#42: The Tenor Saxophone

All being well, at the moment of this blog’s publication, both my saxophone and I should be in Amsterdam. We will have crossed from North Shields to Ijmuiden port, travelling over 493 km of sea. I just hope my sax has his sea legs on.

In her last blog, Katie wrote about her two passports and the concept of borders. If I were to say one thing had the possibility to be universal, to travel in between, over and under borders; to pass right through them, and still provoke a response, an understanding, I think that thing might be music.

Because as clichéd as this sounds, music is a universal language. It requires no knowledge of grammar or vocabulary, not even the theoretical understanding of clefs or chords, to be understood. It need only be listened to.

For this reason, it is especially fitting that as I write this, watching the lights of the north east reflect onto the water that will carry me to Amsterdam, I find out that on the way home we are going to play a gig in the ship’s bar.

My saxophone will make music as we travel across the sea, as we literally cross over borders, as we occupy the space in between.

One of my favourite things about playing music is bringing my own skill and interest to a wide variety of audiences. Playing music for people connects you, with each tap of the foot, each smile, each mouthed lyric, perhaps even each dance, the differences and barriers between you are surpassed.

This is one of the reasons why I love busking, something we are going to do in Amsterdam. The only thing connecting you with your audience is that you happen to occupy the same space at the same time. They may have never even thought to listen to a jazz band before, never mind pay the price of a concert ticket, but as they stroll past, shopping or commuting or just wandering, they do. And if all it does is make their stride match the rhythm of the music, then you have established that connection. For a moment, you are both speaking the same language.

So as my phone drops out of signal and the duty-free opens, I prepare to take our music across borders and hopefully make someone smile.


For more musings on music, read Katie’s blog about her violin here.

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