Chris Thile’s Exercise in Joy

The Punch Brother and MacArthur Genius talks about why he chose the mandolin and how it relates to Roger Federer.


Chris Thile on Collaboration

It's all this stuff we're talking about. It's seeing someone, hearing them, and feeling them care so much, and delight in the care that they see around them. Delighting in their own care and feeling that double bounce off the trampoline of your mutual care. You know, getting each other riled up and conversations like we've had together or like when we got to play, what is it called? Is it “Dean Town”? When we got to do that together at Town Hall on the radio show you felt that crackling energy. It double bounces you.

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Sometimes you come to the table, you meet someone, and you leave the table feeling about the same as you came to the table feeling. And sometimes you come to the table, meet someone, and you feel changed. You leave the table feeling like more. And that’s what I'm looking for; to be around those people that help me transcend myself. I mean, I'm just this guy and, and without other people I'm gonna just be this guy forever. There's only so much you can improve yourself with just yourself there.

It's being around other people that makes you better, that makes you more. And I don't just mean like a better player, a better musician, I mean a better person. A better inhabitant of whatever all of this is. And so, that's what I'm looking for. The first time Brad [Mehldau, pianist] and I played together, there's that sense. I love Brad. I love his music with all of my heart. But I've had experiences getting in a room with someone whose music I absolutely adore and not feeling changed by the act of being together and making music together. It's sort of like one plus one can equal one, sometimes, and sometimes one plus one equals two. And that can, that can be really fun. And of course, you love that. But sometimes one plus one equals three, where you both are just leave the table feeling like I'm more now and I'm more when I go to the table with other people who aren't this person. So, I gotta make sure that I get back to the table with that person often.

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