Following last weeks post on how to experience music like a musician, I came across recently this gem of a clip of the Pat Metheny Group performing “The Way Up” in 2005 in Montreal. This piece was written by Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays as a “protest” record. Metheny said the following in an interview at the time:
“At the core of THE WAY UP, in some ways it’s a protest record for us. It’s a record I think that, that represents our desire to reconcile complexity in the face of a culture that rejects complexity, and to honor the impulse that we have to understand things through nuance and detail in the face of a culture that is more and more, year by year rejecting nuance and detail.”
So they wrote a 68 minute piece of music with 4 parts that was played straight through live. Take a listen to the first clip (Opening 1/10) and just sort of listen to the ambient sounds that are going on. This clip is the opening of the piece and sets the tone for all the twists and turns that follow later in the tune.
Then move to this clip (clip 2/10 Part I of the song) and you’ll see how musicians experience music differently than most people.
This section of the tune builds the theme, a triangle of notes, crushingly and deceptively simple. If you pay attention you’ll see (hear) that there is a narrative going on in this music. Music speaks, it tells a story. Repetition of the theme drives it home. Ask yourself as you listen to this what the melody reminds you of. Its personal to you but somehow almost everyone takes away the same image of what they hear.
The song sorts of hangs in the air (3:00), it sort of floats. But then around 3:45 you hear it pick up some muscle and kick into a blues gear almost, and the key change at 4:05 takes it a step up and builds it further. There is an energy that is being built amongst the players and at 4:34 it breaks loose.
Then from 4:55 to 5:09 of the clip the music pushes and pushes and pushes on the same level and causes the listener to beg for a resolution until finally at 5:10 it releases and all the sound and pent up energy is released into the air.
That’s how music is heard, felt, and seen by musicians. Each musician plays his part, you can hear them individually and collectively at almost any point of the song and each plays off the other pushing and pulling. When it comes down to it, music is actually very physical.