Pop Culture
Nov 14, 2023, 06:27AM

Lord Have Mercy

A 1985 Guitar Player interview with jazz guitarist/composer John McLaughlin vs. a 2018 Office interview with jazz bassist/composer Esperanza Spalding.

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John McLaughlin: You start at the screen of the computer terminal with sine waves, which are added together to make up the harmonic spectrum of a sound.

Esperanza Spalding: Lord have mercy. It’s all very exciting. I’m just in awe.

McLaughlin: It varies. It’s all relative.

Spalding: I mean, athletes have known this for years, right?

McLaughlin: On the whole, no. We haven't gotten to Stravinsky or Bartok.


Spalding: Because we are mental and spiritual beings—we are in these vehicles, these amazing bodies that even if we’re not conscious of it, they are absorbing and responding to all stimulus.

McLaughlin: But a state of receptivity is nothing more than a state of awareness. Sometimes, if you get the right clue, you can unravel a great mystery.

Spalding: That’s the brain.

McLaughlin: Because it's a little wild, I think.

Spalding: Are you okay, and if not, what are we gonna do about it?


McLaughlin: I have an intellect, a heart, and a physical side, and I want to integrate all three to be whole. It sure beats the hell out of killing people.

Spalding: I think it’s both ways. Isn’t it fun?

McLaughlin: It's as if you're suddenly playing another instrument.

Spalding: Yeah. That can be awareness building, or fundraising, or having policy change, or getting votes toward a policy change, getting your representative to sign off on opposed legislation—whatever.

McLaughlin: That doesn't work with nylon strings because you have to pull too far to bend them; the density of nylon and steel is very different.


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