Learning From The Best: Miles Davis

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This is part of a series of posts aiming to help myself, and other musicians, learn from the best.

My recommendation today: a 55 minute documentary about the making of Miles Davis' most popular album: Kind of Blue.

Kind of Blue, Celebrating a Masterpiece

Key Takeaways

While I highly encourage you to watch the whole documentary and enjoy the music, here's what I got out of it.

Keep It Spontaneous

Spontaneity is what makes music expressive and full of life.

How can I translate that in my own music making practice?

Whatever you can do in the music studio to keep the music alive and expressive, do it!

Try New Stuff

An empty blank canvas can be scary.

Part of the genius of Miles Davis may have been to create a solid framework in which the "justice league of jazz musicians" felt free to experiment and express themselves.

How can I translate that in my own music making practice?

You could go into the studio having chosen a song form or mode or chord progression in advance.

Then give yourself 30-60 minutes to improvise and try new things within that framework.

Don't Overcomplicate Things

As soon as you're in your head, you lose expression.

If you lose expression, you lose feeling.

If you lose feeling, chances are the music won't be very good.

How can I translate that in my own music making practice?

You could focus on your body while you're recording the music. Forget about the result for a while…. How does it feel?

How do you feel?

Are your hands light or numb? Do you feel rushed or slow? Are you forgetting to breathe?

Remember No One Has A Clue!

It's always a good reminder that, in the music studio, our role is to create.

Enjoy the process. Have fun!

Let the audience decide what they like best.



  1. Dan December 27, 2018 at 10:27 pm - Reply

    The players were definitely the “Justice League”. Kind of Blue is one of my favorite albums. Over my time playing I’ve gotten more focused on simplicity and clarity as Miles was so excellent at.

    • Joyce Kettering December 31, 2018 at 10:31 am - Reply

      Yes! It seems in music, less is often more. Need time for that silence 🙂

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