksilver. The melody is the continuous part of existence.

I love it when the sounds meld together in a long slow sonorous blast. And someone peals away and plays what is in his own soul – maybe many notes, maybe short blasts of the same notes, maybe just air.

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