Welcome to the smarter music blog!

I am always struck at first by the “why” of blogging, and in fact the tiny and short lived blog I wrote only a handful of entries for while living in Asia was dominated by reflexive commentary on the processes of its own creation. Maybe I’ll reproduce one or two of those entries here at some point, but in general I’m going to forgo that tack in favor of producing some actual- what’s the word… content. (Gasp!)

One reason is this: this blog actually does have a why! What is it? Well…

Yuri and I both spend a lot of time thinking about music. I mean a lot of time. This is not news to those near and dear to us, I’m sure, but it bears mention for the rest. After 11 or so years of earnest exploration, I try very hard to remember that I’ve at least figured a few things out (though daily I feel to the contrary.) Some of these things come in the form of little truths… lessons learned out of the microcosm of a musical endeavor that can be applied to the rest of one’s life. Some of them are simple mechanical understandings of the workings of different instruments or the techniques applied to them. Once in a while, I might feel like I figured something really big out- or stumbled on a way of thinking that makes everything make more sense. Those moments are so few and far between, but without them true advancement would not be possible. It all depends, I guess, but with something as delightfully interdisciplinary as music, for an open mind the fun need never end.

But of course, it is the joy and frustration of learning that every step forward gives you two more ways to turn, and it is so true that knowing anything at all just shows you how much you lack. The title of this blog, while a minor point of contention between its creators, is accurate in its description not of the music we may discuss or the theories we might stand behind but of the approach we’re trying to follow. Ultimately, “smarter” means something along the lines of “more efficient understanding”… what it most definitely does not mean is “better because it’s harder to understand.” Hopefully, if we do our job right, this distinction will come through in the writing. I think a lot of what Yuri has already written has this characteristic, and I’m really looking forward to adding to it.

On a personal level, I’m excited about having a reason to actually organize all the crap floating around in my head. I’ve always been jazzed up by the prospect of understanding how music works, and a lot of the things I now intuitively grasp began as external abstract concepts. To go in the reverse direction is a kind of exercise in mental gymnastics, and one that I look forward to.

Though this is a music oriented blog, expect regular excursions into neighboring concepts. After all, nothing exists in a vacuum (do you hear me, New Criticism?) and applying specific ideas in a general way is half of the reason for studying anything at all!

Alright, well, we’ve got a lot of ground to cover, so that’s that for now. Perhaps more to come after our internet is beaming from a less dubious source. In the meantime, here’s a slightly pertinent quote (and I paraphrase)

“You’ve got to learn everything, of course, all of the scales and chords and how to get around on the instrument, but the ultimate goal is to forget it all again and to just play.”

-Sonny Rollins


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