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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000399.txt from 2003/10

From: Andy Raibeck <>
Subj: RE: [kl] band directors
Date: Mon, 13 Oct 2003 12:44:35 -0400

I don't think that the intent was to suggest that the improviser's music is
"one-dimensional"; rather, that the player's ability to communicate the music
is limited.

With that said, I would offer the following:

- There are a great many musicians that can not read a note of music. I would
have to guess that many jazz and rock musicians can't read or notate music, yet
many of them produce wonderful music.

- While the inability to notate music is a limitation, current technology does
a lot to lift this limitation. For example, many music notation software
programs can create a score from music entered via a midi keyboard.

- Jazz improvisation is by nature "of the moment", and is rarely captured on
paper (at least as far as I know). Thus the inability to write music notation
is usually irrelevant.

Regarding the comment "... it is an enormous mystery to me how anyone can play
an instrument with a high degree of skill and yet freeze completely once the
dots aren't there to read.": I'm not sure why this should be a mystery. It
seems clear (at least to me) that the talent and ability needed to perform
written music are different than the talent and ability needed to compose
music, be it by carefully written and revised manuscript or "on-the-fly"
improvisation. To draw an analogy, it is one thing to be able to construct a
house from a given plan, but it is another to be able to create the plan



--- Noel Taylor <> wrote:
> Oh dear, I think as a self-confessed "functionally illiterate" player who
> mostly gets by playing by ear, I do have to make one or two points. It
> probably is very "one-dimensional" to not know enough sight reading and
> notation to follow a score, but that doesn't mean that the music an
> improviser can produce is necessarily always going to be 'one-dimensional'.
> Indeed, I could just as easily, in return, regard someone who can't
> improvise but is trained up to the eyeballs as musically limited. As it
> happens, I don't really think like that - although it is an enormous mystery
> to me how anyone can play an instrument with a high degree of skill and yet
> freeze completely once the dots aren't there to read. I just can't
> understand the process - and yet I've met so many people who say that's how
> they are and nothing can be done about it.
> As for players like myself being "stuck in their own little world" - it's
> true, all true... but it's still quite a vast world out there, even so. I
> also find the notion of notated jazz (without any passages of improvisation
> at all) - ever so slightly weird. In defence of Mathew's remark about a
> 'jazz sound' - this is such a common linguistic construct that I see no
> reason to quibble with it. Have you ever heard top opera singers trying to
> sing jazz...? What an embarrassment! They (I'm sure there are some
> honourable exceptions) sing all the notes correctly, but they get them all
> wrong. It don't mean a thing, etc...
> Noel Taylor
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Buckman, Nancy []
> > Sent: 13 October 2003 16:39
> > To:
> > Subject: RE: [kl] band directors
> >
> >
> > Matthew,
> >
> > You don't need a special clarinet to make a jazz sound. Jazz
> > isn't a sound at all. It's a style. I use the same set-up
> > for my jazz ensemble playing that I use for my orchestral
> > playing. I will grant that it is easier to bend notes on a
> > mouthpiece that is more open at the tip. But with a minimum
> > of practice, it can be learned on any mouthpiece. Even you
> > could learn to play in the jazz style Matthew. I am no jazz
> > player and still can't improvise on my own, but I know the
> > style well enough, so that if the music is notated on paper,
> > I can play "in the style" and you wouldn't know otherwise,
> > that I am not fully literate as a jazz musician. There
> >
> > As for those people who only play by ear, there is something
> > to be said for the fact that they do derive enjoyment of
> > music. But there is so much that they are missing....kind of
> > like the functionally illiterate. They can't notate anything
> > they create or read anything that anyone else creates. They
> > are stuck in their own little world, unless there is someone
> > to help them write or read music - so one-dimensional. And
> > when your ship band leader discusses chords and their
> > progression or wants to begin rehearsal at bar "whatever",
> > that clarinetist hasn't a clue about what is going on.
> >
> > Nancy
> >
> > Nancy E. Buckman, CPO, AFO, Technical Assistant
> > School of Health Professions, Wellness and Physical Education
> > Anne Arundel Community College Arnold, MD 21012-1895 USA
> > Phone 410-777-2316 Fax 410-777-2233 E-mail
> >
> > ---------------------------------------------------------------------
> > or
> > if you get the
> > For help: send an email to
> > to Klarinet is a service of
> > Woodwind.Org, Inc.
> >
> >
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
> Klarinet is a service of Woodwind.Org, Inc.

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