Retro Rehearsal

During my rehearsal today in Warsaw, I had a bandleader try to explain some rhythmic features of Polish folk music. It was interesting to watch him, through his second language, try to distill hundreds, if not thousand of years of musical history. It wasn’t an effective strategy. The beauty of the moment was, though, that we eventually just started singing at one another—little snatches of melody and rhythm. The music sorted itself out. Although I still, certainly, don’t understand Polish folk music, I think I played something like what he wanted to hear.

Music is an extraordinary accelerator of cultural knowledge and understanding. The interplay of transcendence and immanence that is inherent in music, its resistance to commonplace linguistic encapsulation, provides the musician with a powerful tool for spreading meanings. We can speak music when words fail. This is a beautiful thing. And on my view, it requires no special training.