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Sunday, 10 April 2016

Scottish Socialist Jazz

"Don't call it some made up name- jazz. It's social music." Love that quote being used as a tag line for the new movie about Miles Davis. 

Over the past year, I've been slowly dipping my toe into jazz. I've started with Brubeck, Monk, Davis and some of the singers like Nina Simone, Billie Holliday, Ella. 

Like my going back to comics this year, it has been something that has brought me to other places. Other worlds. 

The Scottish Socialist world has proven to be not very social in the past year. On the contrary, it has been discordant, adversarial, vicious. 

There are a few people trying to pull the strings and the percussion together again, my baseball hat comes off to them. They have a difficult job after the past year of name calling, Machiavellian manoeuvring and denigration of comrades over social media. 

I suppose when new people enter the orchestra with their different musical backgrounds, influences and sometimes narrow perceptions of what music is, the tapestry of sound will have plucks and at times unravel. Having said that, it doesn't do for sweet music, or even mind expanding music that moves us all into a new world when the new comer to the band hits the existing members over the head with the amps. New influences, voices and instruments are always needed- but like Friere teaching literacy to those scraping a living from inhospitable places, it is sometimes best to sit and learn from the existing members first before adding new chords, beats and melodies. Music can become stale without the composer/ the social elements listening to new elements- learning comes from all participants.


I love the fact that some of those who have been the most divisive within the socialist movement have been posting links to Paulo Freire's works (it's telling though, that Pedagogy of the Oppressed- his most inaccessible book- is the one they post. Pedagogy of Hope is a better, more rounded, researched and much more accessible book). Freire advocated "social music," in that he saw us all as contributors to learning. His pedagogy was not top down. It wasn't about leaders of learning. It was about all participants knowing they had something to learn. It was like jazz music- everyone had a turn to speak, supported by the others, and then all could come together in a symphony of sound from different perspectives. All playing off each other, all learning from each other and absorbing the experience of others. 

The left in Scotland this year - the left I am part of - has crashed and shrieked and instruments have been used as weapons. Unfortunately the orchestra is at present divided into different melodies and beats. The various sections are not listening to each other. Some are pretending to. Some are ready to create their own 5 piece.  The members MUST become social. They must become Freirian. The basis of a great orchestra is experience plus new ideas. Without both sections the social music becomes discordant and shrill, and no one listens.


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