Music, Meaning, and Modern Art: Part 2 of 3

Two Birds — By Wassily Kandinski, 1907 — Public Domain.

Exercising Your Imagination

Look at Kandinsky’s woodcut of Two Birds (1907) above and:

Jazz Can Be More Abstract

Jazz, especially when it’s instrumental and doesn’t have lyrics, can be much more abstract than most folk, rock, and folk-rock. Take, for example, some of the music by John Coltrane.

John Coltrane — Alabama

John Coltrane — “Trane” — wrote the song Alabama in 1963.

Ray Charles and John Coltrane — from .

John Coltrane — A Love Supreme

The passion Coltrane felt for the African-American civil rights movement
surfaces fully a couple of years later, in his magnum opus, A Love Supreme.

John Coltrane — cover of A Love Supreme. Fair use.

Miles Davis — On Trane, A Love Supreme, and Civil Rights

In his autobiography, Miles Davis offers extremely high praise for John Coltrane’s work on this album and others he recorded during that time. Miles also provides valuable insight into both what John was saying with his music in the mid-to-late 1960s and how the African American community reacted to his message.

Miles: The Autobiography — cover of the book written with Quincy Troupe.

BYO Meaning: Filling in Coltrane’s Blanks

Truly appreciating A Love Supreme requires a knowledge of some American history. The web and your local library provide access to a lot of this information, totally for free.

Visualizing Racism: The Americans and Heretic

What does racism look like? A couple of works — one each in Modern Photography and Modern Dance — can answer that question quite well.

Cover of The Americans — By Robert Frank, 1958. Fair use.
Cover of Rotten: No Irish — No Blacks — No Dogs — By John Lydon, 1994. Fair use.

So What?

Ok so abstractions are important in music, painting, and other art forms. So What?!?

So What — Live at The Robert Herridge Theater, New York, April 2, 1959 — By Miles Davis, 1959.

Hello, My Name Is…

Hello, my name is Tom Hartung and I am the creator of and


Thank you for reading this article!

Bonus Epic Song!

For an epic song about exclusion, listen to and watch this medley of two songs, Cryptical Envelopment -> The Other One — by The Grateful Dead.

Cryptical Envelopment -> The Other One — by The Grateful Dead (Live 5/3/1968 at Columbia University).



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Tom W. Hartung

Tom W. Hartung

Founder of and , my passion is drawing personalities. I am a Full SDLC Consultant and run several websites out of my home.