Corey Mwamba


100 seconds of jazz

Trying something new—an audio presentation of the written words, partly as an apology to the jazz100 crew for missing the video deadline (sorry!), but also because I was asked to record my voice. Hope it sounds all right! Although the music is longer than 100 seconds, my words are dead-on.

I am currently thinking about what it means to make, or as the great musician William Parker put it, become music1. This thinking is (of course) related to my PhD, but it also relates to what I do in music, and specifically improvisation, which personally (and contrary to John Cage's thoughts on it2) is a music that always takes me somewhere new. And to be clear, I'll be writing here from a personal perspective.

Here are a series of statements. I wrote them primarily to provoke me into thinking about the vibraphone, music, and jazz. They pointedly avoid placing any ideas about what music means to a person, or what music communicates; but those ideas can be used to question these statements.

  1. Music is a communicative act of generating and/or manipulating sound and interrelationships between sounds.
  2. Listening is paying attention to sound, using sounds; music; and memories of these, as resources.
  3. Improvisation is the method of using listening to make music at a present time.
  4. Jazz is a bundle of musical methods (methodology) that emphasises improvisation.
  5. This methodology has histories and aesthetics that relate to the African diaspora that were transported to and live in the United States.
  6. The histories, aesthetics, and musical methodologies of Black Americans are now globalised entities.

  1. William Parker, "Becoming Music: Building Castles with Sound", in Improvisation and Music Education: Beyond The Classroom, ed. by Ajay Heble and Mark Laver, 2016, pp. 176–80. 

  2. Richard Kostelanetz, Richard Kostelanetz, and Paul Avrich Collection (Library of Congress), Conversing with Cage, p 223. 

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