Freedom in music and life
This is an amazing talk from Kenny Werner about what it means to be free in musical performance.
5 minute read
Kenny Werner is one of the greatest living piano teachers on the planet.
Yet he's more than that.
He's one of the greatest teachers in the world about life too.
In this talk, Kenny explains the notion of free jazz.
It is also about the notion of free living.
The life of freedom.
Here are some of the remarkable statements Kenny makes in this wonderful presentation.
'There is only one real freedom. And that is the freedom from having to sound good.'
Kenny tells us that much of lives are 'tied' to other people's and our own expectations.
We are prisoners to those things and that trips us up all the time in everything we do.
Satisfying our own craving as well as cravings from other people around us.
The society as a whole.
'There is no financial freedom in being rich. The only real freedom is in not needing it.'
There is a huge difference between wanting and needing.
Much of our lives we spend in a needy state of expectation that causes suffering.
Suffering while we eat, play, be and whatever else we do.
We must let go of the idea of needing anything.
At that point we become free and we become able to live a full superhuman life.
'Whoever tries to play well is not free, which is why there is so little profound music.'
Trying is a rubbish idea.
More we try, more we fail.
The more we build up the tension between expected outcome and that what we are doing.
There is much to learn about life from music.
One can do it all the time.
Music has everything that life has.
Structure, emotion, pace, rhythm, expression, story and so much more.
'What made jazz great was great beings playing it.'
Here Kenny is talking about the notion of Be-Do-Have.
We first must Be great, to Do (play) great music and Have great sound.
All the true musical masters Were and Are great people first then everything else second.
And they know it consciously.
'Creator gives hints to the beauty inside and outside. One of the stronger hints it gives is through music. The greatest gift is to be free to express that and not win some prize somewhere.'
God talks through music in the loudest and most beautiful way.
Keep in mind here is that every musician will likely think that the universe is a musical organism.
'Mastery is necessary for music to be free in form.'
The reason to practice is to express godliness in a more structured form.
'You can experience freedom on the first day if you are willing to love the sound you make on the very first day.'
By letting go of the need to sound good, we can embrace all sounds as musical.
'The reason we train is because we would get bored with what we play if we didn't. There is a thrill in re-experiencing freedom in a different form.'
Many people get bored of doing the same thing over and over.
We can vary things around and this is why we can learn new skills to keep it all fresh.
'We can define freedom as 'simply loving the sound we make today'. You can do this now. You can experience freedom with a form. Or master form to create freedom.'
Yes, freedom is available to you right now, no matter what your circumstances are.
It's a mental concept, rather than a circumstantial thing.
'When you build the temple to the music, you lose the deity that dwelled there. It's not the music. It's the being who became the musician.'
'What is your true inner urge, you develop that, you become the inner lover of it.'
'I want to feel great while playing. Whatever note I play, whether by accident or by design I want to love it.'
This requires some of the inner search and getting in touch with oneself more.
Many people feel disconnected from themselves and do external things to fulfil themselves.
One must come from a fulfilled state first to do great things though.
Once that state of fulfilment is there, we can do great things.
'The wrong note in the 14th century for which you might got burnt at the stake, became the right note in 15th century without which you couldn't get a gig without playing. So was there ever any wrong notes?'
Kenny tells us that there are no such things as failures.
Consequent understanding here will tell us that there are no such things as successes either.
'If it comes out easily, the little voice in your head tends to say: 'It must be the wrong stuff'.'
By integrating your ego and shadow, you can stop listening to the inner critic.
Once you realise the true nature of yourself, you realise that everything is very easy.
Everything that is beautiful.
'Education is not the broth, it's the spice. And too much spice spoils the broth. Don't let education grow over you like ivy, so that you cannot even see your heart anymore.'
We can get stuck in over educating ourselves to show off how 'smart' we are.
Academic smart is one of the 16 or more strands of human intelligence.
Our creativity comes from anywhere but academic intellect.
This is why we have to get in touch with ourselves to be completely creative.
'Find out how the music comes out through you. You can't apply a technique here. It's got to be real. Make a pact with yourself that as soon as you hear the first sound you are going to snort it, sniff, chew on it, digest it, injest it. Take the plunge. Before you play the instrument, imagine you have been thirsty for weeks and your instrument is the ice cold glass of water. Free jazz is available to everybody. If I don't go to the eye of the hurricane, I've lost my compass.'
What Kenny is telling us is to get in touch with our true selves.
Our inner core.
Undiluted, omnipotent source of creativity which is unique only to us.
By being in that core all the time we can be creative to absolute level.
Our absolute maximum potential which nobody else can emulate, let alone be.
To do this we must shed the baggage of the social imprint we collected over the years.
'I'm just not going to get caught up in something so small as: 'What is jazz?'
There is so much more to the world and music than silly definition and critiques.
We can, right now, be creating the best masterpiece of our lives.
All we need to do is to let the creator speak and get out of its way.
Dissolve the shadow and let the light shine straight out from your inner core.
Watch Kenny's presentation
Published on: 07 Sep 2017