בס״ד

Music for Life! The Melodic Chains of Freedom

Posted on April 16, 2019

This week’s business as usual, but we’ll be off next week for the Passover holiday.  (We will of course, keep you apprised of the need to close any open trades, but we will not be issuing any new recommendations.)

As such, a brief word is in order regarding that week-long, spring festival of freedom and its deeper meaning.

First up, freedom is not – as many in the West believe – the opportunity to lie on a beach in Bora Bora with your third wife Anya sipping mango daiquiris.  That’s certainly an appealing fantasy, to be sure.  But ‘freedom’ it most certainly is not.

To understand what freedom is, we turn to legendary jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, whom we once had the opportunity to hear speak about his lifelong passion for music and his turn from classical forms to jazz.

The chat took place in 1987 in our college common room, where Marsalis spoke about his classical training and the love of ‘form’ it induced in him.

He also discussed the ‘paralysis’ he felt when he crossed over to jazz.

To paraphrase, Marsalis’ talk went something like this –

Classical music offers little room for interpretation.  Every note is assigned, the tempo is given – even the notes themselves have articulation instructions.  In short, there’s very little ‘room for manuever’ for anyone who wants to play in a larger ensemble.

 And that’s freedom!

The greatest freedom has the most restrictions.

When I played classical music, I never had to think.  The piece was practiced, memorized, locked into my being, and when I played, I just soared.  I loved it.  I flew.  I felt like I was unchained completely.

Jazz music is different.  Jazz is terrifying.  Jazz puts you on the spot with nothing planned, and you gotta make it work as you go. 

The experience of playing jazz and classical music couldn’t be more different.  They’re polar opposites.   

As in music, so in life.

The experience of someone who lives with restrictions, within boundaries, and with a prescribed daily regimen is polar opposite to one who wings his way through life, doing as he pleases and going with the flow.

He may think he’s free, but he’s not.  In fact, it’s more than likely he’s a slave to whatever fashion or trend is currently in vogue, whatever whim the gang is now stooping  to fulfill, whatever the culture is importuning him to watch, attend, play or listen to.

And that’s not freedom.

Regimen creates the foundation for true freedom.

May we remember that this year at our seder tables.

Chag sameach.

Eschatalogically yours,

Alan B. Harvard

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