Saturday, June 24, 2006

Avant Garde

For those of you who don't know, I'm still working on my Bachelor's degree. Needing some Arts credits (and a much needed easy class), last semester I took "Evolution of Jazz". I was already a fan of jazz music before I took the class, but the class made me appreciate it more. I was exposed to different styles and artist who I might never have considered before. It was a rewarding class, and not just because I got an "A-".

One jazz style I'd never heard of before was something called "Avant Garde Jazz" or "Free Jazz". It came about during the 60's, when everyone was rebelling against the traditional. As described by professionals:

"The avant garde challenged the listener by allowing the musician to choose his own musical path rather than follow the traditional approaches to which jazz musicians had previously adhered. All aspects of the music were at the discretion of the improviser. The music often transcended recognizable pitches and musical shapes, allowing moans, shrieks, and cries to convey the energy and emotional discourse of the individual musician. (www.vervemusicgroup.com)

Sounds nice, huh? My own amateur description would be that each musician plays whatever is in his head at the time, disregarding any thoughts of harmony, chord progression, or beat. In other words, NOISE.

The sad thing is that those musicians one is able to pick out among the cacophony are quite skilled, but their talent is lost amidst the racket.

I'm to be conformed to the image of Christ, and when I'm in rebellion, my life is discordant, like free jazz. I'm out of harmony, and although I might be living a "pretty song", it gets lost with all the others who are playing over me.

The independence and individualism prized and encouraged by our culture is disturbing to our spirits, like a constant blare of a horn or siren. It agitates and irritates, like fingernails on a chalkboard. There's no musicality to it.

In Corinthians, Paul says "For the body is not one member, but many." And an orchestra, band, quartet, etc is not one instrument, but many following a musical score. Even when they improvise, band members complement the soloist, not work against him.

The musical style might be different - classical, jazz, rock and even Country & Western, but there is a tonal quality to it(well maybe not as much to C&W).

I've got a great composer, arranger and conductor in God. He's able to make beautiful music using me and my short, stubby spiritual fingers in His band of players as long as I read His score and follow His baton.

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