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If they had covered it in the debates, I'd have heard of it before. Interesting read, but I'm still confused. There's still one to go .... (debates). :argue:


Turtle
 

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I'm skirting dangerously close to the sort of knee-jerk anti-intellectualism I often decry in others, but it just sounds like free jazz to me and any further attempt to rationalize or systematize spontaneity seems totally unnecessary, as if the musicians didn't have the strength of their convictions and defensively felt a need to make their original and arcane music seem theory-based.
 

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Hey Kelly!

Nice article...and the earlier review too!

I think if I were going to try to really define harmolodics, I'd have to do some framework-level pespective sifting first.

One basic given would have to be that, whatever it is, harmolodics is likely to have evolved over time, and so cannot be reduced to Ornette Coleman's version of it.

More importantly--and this dimension is explored pretty interestingly, methinks, in David Lee's book on the "Battle for the Five Spot" --it may be that musical theory may not be the best interpretive framework for understanding harmolodics, or at least not the only one.

Lee situates Ornette Coleman's harmolodics socio-historically, and interprets it through the lense of Bourdieu. Because I have similar training--and am pretty much a moron when it comes to music theory--I find this kind of answer very compelling. Along the same (-ish) lines, I really like the framework for understanding modernism in Afro-American jazz that is laid out by Griffen and Washington in their book on "cool" (see my sig). If you ask them "what was harmolodics?, they'd say that it was, in part, a particular, and particularly important, Afro-American performance of masculinity, one which existed in a fraught, dialogical relationship with white notions of manhood and, as well, competing Afro-American ones, in this case profoundly embodied in figures like John Lewis and the other members of the MJQ...and of course Miles Davis.

I'd also probably want to start with the idea that, whatever it is, harmolodics is fundamentally a kind of praxis--i.e. a form of revolutonary action informed by theory. This would also lead to a heavily contextualized kind of definition.


Thanks for asking this!

I think it's always interesting to acknowledge that in the question, "What is X?," the meaning of "is" is not unequivocal!

PS I'll trade a Sinatra doing "Lonely Woman" for a Hegel singing "My Way" LOL
 

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Nice job, Kelly. And Blood is the one guy I would go to for an explanation, so it was good to see that you referenced him. However, I've never read an explanation by Ornette of Harmolodics that wasn't vague. Never.
 

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Thanks for this. In something or other over twenty years ago I had the audacity to call harmolodics mad. It's nice to know I was right.
 

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Kelly - I enjoyed your description of Ornette's Dancing in Your Head LP. I bought that record too, based on a rave review I read somewhere, probably Rolling Stone. Your reaction to it was the same as mine. And my lady hated it. She objected every time I tried to put it on and listen, so I was forced to play it only when she wasn't around.

I liked Ornette's invented word harmolodic. I thought it expressed very well his way of understanding what he was doing in his music. It doesn't necessarily translate to any other set of words as an explanation of anything. I think his own words that you quoted are the best explanation, "This means the rhythms, harmonics and tempos are all equal in relationship and independent melodies at the same time." No more, no less. :)
 
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