“Music is the divine way to tell beautiful, poetic things
to the heart..” ― Pablo Casals
“Music acts like a magic key, to which the most tightly
closed heart opens.” ― Maria von Trapp

Story telling is really what psychoanalysis is all about. In music too, every composer has a story to tell. For instance when Jim Hall was growing up, each morning he heard a man in the alley of his housing project, calling out what he thought were the words “paper x.” It turned out that the peddler with a middle eastern accent was saying “paper – rags,” and so Jim composed a piece called Ragman.

This piece tells the Ragman’s story using the string section of an orchestra to set the scene for saxophonist Joe Lovano who joins Jim in telling the Ragman’s tale.. Listen for the spaces and feel their impact. Listen for the harmonies and feel their emotional tug. Picture the Ragman and listen to the wind. (I picture my patients’ descriptions visually.)

Jim talked a lot about other instruments and music in general… it wasn’t just about the guitar. It was about using the guitar as a means to get at whatever music you’re hearing in your head, which could be a whole orchestra. Jim began his book on guitar instruction with the words: “listening is key.” Also, Jim liked the saxophone and other instruments almost more than the guitar – and his compositions reflected that. It’s like we analysts, who listen not just to the patient’s voice and words, but to the whole situation – including and especially our own feelings that are evoked.

When we were in Antigua on vacation Jim wrote a song called “Down from Antigua” – we wanted to deduct part of the trip on our income tax. Anyway, when he performed it in a concert or club he asked the audience to picture the island and make up their own story. Listen to the changes in texture and dynamics.

Here are the two stories told through music.

⇐Return to the Jazz gallery

2 thoughts on “Storytelling

  1. Mark F. Poster

    Beautiful selections, Jane.

    In the labyrinth of the unconscious, Ariadne’s thread helps us find our way-
    To Sheldon Roth (Psychotherapy: The Art of Wooing Nature, 1987) it is the transference.
    To Marilyn Charles (Psychoanalysis and Literature, 2015) it is the metaphor of narrative.
    To Jane Hall, it is the metaphor of jazz music.

    Whatever helps find our way.

    1. jane hall

      Thank you Mark. Without duets, whether in conversation at the grocery store or in intellectual circles, we would be lost. Freud gave us psychoanalysis and tho many of his followers became rigid and doctrinaire, many emulate his humane and caring attitude and the later keep us going.


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