Richard Feynman

When I was doing particle physics, Richard Feynman was my hero. Not only did he introduce Feynman diagrams which made high energy physics so much clearer, but also did he have a lot of humour. During a hard time I read his book  Surely you‘re joking, Mr. Feynman! and I found it wonderful what a curious, intelligent character can live to see. Later I read the biography by Jagdish Mehra The Beat of a Different Drum. The title refers to Feynman’s passion for drumming and his originality. In an epitaph he was called a physicist’s physicist. Some people may have thought he was arrogant. But let us be honest, by far most people overestimate their intelligence 😉

 

Farewell to Darmstadt

view from balcony

Another part of my life came to an end in October. Writing about it puts the question in which attitude I do it. I want to write thankfully. In 2009, I came to Darmstadt. First I worked at the Technical University, then at the accelerator GSI. I wrote a monography. For 10 years I took part in the workshop band of Jürgen Wuchner who died in 2020. Eight times I participated in the Jazz Conceptions, a one week summer workshop. I enjoyed the vibrant music scene, especially the concerts at Jazz Institute and at Knabenschule. The Frankfurt Radio Big Band played at Centralstation. Darmstadt also has a Staatstheater (public theatre) with opera. Each summer the Jürgen Wuchner Workshop Band gave a promenade concert in Orangerie Garden if it did not rain. I feel sad that I had to leave friends. Certainly will I return as a visitor.

In My Dreams

Are you curious what I am dreaming of? I am going to tell you, musically. It is an admittedly short composition, but for three tenor saxophones. On account of the pandemic it is hard to get three saxophonists together, so I recorded myself thrice.

Here you find the written composition:

In_meinen_Traeumen_Tenor_Trio

 

Farewell to Jürgen Wuchner

Jürgen Wuchner in 2014 (Photo by Helge Kramberger)

On 1st May 2020, Jürgen Wuchner has passed away. He was a bassist, composer, band leader and teacher. He was honoured by the Hessian Jazz Award, the Darmstadt Music Award and the Johann Heinrich Merck Award. I knew him from his workshops. I played in his Darmstadt Workshop Band for 10 years. In his emails, he addressed the participants as “Dear jazz friends, …” and everybody knew about the double meaning. I feel very thankful that I could bring in original compositions which he arranged so wonderfully.

I feel helpless regarding something absolute like death. However, I take comfort from the fact that he had a fulfilled life of a musician and that he could travel all over the world. Gilbert Bécaud once sang, « Quand il est mort le poète, le monde entier pleurait ! » (When the poet died, the whole world cried!) This is also true for other artists.

It gave me so much having made music with him. He had many good traits of character. I miss him a lot.

 

Learn a Lick

From time to time I compose licks. These are only a few bars long. A lick for the chord C7 over one bar served as a source for an etude which I called “Learn a Lick”. I attach three versions in different keys. The eager players may practice all three of them. Or you may use them to play a blues in concert Bb with your jazz mates.

Learn_a_Lick_C   Learn_a_Lick_Bb   Learn_a_Lick_Eb

 

Why Jazz?

This music is a great passion of mine. Mostly it is characterized by swing, forward drive, and improvisation. It is important for me as an attitude towards life and as a journey. I associate freedom, curiosity, openness, and tolerance. Racism and jazz are very difficult to combine, for this kind of music originated mostly from African Americans. Jazz is the most beautiful present that America gave to the world.

Actually, you do not need to read any further. I am going to list my favourite jazzwomen and jazzmen. It is a long, incomplete list without specific order.

Louis Armstrong, Lester Young, Coleman Hawkins, John Coltrane, Dexter Gordon, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Herbie Hancock, Esbjörn Svensson, Michael Wollny, Heinz Sauer, Karolina Strassmayer, Klaus Doldinger, Peter Back, Jürgen Wuchner, Uli Partheil, Christopher Dell, Gary Burton, Keith Jarrett, Jan Garbarek, Inge Brandenburg, Ingrid Laubrock, Paul Kuhn, Rolf Kühn, Chick Corea, Kalle Kalima, Emil Mangelsdorff, Dave Brubeck, Paul Desmond, Chet Baker, Dizzy Gillespie.

Climate Change

At present the Corona crisis is very severe. Many people die from the virus. The damage to the economy is huge. Nonetheless, I want to write on another problem of mankind, the climate change. I have read a German book on this subject by two climatologists from Potsdam, Rahmstorf and Schellnhuber. They report on a large consensus in science that the global warming is caused by man. Doubling the amount of carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere would mean a temperature rise of 3 Kelvin (+/- 1 K at a confidence level of 95%.) Those who want to know more are advised to read the reports of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.) I think their scientific arguments should be taken seriously, as well as their concern to use the knowledge of our time in a responsible way.

 

Black Hole

Recently scientists succeeded in taking a picture of a black hole. Therefore, I want to write a few lines about this phenomenon.

In a black hole, matter is so highly compressed that even light cannot escape from its vicinity. General relativity treats a black hole as a point, i.e. it has no extension. This is hard to imagine. However, take as an example the electron which is considered as a point particle, although it has a mass at rest.

A black hole is surrounded by an event horizon. Everything that passes it becomes invisible for the world outside. If a matter-antimatter pair is created from the vacuum near the event horizon, a particle may cross it. The other particle seems to come out. This is Hawking radiation.

In particle physics, there are collisions at high energies. Can a black hole be produced in a collider experiment? This question was subject of a court dispute. The physicists bring forward the argument that the cosmic radiation contains particles of much higher energy. Although the cosmic radiation hits the Earth, our world still exists.

Dreamful

I would like to draw your attention to the composer, saxophonist and pianist Renate Hartnagel. Visit her homepage:

http://mellow-tones.de/?lang=en

She is the composer of piano sheet music collections like Enjoy Your Piano and Traumhafte Klaviermusik (Dreamful Piano Music). She masters many styles: classic, Latin, pop, and jazz. One of my favourite pieces is Wie ein Wunder (Like a Miracle):