Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Tuning Slide- Be Crazy- Crazy Good!

Weekly Reflections on Life and Music
Those who dance were thought to be insane 
by those who could not hear the music.

I know- I ended last week's post with that same quote. Well, consider it the theme, the phrase that ties last week to this week. It is a segue into what is like a coda to last week. For when I was finished typing it for last week, I could hear the unmistakable voice of camp director, Mr. Baca:
Are you crazy?
and the response, as always
Yeah- crazy good!
Not sure what to say about that I Googled the phrase "crazy good" and ended up at the online Urban Dictionary where I found:
a. Awesome, amazing, cool, stunning, super cool
Knowing the humility for which we trumpet players are so well known (?), that made sense. Hey- this is about being "crazy good." Awesome, amazing, etc. It is beyond just plain good. Man, it's crazy good!

But that's not what the quote is about. It's more than being especially good, talented or stunning. And sure enough, right after that first definition was another:
b. The feelings following an enlightenment; typically in creative work (elevation of work of art, idea, ability, level of happiness), where one is playing with and extending further. As the paradigm has shifted, others may express the genuine feeling you have actually gone crazy, however the opposite could be true and the path to awesomeness is being cemented.
Wow. Now that I have had happen. A moment of enlightenment, that old "Aha!" moment, leads down a path that you had never thought you would be following. The idea or ability or level of happiness is beyond what we have thought to be "normal." And that can feel like crazy!

Isn't that what musicians are looking to do- go beyond the "normal," find the new idea, the new experience, even in the song you have played hundreds or more times?  You finish playing that exercise in Clarke or the Etude in Concone and you find yourself sitting in silence. Something has just happened. You can't explain it, but you know it is real. People may look at those hours of practicing studies from the 19th Century and look at you and say,
What? Are you crazy?
and you smile and say,
Yeah- Crazy  good!
Or you are sick and tired of that piece your band plays every gig. There isn't even a place of solos or improvising. Sure, the group plays it well. You should after how many times you have played it. But then there's that moment when the audience stands and applauds and you realize you have just played it in a way that you never remember before. Sure, same notes, same rhythms. But the groove? The expression? The tightness of the group? You smile to yourself and say,
Yeah- Crazy good.
Or there's that memory of that place on the west facing lookout at the park. There's room for maybe 20 or 30 people- and the place is full. It is almost sunset on a perfect day. People are chatting and discussing everything from the weather to politics to how to keep the kids quiet long enough for you to see the sun set.

You didn't need to worry. As the sun sinks into t he western horizon and the colors begin to grow and deepen, the crowd speaks more softly. Even the children are entranced by this every day event as daylight lessens and shadows lengthen. You realize that the whole group is now silent. Adults and children in awe of one of the most common events on the planet. In awe as if there has never been one like it- and never will be again.

Try to explain that to someone who may not be able to get it, who doesn't hear the music of the sun or the birds in the forest behind you. Try to describe what it means to one of those overly logical-types who want answers.
What? Are you crazy or something?

Yeah- crazy good!
The past few weeks I have written about the language of music and the ability to speak it, live it, understand it, play it. It is a wordless language that makes no sense to someone who has never experienced it. It is tough enough for most of us on those days when the lip won't stay on the right note, the brain forgets how to play a "G major" scale, and you run out of breath half-way through every phrase.

But we keep coming back because we know the language and we know it works. Not every time, not every day, but when it happens, we are transformed.

So, I will end by again quoting Mr. Baca:
Let's get crazy!
Crazy good!

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