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Albert Murray and 3 Kinds of Art

Three Kinds of Art

Author, musician and educator Greg Thomas turned me on to the teachings of  jazz/cultural critic Albert Murray. 

Starting at minute 20 of the video linked above, Thomas presents Murray’s three types of art within the genre of jazz:

  1. FOLK ART is exemplified by the BLUES (B.B. King). Strong emotional valence, very expressive and technically basic.
  2. POP ART is accessible to and embraced by masses of people. An example is SWING MUSIC (Bennie Goodman). It’s “here today and gone tomorrow.” It’s lasting value is questionable.
  3. FINE ART combines deep feeling and powerful technique. An example is BEBOP (Charlie Parker)

Kirtan is Folk Art

How is this relevant to Kirtan?

I see Kirtan as a folk art: technically simple with deep expression. This is a musical/spiritual practice for the people.

The Bhakti Movement in 15th Century India gave regular folks the mantras and invited them to “mash up” the mantras with their FOLK music. There was no requirement that they attend school for Indian Classical Music prior to stepping into this practice. And, no need to have a single at the top of the pop charts.

Kirtan is for everyone.


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