50+ Best Miles Davis Quotes: Exclusive Selection

Miles Dewey Davis III was an American jazz musician, a great trumpeter who as a bandleader and composer. He is among the most influential and acclaimed figures in the history of jazz and 20th century music. Inspirational Miles Davis quotes will challenge the way you think, and help guide you through any life experience.

If you’re searching for inspirational quotes by musicians that perfectly capture what you’d like to say or just want to feel inspired yourself, browse through an amazing collection of profound Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart quotes, amazing Bruno Mars quotes and top George Strait quotes.

Famous Miles Davis Quotes

So when you hear an accident today it sounds different, not all the metal colliding like it was in the forties and fifties. Musicians pick up sounds and incorporate that into their playing, so the music that they make will be different.

If you don’t know what to play, play nothing.

A painting is music you can see and music is a painting you can hear.

For me, music and life are all about style.

The only thing I’m interested in is the music and the musicians. I don’t acknowledge applause ’cause I’m giving them something. They’re not giving me anything with their applause.

My ego only needs a good rhythm section.

You can dominate a game if you dominate on the line…We’re just going to have to go out there and work hard and blow people off the ball, and let our runners do what they do best.

If you’re not making a mistake, it’s a mistake.

The music has gotten thick. Guys give me tunes and they’re full of chords. I can’t play them…I think a movement in jazz is beginning away from the conventional string of chords, and a return to the emphasis on melodic rather than a harmonic variation. There will be fewer chords but infinite possibilities as to what to do with them.

First you imitate, then you innovate.

You know why I quit playing ballads? Cause I love playing ballads.

Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of who plays it is 80 percent.

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.

A legend is an old man with a cane known for what he used to do. I’m still doing it.

I learned so much from my cousin, Alexander. I think he did things the right way. That’s how he made it to the NFL… But the biggest thing I got from him was working hard and doing whatever you can to help the team.

A lot of people ask me where music is going today. I think it’s going in short phrases. If you listen, anybody with an ear can hear that. Music is always changing. It changes because of the times and the technology that’s available, the material that things are made of, like plastic cars instead of steel.

I love Pops, I love the way he sings, the way he plays – everything he does, except when he says something against modern-jazz music.

All my inspiration comes from Ahmad Jamal.

See, if you put a musician in a place where he has to do something different from what he does all the time, then he can do that – but he’s got to think differently in order to do it.

Inspirational Miles Davis Quotes

We don’t play to be seen. I’m addicted to music, not audiences.

Prince is from the school of James Brown, and I love James Brown because of all the great rhythms he plays.

Jazz music has got to have that thing. You have to be born with it. You can’t even buy it. If you could buy it, they’d have it at the next Newport festival.

Music is a funny thing when you really come to think about it.

Do not fear mistakes. There are none.

When you work with great musicians, they are always a part of you… their spirits are walking around in me, so they’re still here and passing it on to others.

Jazz is the big brother of Revolution. Revolution follows it around.

Knowledge is freedom and ignorance is slavery.

I never thought jazz was meant to be a museum piece like other dead things once considered artistic.

If you sacrifice your art because of some woman, or some man, or for some color, or for some wealth, you can’t be trusted.

I always listen to what I can leave out.

When you do anything too long, you either wear it out or lose interest.

If you love ’em in the morning with their eyes full of crust; if you love ’em at night with their hair full of rollers, chances are, you’re in love.

In music, silence is more important than sound.

If it sounds clean and slick, I’ve been doing it too long.

I was minding my own business when something says to me, ‘You ought to blow trumpet’. I have just been trying ever since.

You’d be surprised. Drummers ape each other. The way every rock n’ roll record sounds like something else but not all together. Everything other drummers play, if you’re playing drums, they all hear.

When you get in front of an audience, you should try to give ’em something. After all, they’re there looking at you like this. You can’t go out and give ’em nothing.

I know what I’ve done for music, but don’t call me a legend. Just call me Miles Davis.

You should never be comfortable, man. Being comfortable fouled up a lot of musicians.

Always look ahead, but never look back.

Play what you know, and then play above that.

In improvisation, there are no mistakes.

If you understood everything I say, you’d be me!

I’ll play it first and tell you what it is later.

You have to know 400 notes that you can play, then pick the right four.

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.

Someday I’m gonna call me up on the phone, so when I answer, I can tell myself to shut up.

It took me twenty years study and practice to work up to what I wanted to play in this performance. How can she expect to listen five minutes and understand it?

Time isn’t the main thing. It’s the only thing.

Don’t worry about playing a lot of notes. Just find one pretty one.

My father’s rich, my momma’s good looking. Right? And I can play the Blues. I’ve never suffered and don’t intend to suffer.

It’s not the note you play that’s the wrong note – it’s the note you play afterwards that makes it right or wrong.

Look, man, all I am is a trumpet player.

You can’t play anything on a horn that Louis hasn’t played.

I can tell whether a person can play just by the way he stands.

When you’re creating…even the sky ain’t the limit.