Bass player Victor Wooten speaks on Music as a Language at TEDxGabriolaIsland. Below is the full transcript.
Listen to the MP3 Audio here: Music as a Language by Victor Wooten at TEDxGabriolaIsland
Well, thank you very much. And it’s true I was born into a band. And very literally — I mean that literally — when I was born, my four older brothers who were already playing music, they knew that they needed a bass player to round out the family band. And so I was born into that role and as I’m older I’m looking back right now, now that I’m kind of called a teacher.
When I look back on that and how I was taught, I realized that I wasn’t really “taught” — which is why I say that music is a language. Because if you think about your first language, for me and probably most of us here might be English, so I’m just going to go with English.
If you think about how you learned it, you realize you weren’t taught it. People just spoke to you. But the coolest thing is where it gets interesting is because you were allowed to speak back.
Now if I take the music example, in most cases, our beginners are not allowed to play with the better people. You’re stuck in the beginning class. You have to remain there a few years, until you are elevated to the intermediate and then advanced. And after you graduate to advanced class you still have to go out and pay a lot of dues.
But with language, to use a musical term, even as a baby you’re jamming with professionals, all the time — to the point that you don’t even know you’re a beginner. No one says, “I can’t talk to you until you got to go over there. When you’re older, then I can speak to you.” It doesn’t happen. No one tells you what you have to say. You’re not made to sit in a corner and practice. You’re never even corrected when you’re wrong.