Quotes by musicians

quotes by musicians

I always found reading quotes by musicians interesting and inspiring when I was learning. I found that reading other musician quotes always gave me a little more insight into their lives and music. It was almost as if reading quotes by musicians about music, performing, or other musicians gave me a small glimpse into their character and, by extension, their personality and lives.

I have put this list of musician's quotes together for those who would like to gain a little deeper insight into some of their favorite composers.

If you know I have mis-attributed a particular musician quote, or you have favorite quotes by musicians of your own that you would like to see on this page please just use the box below to let me know.

List of quotes by musicians

Musical compositions, it should be remembered, do not inhabit certain countries, certain museums, like paintings and statues. The Mozart Quintet is not shut up in Salzburg: I have it in my pocket.
Henri Rabaud
Conductor and Composer

Music is forever; music should grow and mature with you, following you right on up until you die
Paul Simon

A jazz musician is a juggler who uses harmonies instead of oranges.
Benny Green
Jazz Pianist

My whole trick is to keep the tune well out in front. If I play Tchaikovsky, I play his melodies and skip his spiritual struggle.

Jazz will endure just as long as people hear it through their feet instead of their brains.
John Philip Sousa
Composer, Conductor

The notes I handle no better than many pianists. But the pauses between the notes - ah, that is where the art resides!
Artur Schnabel

[The above quote by Artur Schnabel is one of my favorite quotes by musicians to tell my piano students about.]

Women and rhythm section first
Jaco Pastorius
Bass Player

Man, if you have to ask what it is, you’ll never know
Attributed to Louis Armstrong when he was asked "What's Jazz?"
Jazz musician and Band Leader

I don’t need words — it’s all in the phrasing
Louis Armstrong
Jazz musician and Band Leader

Never play anything the same way twice
Louis Armstrong
Jazz musician and Band Leader

I don’t care if a dude is purple with green breath as long as he can swing
Miles Davis
Jazz trumpeter

Coltrane, you can't play everything at once!
Miles Davis, to John Coltrane (sax player)
Jazz trumpeter

Jazz is the big brother of Revolution. Revolution follows it around.
Miles Davis
Jazz trumpeter

Do not fear mistakes. There are none.
Miles Davis
Jazz trumpeter

I'll play it first and tell you what it is later
Miles Davis
Jazz trumpeter

A beat is a moment in the life a groove.
Wynton Marsalis

And if I ever DO see [Kenny G] anywhere, at any function — he WILL get a piece of my mind, and maybe a guitar wrapped around his head
Pat Methany talking about Kenny G overdubbing jazz greats recordings for an album (and I have to say i tend to agree - it was a little cheeky!)

Chopin is my dawg!
Alicia Keys
Pianist, Singer, Songwriter

Music can change the world because it can change people
Lead singer of U2

Music is your own experience, your thoughts, your wisdom. If you don't live it, it won't come out of your horn.
Charlie Parker
Jazz saxophonist

A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence.
Leopold Stokowski

The joy of music should never be interrupted by a commercial.
Leonard Bernstein

Everyone was using tiny brushes and doing watercolors, while Jimi Hendrix was painting galactic scenes in Cinemascope. We are working in a field of mystical resonance, sound and vibration... that's what makes people cry, laugh and feel their hair stand up
Carlos Santana

Music is your own experience, your thoughts, your wisdom. If you don't live it, it won't come out of your horn.
Charlie Parker
Jazz saxophonist

All music is folk music. I ain't never heard a horse sing a song.
Louis Armstrong
Jazz musician and Band Leader

Music is the hardest kind of art. It doesn't hang up on a wall and wait to be stared at and enjoyed by passersby. It's communication. It's hours and hours being put into a work of art that may only last, in reality, for a few moments...but if done well, and truly appreciated, it lasts in our hearts forever. That's art. Speaking with your heart to the hearts of others.
Dan Romano
Artist, Musician

I think music in itself is healing. It's an explosive expression of humanity. It's something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we're from, everyone loves music.
Billy Joel

Music after all is the background score to our lives, not merely surviving in our memory banks long after so many of our seemingly stronger memories have faltered, but serving to remind us of who we were at a given moment of our lives, where we were, what we dreamed of, what we feared, and of course who we loved."The most fun happens in music when you're not doing it, when the music plays itself. Why is this night different than all other nights? Why is music different from anything else in life? When we let things flow, joy happens.
Eddie Daniels
Jazz Clarinettist

Music is a world within itself, with a language we all understand"
Stevie Wonder

My music is the spiritual expression of what I am; my faith, my knowledge, my being. When you begin to see the possibilities of music, you desire to do something really good for people, to help humanity free itself from its hangups. I want to speak to their souls.
John Coltrane
Jazz Saxophonist

When played properly, a bari sax should sound like a cello... a cello of death.
Gary Lewis

You can't possibly hear the last movement of Beethoven's Seventh and go slow
Oscar Levant, explaining his way out of a speeding ticket

[This is another of my favorite quotes by musicians. I keep meaning to put a copy of the last movement of Beethoven's Seventh in my car... just in case!]

Paint pictures with sound. First, find your white—the deepest, roundest sound you can play on the guitar. Then, find your black—which is the most extreme tonal difference from white you can play. Now, just pick the note where you’ve got white, pick it where you’ve got black, and then find all those colors in between. Get those colors down, and you’ll be able to express almost any emotion on the guitar.
Les Paul
and designer of the Gibson Les Paul!

Trying to explain music is like trying to dance architecture
Thelonius Monk
Jazz Pianist

Talking about music is like dancing about architecture
Frank Zappa

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Visitor's favourite quotes

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Paul Selcovitz Bass Player, Inside Straight. 
You may wear the finest clothes, own the biggest house, eat only gourmet foods and live the most extravagant lifestyle known. All of those are improved …

Paul Simon 
"I don't want audiences to feel a specific thing - I just want audiences to feel." Paul Simon

My Quote 
Music comes from the soul. People expect you to spit it out, but really we are just human and we go as fast as you do.

Always give your best Not rated yet
Every time you pick up your guitar to play, play as if it's the last time.

Chris Newman Not rated yet
To me, music is poetry and poetry is music.

Laura Marling Not rated yet
"I do so hate to be forced to be anything than other than what I am."

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