The other day I struck up a conversation with a fellow bike commuter waiting out rain under the Comanche Street bridge. He was *impressed* to hear that I’m a pianist and *impressed* to hear that I’m a composer. Whenever I impress someone, I begin to feel uncomfortable, and some part of me starts looking for a way out of the conversation. His curiosity was earnest, though his interest in music was apparently fairly shallow. I should have been able to speak to him with equal unbridled honesty about the thing I do all day, but I found my patience exhausted by his reliance on old platitudes about classically trained musicians and what it’s like to watch them play. “Especially when you see a pianist do some blues, or ragtime,” he said, gesturing with his hands.
I should have said: for me, music is a social activity and even a professional aspiration, but it’s also a spiritual and imaginative experience that puts me in touch with alternate ways of living and looking at reality; so I tend to seek out the new and unfamiliar, because that’s where I find novel approaches that make me believe in the future and the holy contour of life. People have a box of what they think music is, based on old European notions of virtuosic performance and emotional self-expression. I hope that next time someone tries to fit me into the box, I’m able to say something like that.
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• Gone Walkabout
• Music as Drama
• Crossroads II
• 10 Best of 2014
• January: Wyoming and the Open
• February: New Mexico and the Holes
• Coming Up
• Notes on The Accounts
• Crossroad Blues