John Coltrane's
"Psalm" - Animated

Coltrane is literally playing poetry through his saxophone!

A Love Supreme Animation Poetry

The Video: Animation of Coltrane's "Psalm"

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About A Love Supreme and "Psalm"

If there is anything sacred in jazz, it's Coltrane's "A Love Supreme." Mention the album in conversation with any serious musician and there is guaranteed to be a palpable sense mystique and reverence. Coltrane's short and, at times, tumultuous life seems to have lead him to this pinnacle album, a musical manifesto of sorts. He is widely known for expressing his desire for his music to heal and bring people together. He didn't do this through surface level entertainment, but through a profound musical statement that is rooted in transcending the human experience.

For many, the most profound aspect of Coltrane's A Love Supreme suite is part IV, "Psalm." Its impact comes in part from the liner notes to the album where a poem, also titled A Love Supreme, can be found (see below). Coltrane's playing on "Psalm" is, in Coltrane's words, a musical narration. In fact, with few exceptions, one can read the entire poem, along with Coltrane's, and it makes for breathtaking experience.

I created this video in order to illustrate the fact that Coltrane's piece "Psalm" is a musical recitation of his poem, "A Love Supreme."

Learn more about jazz and poetry here.

The Poem

A Love Supreme Record Jacket

The poem in John Coltrane's Handwritting

This picture is from Ashley Kahn's wonderful book, A Love Supreme: The Story of John Coltrane's Signature Album.

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One thing is for sure: Coltrane, favoring music far over language as his chosen means of expression, never again put as much effort into public writing. The letter and poetic libretto he penned constitute the highest yield of his investment in the power of the written word; to this day they remain as inherent a part of A Love Supreme as the phrasing of his saxophone.
A Love Supreme: The Story of John Coltrane's Signature Album, Ashley Kahn
A Love Supreme Record Jacket

The Record Jacket to A Love Supreme

Coltrane's poem, A Love Supreme, can be found at the bottom of the record jacket for the album. He used the prose from the poem as his guide for the music. He literally played the poem.

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Further Resources

John Coltrane: His Life and Music
By Lewis Porter

This book by Lewis Porter is an absolute must have. It is a prime example of exemplary scholarship and in jazz. It touches on everything Coltrane and is easy to read. I ended up with a 77 page document of notes when I read it! Do yourself a favor and buy this book!

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A Love Supreme
The Album

The Album. It is one of the most important musical works of the 20th Century. If you don't own it you're missing out.

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The Making of A Love Supreme
By Ashley Kahn

An exceptional book. If you want to dive into A Love Supreme, start with Kahn. It is filled with captivating photos and puts the album in a new light. A necessary part of any jazz lover's library.

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