Collier’s Encyclopedia

As the immortal sage Yogi Berra once said, it’s hard to make predictions, particularly about the future. Still, I’d like to take a shot and say that music is going to play an increasingly large part in most people’s lives. An array of new tools, including AI, plus unlimited ways to listen (TikTok being just the latest star-maker), will make creating and consuming music easier than ever.

We can debate the effects of this another day, but for now, let’s also guess that at least some of this new breed of music lover will want to dive deeper and learn more about how music works and how their favorite music gets made. (We’ve already enjoyed a bit of this, thanks to our pal Scott Freiman’s Deconstructing the Beatles series.)

In that context, we’re also likely to see a new breed of educator who’ll speak to this new cohort: someone quite like Jacob Collier.

For starters, Collier is a prodigiously talented, genre-bending musician himself. Part of it is genetic. His mother, Suzie, a violinist and professor at the Royal Academy of Music, instilled a love for harmony and melody. Part of it is putting in the famous “10,000 hours.”

In 2013, Jacob’s split-screen video covers of popular songs, including Stevie Wonder’s Don’t You Worry ’bout a Thing, went viral on YouTube. His “one-man a capella band” arrangements and intricate harmonies won him fans around the world.

In the years since, he’s released several albums, won a few Grammys, and earned a reputation as a compelling live performer. (He often coaches the audience to sing harmonies or percussion parts, turning every concert into a communal musical experience. Plus, who can resist a cover of The Flintstones theme?)

His ambitious, multi-volume Djesse project features over two dozen artists. Each volume explores different musical textures.

He’s also earning justifiable praise as an educator, using the full array of social tools to help fans deepen their appreciation of the art form.

His “deconstruction” of Stevie Wonder’s Sir Duke is a perfect example. He makes possibly arcane concepts like chromaticism accessible and enjoyable. You’ll feel a little smarter, and a little cooler, after this:

He’s obviously a digital native, meeting people where they are, as in this Q&A from Wired:

And, for those of us who play a lot of wrong notes, there’s this bit of open-hearted encouragement:

We often hear stories about folks who gave up on their own musical education because of less-than-inspiring teachers. In this case, though, we can look forward to welcoming many more converts to musical geekdom thanks to instruction like this.

– Al Cattabiani

Photo: Harald Krichel, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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2 comments on “Collier’s Encyclopedia

  1. Mark Hudson

    A phenomenally talented musician. That was him playing piano with Joni at the Grammys.

    • When some folks wonder about declining musicianship in the next generations, he’s one of the easy rebuttals! An absolute colossus…

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