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Paul F. Murphy: Playing Universally

By Published: April 28, 2010
AAJ: There are a lot of things happening in the studio that allow people who are not competent players or singers to sound good. And it doesn't end in the studio. They also use live digital enhancement techniques to make bands sound good that would otherwise be sub-par— it's called "sweetening." Why have we allowed these sorts of things to go down?

PFM: Money. They are making money off of it. And most people don't know, I guess.

AAJ: Not only is there the idea that modern day methods of teaching music fail to produce new, forward thinking and innovative artists but perhaps that we are being taught that past innovative composers and artists did things in a way that they might not have. Meaning these artists were working within the confines or in a set way that isn't necessarily true . . .

PFM: Meaning that if Beethoven was such a great innovator—and he was—then why are we still playing Beethoven's Fifth without any innovation and the way that somebody wrote it down after the fact. When the Boston Pops play Beethoven, the lead instruments play with no innovation, and, as Beethoven was a great innovator, why are we playing Beethoven the same way day after day, month after month, year after year. I don't think Beethoven would be into that. The printing press has allowed the penning of music through the use of a staff and bar lines. Melodies are not thought of or written with the use of bar lines. We have to think beyond and sustain and resolve our musical gestures and the archivist of music will supply the staff and bar lines.

Because of the invention of the printing press and current educational methodologies, musical notation has become simplified, whether it be a linear, melodic or horizontal chord structure idea to be read and understood. This has allowed music to become accessible for many living in our civilization. It has also created a pattern of writing compositions that can be defined and understood but creates a box. It has also offered very little explanation or knowledge of how to attain feel. I ask our musicians of the future to have a solid understanding and perception of the box but also to have the innovation and thought to think and play outside the box as well as to learn how to project the human emotion of the heart, which is feel. You must be able to swing.

Selected Discography

Paul Murphy/Larry Willis, Foundations (Murphy Records, 2009)
Paul Murphy/Larry Willis, Exposé (Murphy Records, 2008)
Paul Murphy/Larry Willis, Excursions (Murphy Records, 2007)
Paul Murphy Trio, Shadow * Intersections * West (Cadence, 2004)
Paul Murphy, Enarre (Cadence, 2002)
Paul Murphy/Joel Futterman/Jere Carroll, Breakaway (Cadence, 2000)
Trio Hurricane, Suite Of Winds (Black Saint, 1986)
Jimmy Lyons Quintet, Wee Sneezawee (Black Saint, 1984)
Paul Murphy Quintet, Cloudburst (RCA, 1983)
Paul Murphy/Jimmy Lyons, Red Snapper at CBS (CIMP, 1982)

Photo Credits

Pages 1, 2: Lion Fox Studio

Page 4: Courtesy of Paul F. Murphy

Pages 3, 5: Seana Carroll

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