Brick Wahl Keeping It Real: The Shape of Words To Come

Brick Wahl

By Brick Wahl

To me jazz and language are pretty much one and the same. Same rules, and same lack thereof. Everything you can do in jazz you can do with language. I listen to jazz players and words stream through my head with the music. Sometimes it’s visual – I can see the words pour out of the bell of a saxophone, weaving crazy narratives that match notes with words and fill the room with jazz and language. Maybe that’s not normal, I know, but I see it. Words and notes, melodies and narratives, syncopation and stress, meter and, well, meter. Back to the head, end of paragraph.

Language is this amazingly flexible thing you can just totally mess with. You can be as creative as you want with it. But people are so obsessed with using only the right words, the right grammar, the right spellings. But who the hell decides what is right? It changes every generation. A few years ago alright made people crazy. Before that it was altogether. Before that it was already. Just about every alsomething was all something, and people raged and raged but they died and the two words became one word as they mouldered in the grave unable to say a word in protest.


I say talk however you want. Write however you want. Even spell however you want. I say language is a living thing, not something dead and rulebound and not supposed to change ever. I think it is supposed to change always. It will change always, as it always has. I say everything your English teacher taught you was wrong.

Language is expression and language is jazz and jazz means freedom. What Ornette Coleman did with jazz, you can do with words.

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To read more of Brick Wahl’s essays on his web site click HERE.



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