The Joy of Music and Art

As it is, so shall it always be. Music, an indescribable and fleeting thing. The string is plucked, the drum resonates, the bowed instrument plays one note that blesses the fleeting sound. One second it is there.

An eternal second, there is no time involved and the resonance goes into eternity and the joy flows abounding within the players. So quickly the musicians are drawn away from the object of the music to the playing of it. C.S. Lewis puts it well…”To be drawn away from the love of thing, he tells to fall in love with the telling”.

There is nothing liken to music, perhaps draftsmanship or painting the light. Again, the romance of the stunning scene to the love of creating the painting. Both the musician and the painter are vulnerable to elevation of self. We do not realize the breaking of our admiration of our talents and contributing perhaps one or two notes or a splash of sienna releases the joy and appreciative laughter of the hearing and seeing Master of all of it.

Images of musicians with the anticipated music played on perfect instruments abound. Especially for ones that have felt the joy and dance with a word sung or a set of notes played. Another image from Lewis: “If one could just read the score of that heavenly music, they would never be ill nor grow old.”

So many years, so many bands and sitting in with other bands. Jack was consumed with applause. For him. The pride of even placing in a fiddle contest would make Jack proud. Of himself. Jack is not as fast these days (getting really close to 80 years old) and actually, that helps. There were so many instrumentalists in Jack’s life and the attaining of blazing speed with difficult passages was the goal and passion of so many. Just listen to bluegrass sometime. The song is over before you can even remember the words. Nice music, don’t misinterpret Jack’s words here. Nice music and really nice people play bluegrass. There were, unfortunately, some artists that would overplay and smirk at Jack’s slow waltz’ or jazz. Emulating Bob Wills and his stunningly beautiful waltz’ was Jacks goal. He tried the Orange Blossom Special when playing the bar circuit. Jack would not play it until the third set when the patrons were drunk enough to enjoy Jack’s fiddling.

Now playing in the church..not A church, but THE church is Jack’s desire. A little mandolin to fill in the missing notes that Jack hears in his spirit. The mandolin is referred to as the violin’s ‘walking stick’. (The tuning is the same as the violin) Jack’s current worship leader mentions when the really high notes of vibrato ring out, it makes him laugh inside. Good description of joy in worship. Third position on the mandolin is a LOT easier than on the fiddle. It has frets. Those incredible stratospheric violin passages are pretty swell if your fingers are doing OK and you spend every day in the practice room. Since you were single digits old helps. Jack gets in awe when he hears those players. He wonders what they are thinking during those concertos.

So Jack needed applause to feel wanted and accepted. Now there is joy in worship when everything makes a brief tapestry of beauty. Offered to Jesus with love and adoration. It’s the only thing that works now. Applause may reflect how others in the room feel that too. It’s heart felt. The neat thing is that Jack now knows they are really applauding the beauty revealed of Jesus, the heart of everything. It’s pretty good. Jack Gator.

Musical Pathways

There are many ways as perhaps there are people to engage with music. It’s a bit of a stretch to think that way but it seemed apparent at a recent conversation. Three of the Gator family were discussing response to music played live. Not recorded. Ex Ante or before the music is heard, versus Ex Post afterwards.

Jack began seriously thinking about why he likes certain experiences of music, including music he has played ensemble. Is it the gestalt of everything, the singing, the instruments or the attitudes seen and felt? Perhaps at least all three, but one aspect stood out for Jack. The rhythm. When Jack played for years with a local square dance band, rhythm was everything. Even if the perceived pace was two or three times the chords or notes played. The dancers listened to the ‘caller’ we played the tune. No body in the band sung anything.

Before long, after joining the band at the invite of the mandolin player, Jack realized the gift he had been given for all of his life. He loved music from childhood onward but until he joined that band ( Duck for the Oyster) Jack did not know what really moved him about music. They knew after a short time of playing together. It was a four piece band consisting of a fiddle, a mandolin, a stand up bass and Jack on Guitar. Jack became dubbed “The Rhythm Monster” The playing of a chord slightly ahead of it’s usual place. Doubling up the time signature while the band played in ‘half time’. Adding extra beats to change a waltz so if the dancers were not careful, they could be a bit lost.

It made things cook and now and then when Jack would do these things, the guys would give a brief chuckle and join in the fun. Just adding a harmonic note instead of a chord would work too. They were all fantastic musicians and the joy they projected was palpable.

Nowadays, Jack plays with a small ensemble that is always a different group except for the guitar player and lead singer. He is, of course, the leader that gets the songs, the charts, the order and picks just who he hears in his mind to play. He picks Jack to play mandolin and violin every month or two and whenever they rehearse and play, Jack has fun with the rhythm with his instruments. The real high notes that are played with a tremolo makes the leader ‘laugh’ with delight. The fiddle Jack plays sounds more like the square dance and waltz things Jack learned playing country western music in the middle 70’s. Double stops with chops and more harmonics. It’s Jack’s love language.

This band is a worship band that plays in front of a sizable group and the hard part is playing a short period of five or less songs. The goal is to project the joy of the subject (whom Jack has some experience with) and the sure pathway to projecting this joy is to experience it in front of the singers, the congregation. A quick smile or a nod of a head. A quick glance by the leader with that smile, conveys the joy sought with all their hearts. It’s preaching on a different level. The message is always the same. The living God Jesus, deserves all the glory and honor. He dances and gives His joy to those in the room along with Him. Nothing else comes even close.

Do what you love and love what you do. It’s pretty good. Jack Gator