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What IS music? 6 amazing artists break it down!

What IS music?


Kat Dyson

- Music is therapy. Music is meditation. Music is an exercise in discipline.

But most of all music is freedom.

Music has the same color as the air. You can close your eyes but you can’t close your ears.

If you play it well,that’s the only thing that matters


Joey DeFrancesco

- The world would be a mistake without music. Whatever you’re doing everything is so much easier with earphones. And rhythm is all around us.


Alvin Queen

- Music to me is life. Music is spirituality. Music is me telling a story. I believe in a creator and in carrying a message. I believe in reaching out to people with an open heart and mind. Not everybody has that.

We all learn by going back. We don’t listen to our parents until we see what they talk about. If you get lost you go back to the basics and realize that it doesn’t matter how modern a building is, it still needs a foundation or it will fall down.


Steve Coleman

- Music is just a sonic expression of me – of us – who are playing it. I usually play in a group, and then music is a sonic expression of us in the group. It’s an expression of what we are interested in, and of what we like and don’t like – cosmically, spiritually politically, nutritionally etc. It’s an expression of what’s going on. Everything that we are – that’s what music is to me. It’s the same way that Charlie Parker would describe it. I have heard that generation express this the same way: Music is an expression of what we see. Someone from Germany doesn’t see the same things as someone from Mississippi. And even with modern technology actually being somewhere physically is going to be a lot different to having international contacts on your phone.


Lonnie Liston Smith

- Music is life. People don’t realize that music is the only universal language that we have. Music helps people feel better, and music can heal people.

From Day 1 my life was all music. It was the whole thing, and there was never any doubt about what I would do in life. My father was a famous gospel performer and there were always famous musicians coming to our house. For me that was natural, something I took for granted.


Randy Brecker

- Music to me is a combination of sound, rhythm, melody and harmony – and I guess we have to add technology too now – organized by a human.

People are programming AI to compose and arrange music in the future. I’m not a fan of that as you can imagine

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How it first began...

   How do people first connect with music? Discover how. This is what a few of the contributors to this site said on this topic.

   When you read it you might realize that two of the most important people in this perspective could very well be our parents... And it may just be some food for thought to those out there who are parents to young children now, when music might have taken a back seat to other things that go on in their homes.

T.K. Blue

TK Blue:
 - There were several factors that influenced my early attraction to the saxophone. I used to listen to James Brown as a teenager and I love Maceo Parker on alto sax. I used to pretend that I was playing those sax solos with “The Godfather of Soul”.

Kris Bowers

Kris Bowers:
 - My parents got me started in music. They aren’t musicians, but they put me in lessons when I was 4 or 5. They let me try other things as well besides music.

Lige Curry

Lige Curry:
 - When you are a kid you are trying to figure it out. I had relatives who thought that I should get into sports and others who thought I should be a doctor. But my auntie, one of my mother’s sisters, got me a toy guitar and she was right. I started playing with it like I did with the rest of my toys, but the guitar was more interesting.

Joey DeFrancesco

Joey DeFrancesco:
 - It definitely meant a lot that I grew up in a musical family – it’s why I play music! It is also why I play the organ. I got the love for it at home. If I hadn’t been around it I wouldn’t have known about it.

Jennifer Johns

Jennifer Johns:
 - My parents say that I was singing before I could speak. As a child I sang with my dad, who was my first voice-coach.

Steven Kroon

Steven Kroon:
 - At a very early age I became paralized by the music on the radio. My older brother Bobby started playing before me, and I chose to follow in his footsteps. He was a great inspiration to me and my first mentor.
When our parents discovered that we wanted to play musical instruments, they went and bought us our first drums, and were happy to let us practice in the basement.
I often tell people that music chose me. I felt like lightening struck me the first time I heard music coming out of the radio. From then on it was love at first sight.

David Murray

David Murray:
 - Music was always in front if me.  My mother was a pianist and the director of music in a church, where she played the organ and piano, and directed the choir. My father played the guitar. I started taking piano lessons at five years old, for a local piano teacher. I started playing saxophone at nine. My brother played the clarinet by then.

Bria Skonberg

Bria Skonberg:
 - My family were supporters of music, and there were musical instruments around the house. My brother played the fiddle. I picked up the trumpet in 7th grade, and then I joined the school band.

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Joey DeFrancesco: - The world would be a mistake without music

Musicians' Corner's interview with Joey DeFrancesco

Joey DeFrancesco

An article with Joey DeFrancesco.  Photo:

   It definitely meant a lot that I grew up in a musical family – it’s why I play music! It is also why I play the organ. I got the love for it at home. If I hadn’t been around it I wouldn’t have known about it. I even got interested in repairing Hammond Organs. When I was ten we had to get a service technician in, and it was really expensive. After that I learnt how to pick an organ apart and put it back together again. I’m often able to help people fix problems with their Hammond Organs.

Joey DeFrancesco Trio live in 2015

   To me the Hammond Organ is magical. They are handmade and no two organs sound alike. They all have personalities.
I have always been doing what I have been doing, you know. I didn’t stop to pay much attention to what people thought about it. And I always had great piers and people around.

   I met Miles Davis in Philadelphia, where I come from. He was on a morning show on TV where my band had been called in to play. He heard us play one chord, and then he stopped the band. I was wondering if I was going to be embarrassed, but he asked me for my name and called me eight months later.

Joey DeFrancesco


   I learnt so many things playing with Miles and being around him. I was very much a traditional jazz player when I started playing with him, and he knew that hiring me. He would talk to me about Charlie Parker, John Coltrane and Dizzy Gillespie. He showed me a lot of things, like the importance of space in music. And hearing that trumpet in my ear all the time made me want to play the trumpet. That was when I got a trumpet and learnt how to play it. And when Miles heard me play he handed me his horn. He said “You sound just like me”. He just embraced the whole thing, and gave me mouthpieces, and made me play in front of other artists.

Joey DeFrancesco with Miles Davis' band, live in Poland 1988

   I played with him for six months. I had just finished my first record, and the record company basically told me that I had to leave Miles’ band. He was hurt but he understood. After that we hung out. When he played his last concert at Montreux in 1991 I was there with my band. I carried his horn for him, and went to his hotel to see him. He was so nervous, saying how he hadn’t played Gil Evans’ music in thirty-three years. He was so humble. And at that concert he played so beautifully it was unbelievable.  He was so special, and in the later part of his life mellower. I hear a lot of stories, but they are not about the Miles I knew.

   What makes a great artist is all kinds of things, but the biggest thing is the feel. Technique is secondary. A lot of people don’t have a lot of technique but they play their hearts out. Like Miles said it can take a lifetime to learn to play like yourself.

Joey DeFrancesco Trio

Joey DeFrancesco Trio including Jason Brown - drums & Dan Wilson - guitar


   I am always working. I have melodies in my head 24/7. I have my music room and I go in there several times a day. Just now I have almost finished some modifications to my organ. Next my trio is playing in Florida on March 12. And in the next few months I’m touring in Indonesia, the US and Europe, after which I will go into the studio in June to hopefully record my next project. And you’d better believe that I’m always happy playing music. I’m thrilled to get behind the instrument. Before a gig I wonder “Are we going to play yet?”, checking the time. All the great musicians that I know are like that. I like playing music with people who can go anywhere musically at the drop of a hat, and we don’t label the music. I am not a jazz musician, I am a musician, and we go anywhere when we play.

   The world would be a mistake without music. Whatever you’re doing everything is so much easier with earphones. And rhythm is all around us.

Joey DeFrancesco Trip Mode album cover
Joey DeFrancesco's latest record

Joey DeFrancesco is a Grammy-nominated organist and trumpeter, who has released thirty+ albums and played with a large number of luminairies in music, since he first signed his first record deal at the age of 16. Find out more HERE.

TimeOut Bill Bogg's TV-show/interview with Miles Davis - with Joey DeFrancesco on the show's band:

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