“Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.” The quote is often attributed to Thelonious Monk, and though it may not have been original with him, it certainly has his koanesque humor.
Yes, writing about music is an absurd venture into a laughable incongruence—a fool’s errand. How does one capture the most immediate and slippery of the arts with these clumsy words, and what would be the point?
I get it, but fool that I am, I can’t entirely agree.
For someone as profoundly musical as Monk, the music says everything that needs to be said. He sometimes refused even to put his music in writing for sidemen at recording sessions, insisting that they learn his knotty new compositions by ear.
For the rest of us, however, writing is a useful, if awkward, way to share our experience in music, and that is what this blog is about.
To paraphrase Duke Ellington—my apologies, but I cannot find the exact quote just now—some people are born to play music, and some are born to listen to it. I fall into the latter group. I have to listen in much the same way that a musician has to play. I can’t help myself.
I’m equally compelled, through some genetic accident, to share the experience. To do that effectively requires that I listen with a more heightened attention and sensitivity than I might otherwise. That has the happy effect of deepening the experience for me—so the sharing is not entirely selfless—and hopefully for you as well.
This blog is a new venture for me, both technologically and conceptually, so please bear with me while I find my way. I hope to reward your patience with a lively conversation about our mutual obsession.
P.S. Thanks are due to
- JB Bryan—poet, painter, designer, publisher—who, with preternatural patience, provided much-needed assistance in getting this site up, as well as the perfect masthead (that’s a Coltrane riff, by the way, in the composer’s hand).
- Pianist and website designer Jim Ahrend, who pointed out that a small technical problem that had been plaguing me—namely, me—had a simple resolution.
- All the people who believed in this project before I did, and encouraged me to pursue it.
Speaking of dancing . . .
© 2013 Mel Minter. All rights reserved.