What Makes Great Music

Only one person showed up to my playshop today.  So we had a chance to focus in.  We started with what Music for People calls “One Quality Sound” where everybody just sings whatever note happens to come out of their mouth and we listen to the quality of that spontaneous chord.  In our case it was just a two note chord and of course it was beautiful so we did it again with different notes and it was even better because whatever happens in the moment is the best there is.  Then we picked out a couple of nice Djembes and got into some very flexible grooves that were able to meander freely because we were listening so intently to each other.  We added conversational singing which is just like talking but the attention is on melody.  She would sing a phrase then I would respond and we’d go back and forth until we found ourselves weaving our melodies together much like people do when they’re talking about something very exciting.  They’ll talk over each other but not in an interrupting kind of way but more like a duet.  Then we did some mirroring whereby one of us would sing slow enough that the other could follow all the nuances of pitch, timber, and volume exactly.

Basically what we were doing was honing our listening with each exercise.  And now we were ready to just play some duets with whatever instruments struck our fancy.  She played an mbera and I played ukulele.  We both sang.  And then we looked at each other when we both felt it was time to end and we made the ending extra special.  We did it again with me on guitar and lo and behold it was even better of course.  To me it was just as beautiful as anything I have ever heard even from my musical heros.

Then we talked about what makes great music.  We decided that it’s all about intention.  If you intend to go deep with each note and not spiral with judgment after it is played how can it not be beautiful?  She said that sounds like a spiritual practice.  I had to agree.

One thought on “What Makes Great Music

  1. How I love the vitality and spontaneity and downright feel-goodness of your music playshops! Everywhere you go, Jonathan, you make people want to vocalize their joy. Thank you for being who you are. Now make more music!

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