Thoughts on musical excellence and humility

How many times have I written a great piece of music, yet, was victimized by a poor performance? Too many to count, in fact. And, to go in the other direction, I recently heard a musical score for a film, that was, in my mind, quite mediocre. But it was STUPENDOUSLY well played, by the best musicians in London, by a great engineer, in one of the best studios in the world. Many  smart, and observant friends of mine have said, that was really a pretty good score, and it  worked well with the film. So I had to reconsider my opinion, to a certain extent.

What this comes down to, is this. Great music, played by mediocre players, sounds mediocre. Mediocre music, played by great musicians, sounds, in fact, pretty good. So what’s more important, what’s on the printed page, or who’s playing the thing? I think I have my answer.

Composers. You are NOTHING without great players that are sympathetic to your wishes. They are the unsung heroes of most music played in the world today. Treat them with respect and love. You need them more than they need you. Be humble, and grateful for what they do for you. This is true in all music, but especially in my favorite music, jazz. Composers, support your players and let them do their thing.  Your music will sound better, and YOU get the credit.

Corollary #1. Mediocre music well-copied makes more money, in general, than great music poorly copied. Often it sounds better, too. Take the extra time to make your music LOOK great on the page. More on that, later.

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