A personal story always shows specific experiences, which in retrospect do not seem to be just coincidence. Such was my encounter with Dutch philosopher and teacher at the university Ruud Welten in 2007, who also appeared to be, like I was, one of the double bass students at the Rotterdam Conservatory in the early 1980s. Trying to figure out what my thesis could be about in order to graduate from university, Ruud aksed me, ‘why not develop a jazz philosophy?’ And so I did. The following short text is a preface to this thesis, which after my graduation has actually developed into a more complex and comprehensive study. To this day, however, I have never really finished it, but every now and then I pick it up to rework the research into articles. There are a few on this website.
It is not uncommon, at least in the Netherlands, that students at conservatories sometimes get frustrated and lose touch with their initial love for music. Back in the 1980s, while studying double bass at the Rotterdam Conservatory, I came to be one of them. As a young musician, barely eighteen, it was a tumultuous time that I couldn’t quite cope with. So I dropped out of conservatory, sold my bass, and returned to my hometown to start a new life without music – fully convinced that I was never going to be a musician again.
At that time I did not foresee that I would be confronted with, and so it still seems today, get hooked up with a quest for inner freedom. Freedom has always been associated with jazz music, but the discussions that I used to have with my piano teacher on what freedom was or could be, made it clear that I was looking for something totally different. Something that I wasn’t able to share with other students either. Slowly I started drifting away from what had touched me most profoundly, subsequently concealing again my young creative soul that was just opening up, involved in expressing and developing itself.
Only later I came to understand that by radically quitting music, my inner urge for freedom, something that could have become conscious through music, was condemned to become a total abstraction: a spiritual striving away from the world, which left me totally abandoned with no social future perspective whatsoever. It took me about twenty years to realize and overcome this ‘dualism’, and to find my way back to the social world of human interactions and improvised music. This thesis is the result of that individual quest that at the same time has deepened my understanding of jazz music. Being a musician myself, music has always guided my musical and personal development, and was therefore, in addition to my academic education on philosophy and theology, of utmost importance to enable me to write down the ideas that will be developed here.
 Marcel Cobussen’s Thresholds Rethinking Spirituality Through Music: p.18 “When becoming a professionally trained musician led me to the experience that somewhere in that process my love for music had severely decreased,…” Some friends of mine too gave up conservatory.