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Tragic Genius: Quotes from John Coltrane

Updated on October 4, 2008

All a musician can do is to get closer to the sources of nature, and so feel that he is in communion with the natural laws.

I think I was first awakened to musical exploration by Dizzy Gillespie and Bird. It was through their work that I began to learn about musical structures and the more theoretical aspects of music.

You can play a shoestring if you're sincere.

Damn the Rules, it's the Feeling that Counts. You play all twelve notes in your solo anyway.

I never even thought about whether or not they understand what I'm doing . . . the emotional reaction is all that matters as long as there's some feeling of communication, it isn't necessary that it be understood.

There is never any end . . . There are always new sounds to imagine; new feelings to get at. And always, there is the need to keep purifying these feelings and sounds so that we can really see what we've discovered in its pure state.

There are so many things to be considered in making music. The whole question of life itself . . . I know that I want to produce beautiful music, music that does things to people that they need.

Over all, I think the main thing a musician would like to do is give a picture to the listener of the many wonderful things that he knows of and senses in the universe. . . That's what I would like to do. I think that's one of the greatest things you can do in life and we all try to do it in some way. The musician's is through his music.

Sometimes I wish I could walk up to my music for the first time, as if I had never heard it before. Being so inescapably a part of it, I'll never know what the listener gets, what the listener feels, and that's too bad.

My music is the spiritual expression of what I am - my faith, my knowledge, my being ... When you begin to see the possibilities of music, you desire to do something really good for people, to help humanity free itself from its hangups ... I want to speak to their souls.

Sometimes I'd think I was making music through the wrong end of a magnifying glass.

I'm into scales right now.

I've found you've got to look back at the old things and see them in a new light.

John Coltrane, jazz musician, composer, bandleader   (1926-1967)
John Coltrane, jazz musician, composer, bandleader (1926-1967)

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