NPR's "All About Jazz" blog linked to this interview
with Branford Marsalis. It's full of profanity, so I'm hesitant to link to it. But I like what Marsalis has to say in it about melody. He's pitting melody against ... well, I'm not sure. Against technique, maybe, or perfectionism in jazz.
I've written at A&F about melody in songwriting, and how important it is to me. I do like nonmelodic music, but since I'm not a musician, such listening can feel like a chore sometimes. Sure, it broadens me, expands my appreciation. But when I want to listen to something I enjoy, I go for melodic music. I know that's heresy in some quarters, but I'm too old to care.
Excerpt from the article:
I started to hear melody and I realized there was power to it. And suddenly one day somebody came up to me, a woman, and she said, “You guys played that ballad and I had tears in my eyes.” And I started thinking, “F--k, when has that ever happened to me?” Never, never. That’s when I started understanding the power of melody, and that’s one of the things that Joey learned. After he joined the band he started listening to a lot of music and paying attention to melody—and now he writes these beautiful songs and women and babies are f--king crying when we play these songs. Now, there are other musicians who hear those songs and come up to me and say, “Man, what’s wrong with Joey? Is he going through some kind of depression?” They think these songs are a sign of weakness because they don’t even play gigs for regular people, so they don’t even get the power of this s--t. They don’t get it. But it doesn’t matter that they don’t get it, because I get it.
Earlier in the same article there's this anecdote, which made me laugh:
So they’ll say things like, “We’re gonna play ‘Yesterdays’,” but it’s in 11/4. I mean, really? Why do that to “Yesterdays”? Or it’s like what happened to me with Blakey one time, which was great. Blakey told me I had to play a ballad and I couldn’t play ballads at the time. So I started changing all the chords in the ballad, and he said, “What the f--k are you doing?” And I said to him, “I’m trying to make this s--t hip, man. You making me play it, I’m gonna do what I can do to make it hip.” And he said, “Let me explain something to you, motherf--ker. George Gershwin does not need your sorry a-- to make him hip. He’s already hip. The only thing you’re doing is masking the fact that you don’t know what the f--k you’re doing. So you’re gonna play the song the way it’s written.” And that was a valuable lesson.
Edited by Christian, 23 November 2012 - 04:48 PM.