A pioneer in the history of Jazz music, Miles Davis was a trumpeter, composer and bandleader. He is considered to be one of the most significant and celebrated people in the history of the genre and 20th century music altogether. He is known for his creative persona, which allowed him to keep moving his musical direction during a career that lasted five decades. His originality within Jazz also led to him becoming one of the major influences for other musical genres.
In addition to the extreme longitude of his career, he was also able to consistently remain a leader for many of the developments in style that Jazz was exposed to during his era. Furthermore, his ground-breaking album “Kind of Blue” released in 1959, is widely considered to be one of the most important Jazz albums of all time. Miles Davis has been awarded eight Grammy Awards, induction onto the Hollywood Walk of Fame and induction onto the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, alongside many other major awards.
Miles Davis Quotes
“Don’t play what’s there, play what’s not there.”
This almost acts as a metaphor for Miles Davis’ life. By looking at music (or life) from the perspective of what is missing, we allow ourselves to be creative and add value. Miles was an extremely creative musician and therefore was always trying to be ground-breaking in his art. He could do this by making sure he was ahead of his peers and looking at what he thought people hadn’t heard before. The lesson we can take from this is to focus on what we feel others need and how we can positively influence as many people as possible, using our skills. There will always be doubters regardless of what you produce, but you can’t let it stop you.
“I’m always thinking about creating. My future starts when I wake up every morning… Every day I find something creative to do with my life.”
Here we can see that Miles was very good at keeping himself in the present moment. When a person acts in a creative way, they can keep themselves focused on a task. Miles Davis actively looked for productive ways to spend his time and naturally this lead him towards his passions and other things that he deemed worthwhile. On the contrary, for many people it is hard to immerse fully in a task. This can be a problem because they can drift into thinking about the past or future possibilities. This is okay if the memories or visions are of a positive nature, but often they are not. Becoming fully present in a day as much as possible will enable people to progress themselves in their passions and generally feel better about themselves.
“Bebop was about change, about evolution. It wasn’t about standing still and becoming safe. If anybody wants to keep creating they have to be about change.”
Although here we can see that Miles is talking about Bebop, we can also understand that this was also his approach for his musical career. Miles Davis was always looking to push boundaries and introduce new musical ideas but at the same time, he was conscious not to alienate his audience. It is key that he refers to the word “evolution” which shows that he liked to keep core ideas and use these to progress his sound. As we already know, Miles was a creative individual, so it is no surprise that he spent a lot of his time working on new ideas to stay ahead of his competition. He clearly felt that it was riskier to stand still and not develop, than to change over time, even if people didn’t like his new ideas. Davis would generally prefer to take risks as they were more exciting to him and he could learn from performing them.
“It’s always been a gift with me, hearing music the way I do. I don’t know where it comes from, it’s just there and I don’t question it.”
Often you find that people have a bit of a natural gift or talent for something, but they decide not to pursue it. The difference with Miles was that he noticed he had a musical gift, and when he found it, he started to dedicate his time to it. As he started to dedicate time to his passion, he could see results and this caused him to continue working hard at his craft. With a positive spiral, he saw the fruits of his hard-work and this made him keep up his work-ethic. Sometimes we see people spending their time on activities which they have no passion for. When this happens, generally their performance is hindered and they can become stuck in a rut. For this scenario, it would be better to change the activity altogether. In contrast, it is okay if you have a passion for something but do not have the skill, because the important thing is that you enjoy it. When you enjoy a passion, it is easier to develop the skill.
“Knowledge is freedom and ignorance is slavery.”
Many people are familiar with the idea that ignorance is bliss and choose to adopt this attitude to their life. On the other side, Miles Davis felt that being ignorant to the information we need can leave us feeling enslaved. As a simple example, somebody may choose to be ignorant to the feelings of others but they are likely to become enslaved by a lack of friends. Miles felt that by expanding your knowledge and trying to learn everything that is important to you, it gives you a sense of freedom, because you can always rely on your knowledge to get yourself out of difficult situations. Knowledgeable people have more opportunities for freedom in their life and to be able to control the way they want to live.
“When I’m playing, I’m never through. It’s unfinished. I like to find a place to leave for someone else to finish it. That’s where the high comes in.”
This shows that Miles was a bit of a perfectionist by nature. His inability to finish songs and his reliance on other people to finish them for him shows that he needed some assistance when finalising a project. He did feel glad when something could be finished and showed gratitude to others for helping him with this problem. This means a lot to a perfectionist as they can struggle to come to terms with a solution without somebody to tell them that a project is finalised. It is important to value the opinions of other people if you are unsure of an idea, because they can offer a fresh perspective. The key is to make sure the person giving the advice is appropriate for the advice that is needed. Miles relied on other talented musicians, so he knew he could trust them and feel at ease.
Miles Davis MBTI (Probable):
The ISTP (Craftsman) personality is adventurous and independent. People with this personality type love to find out how things work and often have great mechanical and technical skills. They tend to live life in the “here and now”, which allows them to be adaptable to new situations whilst at the same time being spontaneous in their actions. They enjoy keeping busy and are action-oriented. This type thrives on new and exciting situations.
Miles Davis Keys to Success:
- Compete with the Best – To truly test and develop your skill set, you will need to compare and compete against the equals or superiors in your craft. It is always satisfying to do tasks we already know how to do or to compete against people we know are weaker than us. However, there is limited growth available in these activities. They mainly serve to increase your confidence. To develop, you will need to challenge yourself properly. Working with like-minded individuals or those more advanced than you will push you to greater accomplishments.
- Spot your Weaknesses – Although it can be difficult to admit, within your chosen pursuit there will be areas that you know are weaker than others. Look at these areas and work out what you need to do to bring these up to scratch with your existing skills. This will make you much more balanced within your craft and a make you a bigger asset to whoever needs your services.
- Practice makes Perfect – Expect to be terrible at everything the first time few times you perform them. Although the result you are looking for can seem so far away, appreciate the time and effort others have made to become experts in their fields. Use repetition to your advantage, the more time you spend practicing a skill, the better you will become.