Aged 13, free jazz was something I couldn’t understand. It sounded to me like Iggy Pop’s description of punk rock: it sounded to me like “a load of trashy old noise”.
I hadn’t realised that it was in fact “the brilliant music of a genius”.
That genius, Ornette Coleman, is one of the key proponents of free jazz and the inventor of harmolodics, a music theory associated with the avant-garde music scene, dedicated to freeing composers and performers from the rigid structures and rules prevalent in the western tradition.
It is a theory employed in rock music too. Yes, this is about Royal Trux. Talking about harmolodics, Neil Hagerty says:
“harmolodics is not a comprehensive controlling or rigid philosophy (at least not to rock and roll) but almost a substitute for that language and efforts to control music (which is an entirely abstract thing) and make a metaphor of it. It returns the composition back to the musician and allows each musician to select functions for their labours rather than solicit a class of intervention because of the misconceptions that always arise when music meets commerce.”
Harmolodics, together with jazz as a whole, deserves recognition as one of the great gifts America has given to the world. It’s about music without the rules, and it sounds all the better for it. For me, its influence on Royal Trux’s music is magnificent: they forced me to listen to music in a new way. I still find it hard to completely understand it, but harmolodic theory lies behind some of my favourite music. So let’s hear it for Ornette Coleman and harmolodics!