Barry Green’s new book,
Bringing Music to Life is now available.
World-class bassist and best-selling author Barry Green has spent his life learning and showing others how to bring music to life. In this innovative, imaginative text he shares what he has discovered since his groundbreaking book, The Inner Game of Music, inspired over 250,000 musicians to reach their potential in performance and learning.
Three distinct sections delve deeply into the methodology, techniques, and inspiration required to energize and enliven music making for amateurs and professionals alike. Green reaches inside to recount life-changing experiences and outside to friends and fellow musicians who have discovered how to create joy and excitement in performance.
Reviews of Bringing Music to Life
Barry Green has written a most remarkable new book that I would like to share with you. The title is “Bringing Music to Life”. In this book, Barry shares essential and practical tools for bringing your own music to life. Many of us at Music for People have had the opportunity to create music with Barry at one of the many MFP workshops he has attended over the years. In this book he shares his experiences as he explores the realm of improvisational music making as well as looking at and experiencing a wide variety of tools for becoming a vibrant, imaginative, and inspired musician. Here are some excerpts from his book providing readers with an over view of it’s contents:
“In part 1, the first chapter is called Recapturing the Child and is about returning to that youthful spirit of life and music. Chapter 2 is a Recipe for Inspiration, and reveals a physical “template” for the expressive artist. I will tell you about the great bassist Rufus Reid and the impact one of his performances had on me; about a conference I attended where a group of fiddlers played classical and Irish folk fiddle; and about my own personal journey studying free improvisation with David Darling. Chapter 3, Finding the Pathway, chronicles the five years of developing a methodology for bringing music to life. As a work in progress never ends, it is a pathway that led to many exciting discoveries concerning refining and articulating the illusive elements that allow music to become alive.
Part II presents the three techniques of Breath (voice) chapter 4, Pulse (Rhythm) chapter 5, and Movement (Body) chapter 6. I offer many activities that we can do at our own pace and in our own way to develop and integrate these three body-based skills. You will hear many experts from the world of voice, rhythm and movement share their insights to better understand of how we can embrace their disciplines and incorporate them into our own performances. I hope you will be overwhelmingly convinced that these three skills are so essential to the essence of bringing music to life that you will continue to develop them in your own way.
Part III is directly devoted to our ultimate goal: the world of inspiration…”
In the final section of the book, Barry has three chapters that include The Complete Package, Being in the Moment- It’s You! and Chasing the Rainbow.
As you might imagine, the Being in the Moment-It’s You! chapter features quotes from many people in the Music for People community including Julie Weber, Lynn Miller, Ron Kravitz, Mindi Turin, Heather Keller, Jane Buttars, myself and of course David Darling.
I would like to share some segments from these chapters with you:
Chapter 2: “I saw there was a direct link between musicians whose who being, both soul and body, moved with the flow of the rhythm, and the audience they were playing for. And those musicians whose bodies were not in touch with the rhythm of the music weren’t touching their audience either. Once I noticed this powerful relationship between and audience and those performers who integrate their body (Breath, Pulse and Movement) into their music making, I began to look for it everyone. I watched jazz, chamber music orchestral, and choral and band concerts at all levels of music making and all ages. And I found the same relationship of the BODY involvement and power of music. ”
Chapter 6: “When the inspiration comes ‘FIRST through the body–rather than from the printed page or the brain–you really notice the difference–I assure you. The music springs to life immediately. ..I’m convinced that if you watch any great artist who is making music come alive, you will see physical energy and body movement. Movement taps directly into the heart and soul. The performer’s body speaks directly to the listener’s body and has the power to move us on many levels.
Chapter 9: “The ‘allure’ of the rainbow, the beauty of the sunset, a giant grove of tall redwoods, the vast endless horizon seen across ocean waterfalls, great mountains and rivers–all remind us of our humble human existence on this grand planet Earth. I believe that when we resonate with nature, when we resonate with other artists–both those in our own lives and those who have come before us–we affirm our existence through our songs and movements.”
“The greatest musicians on this planet are also the greatest students. They never stop learning, they are constantly reinventing themselves. …Notice the rhythms in nature and music. Become a student of your inner silence. Love the silence, and follow its direction. Then jam, scat, move and groove! Bringing it to life!”
Throughout this book, Barry also includes quotes from people of many varied creative arts disciplines, here are just a few: “When we sing without words, first just following the breath, then the sound of a sigh, and then the song, our journey leads us with the energy of emotion into a place of clarity and integration; a reunion with our true nature.” – Susan Osbourne
“The human impetus to make sound is fundamental for life. What causes a baby to coo? What’s the instinct that makes us want to sound out the beginning of an Aa or Ee or Oooo…before it becomes a note, before it has rhythm? ………I love it that the voice makes an imprint on the breath which gives us individuality from the moment we are born. It embosses our breath with personality as well as information. It is the way a baby says I am.” – Don Campbell
“ When you learn to speak a rhythmic pattern you can transfer it to your hands…..It is the best possible interface between the instruments and myself.” – Bob Becker, percussionist from Nexus
“We move our audiences the way the music first moves us. So the musician’s emotions must be fully available to the music- but since the body is much more intelligent than the conceptual mind, there has to be an emotional, kinesthetic response. The body is supremely intelligent in terms of guiding itself within a musical flow, but one has to surrender completely to the music.” – Alan Scofield, dancer
Barry’s newest book, “Bringing Music to Life” is a wonderful guide for anyone seeking to move more deeply into their sound and music. As you read this book, you will find tools and activities to try that will assist you in finding new ways to access your truly soulful sound. Throughout this book we are reminded that the essence of music exists in breath, pulse and movement and that each of these are essential and integral aspects of fully alive music making. I highly recommend this wonderful book to anyone who seeks to discover their most profound musician within, enjoy the journey! I would like to leave you with two more quotes from Bringing Music to Life: one is from David Darling as he talks about silence, the other from Al Huang as he speaks about inspiration:
“As we sit in silence, we are listening to the sound of the universe. At the moment we are called to action- to poetry, speech, song or rhythm- we are already in a profound relationship with life.
It is a matter of welcoming that exciting moment, a moment of human dialogue with nature and the universe. We are never soloists, you know, silence is our duet partner- we are always playing a duet with silence- it is our way in.”
– David Darling
“Reach up to the sky. As you reach up, remember to allow the energy to come down into you and bring you inspiration. If you reach for it and are open to it, it will come to you. The opposite way is to bring energy up from the earth, a grounding energy, and then all around you there’s the middle, the human energy. Gather all of these energies into yourself, and you will never burn out.” – Chungliang Al Huang, Tai Chi Master, poet, educator and dancer
Many thanks to Barry for writing this very practical yet incredibly inspiring book!
by Mary Knysh for Connections Magazine,
Official Journal of Music for People, www.musicforpeople.org
“Bringing Music to Life”, in Barry Green’s words, is about “pouring yourself, body and soul, into your music-making so that the music you make truly comes alive”. (p.3) Green, world-class bassist, educator, and best-selling author (“Inner Game of Music”) takes upon himself the formidable task of identifying that quality in music-making which most of us accept as beyond analysis: that elusive quality which we call “musical” or “inspired”. Green guides the reader on his journey of discovery, as he pursues that enigmatic quality, breaks it down into its components of Breath, Pulse, and Movement, then examines how one can develop it in one’s own performances as well as pass it on to others. A huge task, which he handles well, employing humor and passion and statistics, introducing the reader to an alluring array of artists along the way.
The volume is divided into three sections. Green first describes his methodology, then analyzes the techniques of Breath, Pulse, and Movement. In the final section “Inspiration”, Green cautions that while this is neither easy nor guaranteed, musical magic may result when “preparation” is combined with “passion”: when Breath, Pulse, and Movement have been balanced and integrated into a single flow of energy. Sprinkled throughout are not only amazing quotes from luminous performers and educators, but also useful Exercises followed by probing Reflections.
While any musician might find this book fascinating, it could find its most appreciative audience among those musicians who feel stale in their music-making, and among teachers searching for new ideas to energize and inspire their students . One can only be moved by Green’s passion to change lives, his eagerness to share his recent discoveries with readers. The result is an energizing, joyful, persuasive, and spiritual read.
Nancy Bjork, double bass, maintains a private studio of pre-college bass students in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she also functions as an active free-lancer. She has organized many bass workshops and master classes, she and her students have presented sessions at both ISB and ASTA national conventions, and a number of her students have gone on to develop distinguished careers as professional bassists.
Nancy Bjork for American String Teacher Journal
Music is magical! That moment when mind, spirit and body integrate into making music is forever memorable. When we experience it, we strive to make it happen again. If we haven’t experienced it, we search for it. In his latest book, Barry Green bares his soul, and shares insights about his quest to bring music to life.
Facilitating the magic should be an emphasis in every lesson we teach, and Green gives us plenty of activities and food for thought to make it happen. Green, a respected professional musician and teacher, is now a learner of improvisation and body awareness through David Darling’s Music for People workshops and Eastern disciplines. Whereas his Inner Game of Music helped develop mental skills of concentration, his new book brings us body awareness techniques that integrate the mental and emotional to bring music to life.
The book is divided into three parts with three chapters each. It includes a good list of resources and bibliography and a detailed table of contents that can substitute for a lack of index. In Part 1 he helps us move from the realm of the intellect to the emotional in making music.
In Part 2 he gives techniques to experience three core elements—breath, pulse and movement—to enrich performance. Green says training in movement and improvisation goes with being a performing artist and needs to be normal and universal for our craft.
In Part 3 on inspiration, he suggests viewing outstanding YouTube performances from artists such as the Kronos Quartet, and Gustavo Dudamel’s Venezuelan orchestra. He advises us to follow our rainbows with honesty, sincerity, commitment and humility.
Green emphasizes the importance of bringing music to life through improvisation (hot music) and how it can affect our performance of classical music (cold music). He says, “One thing I’ve learned is this: music can be full to the brim of that special liveliness whether it’s scored or improvised, hot or cold—but we have to be alive, ourselves, to be making music in the moment.”
Although the book is suggest for musicians and non-musicians, it will be especially appreciated by those with the skill and passion to absorb themselves in music.
Green’s creative writing is fun to read. For instance, he compares the making of a good salad to the making of good music.
If you ‘live’ this book rather than ‘read’ it as Don Campbell admonishes us in the forward, you too will be inspired by Green’s artistic journey.
….reviewed by Sylvia Coats, NCTM, Wichita State University
October/November, 2009 MTNA Journal