WHAT IS M-BASE?
WHAT IS M-BASE?
For those who
asked, this page is here to discuss what M-Base is and what it is not.
What M-Base is not:
•An acronym for some
kind of computer language or computer talk.
•A musical style.
•A name made up to fool
critics into writing about musicians who claim to "play" M-Base.
•A card carrying
society with members who pay dues.
•An excuse to claim
that you are different than other musicians.
•A name that you can
call your music in order to get more gigs.
•An excuse to play odd
•An indication that you
do not like the music of Wynton Marsalis or musicians associated with
•An excuse to ignore
chords or to think of chord progressions as irrelevant.
What M-Base is:
•An acronym for Macro -
Basic Array of Structured Extemporizations. For us this means
expressing our experiences through music that uses improvisation and
structure as two of its main ingredients. There is no limitation on the
kind of structures or the type of improvisation, or the style of the
music. The main goal is to creatively express our experiences as they
are today and to try and build common creative musical languages in
order to do this on some kind of large collective level (macro, basic,
•Music critics have
constantly stated that M-Base is a musical style and this is not true.
Since the beginning of time critics have by and large been unable to
deal with any creative expression. M-Base is a way of thinking about
creating music, it is not the music itself. One of the main ideas in
M-Base is growth through creativity. As we learn through our
experiences then the music will change and grow to reflect that. The
idea is not to develop some musical style and to play that forever.
•This mostly involves
conceptual growth as opposed to technical growth, although that is
necessary also. All of the elements in the music come from life
experiences. Speaking for myself, when people hear my music they are
listening to a musical expression of how I view the world limited by my
musical abilities at that point in time. What makes the music change is
a broadening (or change) in the way I view things (perspective or
philosophy) or learning more about how to express this point of view
through music (for me this means becoming a better musician) or both. I
am not playing from the point of view of developing something
"different" as any individual is already unique and all that is left is
learning to express that (through music or whatever).
•The conception of
M-Base is in many ways a non-western conception of how to use music to
express experience. For example, for me the western concepts of time
signatures (including so called "common" and "odd time signatures")
largely do not exist and have no place in creating music. These
concepts come from European art music and the concepts of M-Base are
based primarily on music from Afrika and creative music of the Afrikan
Diaspora (where in the last 76 years there has been a steady
progression to use non- western concepts as a basis for the music).
This music is unique primarily in the areas of spiritual, rhythmic and
melodic development. It is the spiritual component that is most often
misunderstood (and this affects the way the other elements are viewed).
In this M-Base is no different than many other creative perspectives
that have come before.
•Finally the concept of which style is better than another style has no place here. Since the goal is the expression of culture and philosophy, there is no "better". There is only the perspective of the person experiencing the music and what this person hears is largely shaped by his/her own experience. In other words what the listener "hears" depends on who that listener is. The same music can be experienced many different ways by different people. For example when I hear the music of Charlie Parker and I discuss this music with another musician, despite the fact that Bird's music is well known at this time, I can rarely find agreement with other musicians (especially musicians under the age of about 45) on how we view Parker's music. I mean, it's not even close! Who a musician is (I mean who personally, spiritually and culturally) plays a large role in how he/she views music and how they are trained also plays a large role.