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I've heard and seen this a few times. The last one I saw on this forum promped me to ask these questions -

1) Have you lived it?
2) What's does "living it" mean to you?
3) Can you play it?

I thought I would just see what some of you guys have to say about this?
 

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Just because I lived it doesn't mean I can play it.
Even if I could play it, people may not want to hear me play what I have lived.
 

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I think it's generally a bunch of esoteric BS these days...

Without a doubt, the earliest blues songs were created by people who had lived what they were singing about, and may very well have never come into existence had those musicians not "lived" it...but that doesn't limit anyone else from being able to "play it". Learning and understanding different musical styles or genres, in my opinion, really isn't too much different than learning and understanding multiple languages. You don't have to have lived in France to understand and speak the French language fluently.

"Yeah, but he speaks French with a Southern Georgia accent"...

Okay...well, there is THAT. [rolleyes]
 

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I've "lived it" for a number of years, (70 actually), and I'm still playin' "it". It's called "life".
(and I'm still diggin' it). :)
 

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It's a cool thing to say, 'cause it's kinda enigmatic... That's why you keep hearing it.

It's a subtle way of saying "I've got street cred".

It's a badge that labels you as an insider.

I think it was Charlie Parker who started the trend.

I think it manifests itself as a kind of charisma (the 'play it' part), and that charisma is a product of spending a lifetime dealing with tough situations (the 'lived it') part.

To answer your questions, 'no' is the only honest answer I can give in my case. ;-)
 

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And the people that enigmatic saying seems to be pointing to mostly didn't live past thirty or so.......
 

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calling Gary!
 

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I think usually what that means is someone trying to say that you need more than just technique and talent to showcase emotions when playing. You have to know how it feels to feel. I wouldn't take it literally. There are plenty of musicians that "play it without living it". It's called being a good musician. Just like an actor playing a role.
 

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I think that you play your personality just as you express yourself when you speak. We have all heard the "Dr. Jazz" music educators that can't really play creatively or "tell a story". They are as dry as the environment they work in.
If you are an uptight *******, you'll play like one.
 

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I think there's some truth to the saying...my best works (for what that's worth) as a composer came at times of great personal upheaval. Divorce, addiction, pain and suffering of various types. I've also seen some older cats who have had many struggles play just a few notes and move me more than some of the younger players who are technically far better. If you can speak through your instrument or song or art, what you have lived is bound to play a part in what you say.

I'm also much more productive musically when my life is in crisis mode. It's as if I suddenly have more to say that can only be expressed through some kind of artistic process. If you're just a player that focuses on other peoples music probably none of this applies... Certainly improvised music like a lot of blues and jazz give you room to express, but I don't think anything you play from a page requires more than a good ear and technical proficiency.
 

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I think there is some truth to the expression, but it's not as "heavy or profound" as it first sounds. A good musician can express what he/she feels when playing music. If you feel alot, it will come out in the music, especially an expressive instrument like a sax. The violin and even a slide steel guitar are also expressive instruments that convey feeling easily, at least to my ears. Most people have "lived it" to a certain degree. You don't have to be a drug addict, an oppressed minority, or a former convict to have "lived it'. Any of life's disappointments, tradgedies, deprivations and joys produce emotional experiences that a good musician can express. You can express love, joy pain, sadness, gratitude,anger and most any other emotion if you are able to use the instrument to do that. If your goal is to simply show how technically expert you are in quick bebop style playing , for example, you are (perhaps unwittingly) even showing immaturity,pride and a certain shallowness when doing that. The music we produce seems to show it all.
I have known some relatively young musicians who are quite able to express a complete range of real emotion in their playing. Age isn't really as vital as the ABILITY to express what we have inside.
For those of us who 'need' to use music to help express our emotions, then it is even more noticable in our playing. The most impressive musicians to me are the ones who are technically proficient enough to fully express their emotions through their music. To me, music is mainly for that expression of feeling. It is possibly, at least for me, the most effective non-verbal way of doing that. In fact, for me, it often exceeds the verbal in its ability to express feeling.
 

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Wow, I'm surprised at the responses. Wait a minute. No I'm not.

This is not complex. In the jargon of the traditional jazz life, when someone played an improvised solo (really, even played at all,) if they were true to their soul, they were "telling a story" when they played. How are you going to be able to tell a story, if you don't have a story? (e.g. through life's experiences) There are many things in life that give you depth of experience that you can get only by living them, not by reading about them. A shallow life can lead to shallow playing. A life fully lived will be a song played with depth and meaning.
 

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Oh Mercy! SMT. Yes. Geez. Put him and Lady Day on that together and it'd be devastating (if it's not enough already)
 

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Arnie Lawrence to me one day at The New School: "John. Ya gotta dig it, to dig it. Dig it?"

He then walked off with a gleam in his eye. Here I am 25 years later, and yeah, ya gotta dig it, to dig it.

Took me sone life to figure out what he meant by that. But the years taught me the answer.


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