To be sincere

Andrea Motis, Alba Armengou and Èlia Bastida

In this piece, I contemplate the language of music, inspired by three young musicians (you will find links to them performing at the end of this piece). Their musical expressions create something in me that is a mix of melancholy and happiness – “Triste et beau”, to put it in French. 

As I have said, they are young. However, the music does not enchant me because of some charming traits of youth. In fact, I cannot identify any traits of youth in their musical expressions. I rather perceive their performances as mature, expressing mature feelings. 

How can these young musicians be mature enough to express feelings that speak to an elderly man like me? Is it because the language of music is so very different to communication by words?

When you want to reach a common understanding, the logic of communication by words is that you try to fuse into your messages what you want the receiver of your messages to comprehend. There are ways to find out if you are successful or not. When you tell friends something, you sometimes notice by their behaviour that they have misunderstood what you were trying to communicate. The reason often is that you and your friend did not have the same picture of the situation, and your message failed to bridge that difference. When you notice the misunderstanding, you might try to correct it by explaining further. 

The language of music is different. In a broad sense, it is the communication of emotions. There is no easy way to establish if the musician’s emotions and the emotions of the individuals in an audience are the same. Actually, there are not even any strong incentives to do so; applause seems enough to satisfy both musicians and the audience. 

When training to be a musician, the musician can learn how to express feelings effectively – maybe in a more mature way. However, the training does not transform the musician’s emotional life in depth. I do not deny that education and training could influence the musician’s emotional life to some extent, but if they are young with a young mind, they continue to be so until they are no longer young. However, the musical examples below show that young musicians can still communicate emotions with fellow musicians and audiences of very different ages.

So I conclude that the musician’s feelings and the feelings of the different individuals in an audience do not have to be identical, or even similar, to create valuable communication. Communication by music is not like communication by words.

Seemingly, music is a language that transcends age, gender and experiences.  Different people, with different emotions that vary in depth and background, can enjoy the same music through their emotions. I do not see this as a problem – rather as a valuable asset that makes us all come together, all sensing the feelings that are important to us individually.

However, what I do think is important is sincerity.  I believe musicians have to be sincere about their music to make it speak to us. So maybe sincerity, rather than maturity, is what counts. Andrea Motis, Alba Armengou and Èlia Bastida, all three with a background in the Sant Andreu Jazz Band in Barcelona, are sincere about their music. Here they each play a song together with fellow musicians – also sincere about their music.

Andrea Motis, Jesse Davis and the Sant Andreu Jazz Band directed by Joan Chamorro (2011)

From the album “Joan Chamorro presenta Alba Armengou” (2018)

From the album “Joan Chamorro presenta Èlia Bastida” (2017)