Corey Mwamba


Entries for 3rd Aug 2018

Random Coltrane thoughts, this time on language surrogacy in music (music acting as a surrogate for speech). Here's exhibit A.

Now, I don't actually agree with the programme maker's ideas on how the words and the phrases match up exactly (this is known as an abridging system).

But we do know that Coltrane based the theme on the speech. He could have done this ideographically instead (so a sound holds a concept that can be expressed linguistically). For example: "repetition of the tonic = God".

Here is exhibit B. This is the schematic for "A Love Supreme".

Towards the bottom right, it says "attempt to reach transcendent level with (orchestra)" "Horn ends on—Thank You God -" (crossed out?) "Amen These final notes by bass Say Amen—Symbolically"


And then centre-bottom: "Last chord to sound like final chord of Alabama"

So Coltrane was certainly using sound as metaphor here—to actually say something in the metaphorical realm.

So, what did the final chord of Alabama mean to Coltrane? What was he saying?

"Saying" will be a sticking word for some. There has been a pushback against the use of linguistic terms for describing music in certain corners of academia. But what does the researcher do when the musician actually says they want to "speak"?