Menu

Here & Now #204: Lounge music

Here & Now #204

Here & Now #204

Ocean Shores. Friday, 12.10pm

They speak their own language, musicians.

‘I’m starting here, pedalling it,’ the bass player says, demonstrating as he speaks, ‘then I’m moving to the sixth.’ His fingers are tentacles on the fretless neck of the double bass.

‘Starting with the major…’ the guitarist says, shaping some jazz chords around that bottom-end melody. He has a 1968 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop slung at his hip. A beautiful thing.

The drummer shimmers a cymbal and nails the swinging ryhthm, brushing the snare drum.

The saxophonist blows noislessly through his instrument, breathing life into it, his fingers pushing the keys, warming it up.

The guitarist continues: ‘And then to A minor…’ He strums a sequence ascending to the change.

The band follows the directive and kicks up to the new chord – a chord flavoured with the sweet melancholy that minor chords can evoke. The saxophone suddenly and mournfully comes to life, wailing like a human attending great loss. It seems to cry for our mortality, for love lost, for the dying reef, the poisoned sea…

The music, sepulchral but euphoric, lifts me from my chair (metaphorically, of course – I have a cast on my leg, and crutches are pinionless), taking me out of the neat suburban house. I’m soaring on thermals of harmony, flying above the roofs of Ocean Shores that roll in tiled tempo towards an ocean sparkling under a prodigal sun.

‘Wait, wait,’ the bass player says.

The band stops. I’m back in my chair.

‘Do you think that the sax should come in after the words? Maybe in the minor?’

‘Okay, let’s try it,’ says the saxophonist.

‘So, stay in the E till then?’ asks the guitarist.

‘Yeah,’ says the bassist. ‘Until the words finish.’

‘Then that run, to intro the hook,’ says the saxophonist.

‘Then the sax solo,’ says the bassist.

‘Let’s try it,’ says the drummer, clicking his sticks together, counting.

The band starts again.

Four bars in, I feel it’s my time. This is why I’m here – I have the words.

Sitting in a wooden chair, a typed page in my hand, a microphone at my mouth, and at a glance from the bassist, I speak my words. They sound different to the inner voice of their creation. There’s new phrasing shaped by the music. The words and music are bedding together, their mutual fertility creating something –

‘Stop,’ the bassist says.

‘This is where we should do that run,’ the saxophonist says to the guitarist. ‘Let’s practise it. Two, three, four –’

As one, the four articulate an intro to the hook. At the intro’s end, in an empty space where only the last ripple of a tremolo-ed guitar chord lingers, I speak the hook phrase. It sounds just right.

‘Now, from the top,’ someone says.

I’m not singing; I’m speaking. But this is not poetry with background music; this is our attempt to create something more than that. The words are coming alive, forced from the page by the music, like punters from their seats at a gig, to boogie with the beat, to move to the melody. This newborn euphony is already graceful, elegant – and ours.

Art is all I have left.

I have struggled with the social responsibilities of career and family (and found joy in them). I have battled the destructive forces of political expediency (and learnt being on the right side in battle is more important than being on the winning side). I have suffered the disappointments of ambition and acquisition (even, or especially, when I’ve achieved with both).

Here and now, there is only art.

Art is what humans do.


One response to “Here & Now #204: Lounge music”

  1. Debra morgan says:

    Sounding very mealncholic S.
    It’s a consequence of being alive and caring with some understandable despairing.
    How did that quote go from the pollie?
    If we don’t have art then what are we fighting for? Something like that.

    A lot of us are feeling the crunch now that John Clark has passed away…a grand man passed in the grand Grampions.
    A true artist…of wisdom, creating succinct illuminating satire pertaining to the political condition with humour and magnificent intelligence.
    Your duo has much in common with him.
    Warmest regards Deb M
    Ps: I have to keep a very close eye on my spell check…..it can be my worst enema.
    PPS: to leg, heal well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 

Become a supporter of The Echo

A note from the editorial team

Some of The Echo’s editorial team: journalists Paul Bibby and Aslan Shand, editor Hans Lovejoy, photographer Jeff Dawson and Mandy Nolan

The Echo has never underestimated the intelligence and passion of its readers. In a world of corporate banality and predictability, The Echo has worked hard for more than 30 years to help keep Byron and the north coast unique with quality local journalism and creative ideas. We think this area needs more voices, reasoned analysis and ideas than just those provided by News Corp, lifestyle mags, Facebook groups and corporate newsletters.

The Echo is one hundred per cent locally owned and one hundred per cent independent. As you have probably gathered from what is happening in the media industry, it is not cheap to produce a weekly newspaper and a daily online news service of any quality.

We have always relied entirely on advertising to fund our operations, but often loyal readers who value our local, independent journalism have asked how they could help ensure our survival.

Any support you can provide to The Echo will make an enormous difference. You can make a one-off contribution or a monthly one. With your help, we can continue to support a better informed local community and a healthier democracy for another 30 years.”

Echonetdaily is made possible by the support of all of our advertisers.