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Michaels Philosophy and Approach to Music???

Discussion in 'Ask Steve Lawson & Michael Manring' started by Robert McVey, Oct 28, 2012.

  1. Since i was a teenager i have explored music by various means. I've played the bass since i was 13 and mainly listened to rock and heavy metal at that time (Geddy Lee, Steve Harris, Chris Squire, John Paul Jones were my mentors). When i was sixteen i worked in a surf shop with a bunch of college kids and one of them played bass in the Jazz ensemble. He asked, "have you ever heard Jaco Pastorius???" I went Wherehouse records and bought his self titled album on cassette. That changed everything for me. It opened up my perspective of music. I later discovered Marcus Miller, Charles Mingus, Dave Holland, Bootsy Collins, Jonas Hellborg... I obsessively collected music with emphasis on the bass. At times i would go to Tower Records and buy random stuff just to discover new music. I realized that a lot of what was categorized as jazz was not at all jazz, but it seemed that there were too many styles to separate and that maybe it was just easier to put it all in the jazz category.
  2. I discovered the New Age section at Tower Records and bought the album Breakfast in the field by Michael Hedges. The Funky Avocado is the first time that i heard Michael Manring. I looked up his name in the credits and bought Towards the Center of the Night. I was blown away. I didn't really dig the whole New Age thing too much since i was more of a rocker at the time, but i kept that album with me all the time and bought all of the windham hill recordings i could find with him on them. It was funny because i knew nothing about the E-Bow, Zon Hyper Basses or how in the world he was making the bass sound that way. It was like magic...
  3. In the past 20+ years I have discovered so much music, Jazz, Judaica, Klezmer, Hindustani Indian, Electronic, Fusion, Bluegrass, Folk, Free Form, experimental... So much that I can't narrow down to a particular favorite. I played in a Fusion type instrumental band with a strong emphasis on Miles Davis, John Scofield, Garage a Trios styles... A lot of our influences. Now i'm pretty much a hobbiest and don't really stress on my chops too much. I approach music through a need to express and improvisation. I am not a religious person, but approach music as a spiritual outlet.

    My curiosity, after seeing Michael play and through the years hearing the varied styles of which he plays make me wonder... In reference to his intimate solo material, is he approaching music as a spiritual outlet???

    If not, what is his approach to music??? What is his philosophy???

    It would be interesting to know
  4. Clef_de_fa


    Dec 25, 2011
  5. Thanks. Good question and it kind of narrowed it down to specifics of his approach to the bass. I can relate to how the bass feels like home to him. One thing that i wondered is, maybe not just with Michael, but in general are there people who approach there instrument, pick it up and play without considering a song, the key they are in, minus theory just to play, to speak through it spontaneously. I know that there are many, but don't know them personally, don't know their philosophy. I've been drawn to a lot of Indian music (Ravi Shankar, Shakti, Zakir Hussain). Ravi Shankar's approach seems to be very spiritual, like a meditation with every note and always spontaneous. John Mclaughlin's approach seems very spiritual on the guitar both are relative. Maybe it is an eastern philosophy train of thought. I have read some literature by Hazrat Inayat Khan. Music to him was very spiritual and i can imagine stuff that he played in his time was pretty amazing...

  6. Michael Manring

    Michael Manring TalkBass Pro Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Thanks so much for your very kind words and your intriguing question, Robert -- perhaps the most intriguing question someone can ask about music!

    While I can tell you I do think of music as a spiritual exercise, if you ask me the logical follow up questions about what that means, I'll struggle to find an adequate response. The more time I spend working with music the more impressed I am with how deeply intertwined it is with human experience. Music seems to meet me at every level of emotion, thought, sensation, reflection, hope, striving, etc. I find the depth of music certainly mysterious and possibly miraculous. While my experience as a musician has given me reasonable confidence in offering advice on the mechanics of music and bass playing, I don't feel qualified to comment with authority on the deeper, more compelling, and yet more ephemeral aspects of the art form. So perhaps it's best if I maintain a Wittgensteinian silence!

    Regarding Indian music, it's a particular interest of mine. There may be folks here better equipped to discuss this than I, but from what I understand all that music is literally spiritual in that it's all based on Hindu theology. Both the Indian classical traditions (hindustani and carnatic) are rooted in the voice, so that when you hear an instrumentalist such as Ravi Shankar playing classical music, they are always playing an instrumental version of a piece originally composed to be sung and the lyrics, as far as I know, are always sacred in nature.

    I think it may be useful here to point out that while much of that music may seem free floating and spontaneous, it's actually very highly organized and in fact, may be the most rule-oriented music there is. It's fascinating stuff and I encourage anyone who's really serious about studying music to look into it.