Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The purpose of the blue note in jazz is to give voice to pain. There are three blue notes: flatted 3rd, flatted 5th and flatted 7th. Bluest of the blue notes is the flatted 5th. Miles Davis perfected it. It is the note that when heard on its own creates dissonance. It resists resolve and in doing so it also awakens us to our own shattered hopes and dreams. This is part of its charm. It disorients and sometimes irritates, but when blended with the larger score, it gives voice to the longing for healing that is associated with pain. Kathleen O' Connor said, "The first condition for healing is to bring the pain and suffering into view."

Of course, the first condition of healing is not the final condition of healing. To give voice to pain is to run the risk of getting stuck there. We can easily become defined by our own wounds and go about the business of wounding ourselves and others accordingly. However, to deny the blue note is to suffer the same fate. Denial of pain is a dangerous as getting stuck in it. Both lead to violence. The Gospel assures us that there is a way forward but it is always the way of the wound.
Kris Rocke. Center for Transforming Mission.


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