::: 14 August 2016 :::
Physical ideas, physical footage.
Energy unfolds practice.
There was once a flock of cranes who were flying south. Their leader told them, "Don't make any sound or we will be killed by human beings." So all the cranes started saying, "Don't make any sound! Don't make any sound! Don't make any sound!" until there was no silence in the sky. Even though there is no need to use words to describe our realization, still words automatically come more and more to describe our descriptionless state.
- Thinley Norbu, Magic Dance
Taking things apart by touch, like gamelan, tapping it apart by spaces, empty of experiential cliche, stylistic conditioning or pressure...
"Satori"... Being on the crest of an infinite wave...
"Satori", couched in practice, of practice, harbored, guided and founded in practice. The opposite of "existential crisis". What's actually happening to someone having an "existential crisis"?
Breaking through conditioning. We must really see... see that. But again, with Practice, meditation, means of relating and using/channeling this, it becomes Freedom, primordial energy. The intellect, concepts, intention, self-consciousness, is liberated and becomes direct open free projective exploration, raw motion, guided, surrounded or permeated by awareness, by balance. To be free of conditioning means to be free of category, to be free in style and alone and unique but connecting and receiving, giving, offering, and appreciating.
To know one's roots, to return to the source, to remember the way, to clear the desk, to clean the mirror.
Consciousness before category
Consciousness before concept
Rates of information
Speeds of formation
Areas of processing
Scope of trajectori
Openings for growth
Space for freedom
Emptiness for reality
Heights on inherent design,
perspective on materialization
potential structure interconnection,
leverage on momentum
non-obstruction for flow
Energy of the "known" - of connectedness, psycho-physical call and response. Attachment through attention. Interraction of perception between species. Essence and evolution. Kinetic creation. Muscular mantra. Pattern echoing in space becoming counterpoint to other dimensions. The impermanence of "support" and "transport". Replenishment through energy. Through spacial trajectory and sustain of attention/acknowledgement. Interpermeating flow, softness - persistence - constancy without edges, without "doubt" or hesitation, illusion, boundaries. Psychic field. Resonant impressions, dynamics, forces. Everything is everything, in stages of growth toward superstructural inevitability. Inevitable interconnectedness, interbeing, inter-is. The dharma of karma.
In Dogen's Shobogenzo, it's like he's untying the net, taking out the knots... It's still the same rope, but returning it to the single thread and all of its included twisted fibers - a single line and its threads, how they may twist to become a state in which to suspend phenomenon.
Intentional/unintentional self-placebo effect experiments. Such is our arts... But what is placebo really. Our life consciousness is but a single individual galactic placebo effect of "Self". Union, communion, unification, communification... An implosion in the universe. Also an explosion. A fusion. Commfusion.
The first is always on the bottom. The first thing to enter the existence is on the bottom. And so at the bottom of the earth, at the furthest depths of the earth, it is in the ocean, with these creatures of the sea. At the South Pole, perhaps that's the oldest part of the earth. Below the ice of the Antarctic, with the deepest creatures - are the sounds of the first sonic communications - and maybe the most advanced? So what we're hearing is the oldest consciousness in communication. Water consciousness. The sea creatures sing the songs of the seas. Total openness, no human intervals, levels, just completely open life. Creatures signaling through the full spectrum. Pure sound. Nothing matters - it's not about arriving at a certain man-made notion of style or thing or predictable place. Humans get trapped in their own style and self-importance.
Music - sound - is not just "music" - it's not just work in music and/or limited to our "instrument" - we aren't stuck or trapped in "music"... It is our work in consciousness, in our mind, in penetrating and extending to the essence of our being, of life, of connection beyond category, beyond Us. Music isn't just "music". Improvisation - sound - is the vehicle, the way out, further to the world and phenomena of interconnectedness. It's the way out with the spirit, blowing our minds. Improvisation is about phenomena, discovering phenomena, finding phenomena, these habitats, species, interactions... Transmitting it through us. "Music" returns to Sound - after schooling, after study, cultures of "music", it's a return to pure sound, sound that's beyond human definition, not limited by notions about what life should or shouldn't be. Sound is infinite, undefined, not a "style". It's free. We're free. You never know what it'll be. It's about being open to Listen - the raw phenomena - returning to the Essence, the Source of Sound, the Source of the Self. Every day, bring the flesh out through sound, through breath and blood, energy, pacing ourselves, not rushing, beyond "purpose" - but to see Perception through sound, through the daily cosmic tuning, connection, correspondence with the earth, with life, nature, phenomena, beyond category. Life music as the means OUT, not a competition, but as a higher connection. Work in consciousness, yoga, martial art, meditation, sport... It's no different. They are all necessary. For us, it happens to be through sound, which is Universal. Tone, rhythm, dynamic, volume, proportion, vibration... Even something without style, but grooving, flowing in the Essence of sound is for anybody - everybody needs it, needs to connect, needs to open themselves up. There's no sense in putting oneself higher than reality beyond one's microscopic ego. Eventually we need to surrender it completely to nature and phenomenon - big consciousness life flow. This is the freedom of Improvisation, and we have a tool through sound through which to Sing. Everything is singing. Singing doesn't just have to mean with the voice. It's with the body, the soul, the connection, the earth phenomena. So we all need to sing, everyone needs to sing, everyone needs to Dance. Dancing doesn't just mean with the feet, doesn't just mean in a club, doesn't just mean dancing to "music". Everyone needs to learn and teach themselves how to access this vital need of the human species, just like the vital need of, say, a cheetah, is to run, and to run that fast. So everyone needs to sing, everyone needs to dance, everyone needs to be free, everyone needs to discover (remember) the miraculous free phenomena and cosmic purpose life on earth is. Yes, we all have our "stuff" to tend to, but every day we need to connect - the Zen - to go beyond ourselves, to connect beyond ourselves, higher or deeper, beyond Ego. The spirituality of freedom. Yoga... To put oneself above that is not The Way. But the "self-importance" that matters I think is the part about knowing what our unique personal Duty, our Job on this earth is - to be the vehicle for higher connections. That is our reponsiblity, to attune ourselves into being capabale of opening things up, enabling, guiding or interracting that. Meditating on these new possibilities and these sound experiences. Meditation, exploration... The "self-importance" - this is our mission, whatever it is, this is what we Do. This is the earth Doing us. We are right to ourselves with our ability, our wisdom in what we know and have awakened to in our self - and that Path of the Way we uphold, the truth of openness, maturity, and work towards furthering. Just like we all need exercise, we all need also to connect with the Earth. Everybody needs that. Life energy beyond category. Sound is a wake-up call! A wake-up call to get beyond our minds... to go further....
Playing something harmonic, harmental, takes movements - gestural motions. Over time having worked with harmony, having absorbed those motions-equaling-harmony into the flesh and subconscious, knowing through to one's bones what motions and directed movements equal what harmonic/vertical instrumental presentation, to now try and work in our practice with those understood motions and subconscious gestures, but free of mind, playing like a wild yet controlled creature or organic design, so the body can then take the harmony into areas the mind couldn't think to reach - where then the body eventually presents new "material", new nature, for the mind and spirit to explore and compose/offer with.
"Upon the lump of red flesh there is a true man of no status who ceaselessly goes out and in through the gates of your face. Those who have not yet recognized him, look! look!" - Rinzai
Our work is meant to provide a glimpse into that which is so much greater than us. All the masters before us were devoted to this cause too. It is the best we can do. That is the Purpose it serves. It doesn't just stop with us. It is to assist in leading and guiding us beyond. A permanent state of bliss - of connection to that which is the superstructure. We serve the greater cause of life. Keys to unlock the doors of perception. Deepest respect to the great powers - the shamans who understand and have been given visions to be the earth messengers to help guide us on the path. Shamans sustain this ability, are born into it... We must protect the truth. The truth of life is sacred. Our work bows down in respect to the greater Truth. To record it to share before it passes. The gods of wisdom are real. Our is life about exposing them. Exposing life on greater levels. It takes awakening, not sleeping. Some people spend their entire lives as if asleep to the greater truths and the purpose of being alive - of being born into human form. We all need it. We all seek it. But it takes work to uphold these values and examples. Utmost respect to that which is so much greater than us. Life is a glimpse - a flash into consciousness of something so great... We make an offering with our consciousness to the gods of beauty, of the beyond... Life is a gift, a music to see the greater truth beyond us. We must look and understand deep within our being, within our life form. Sacred space in which to cultivate these visions. The temple of our mind-body... Everything is linked somehow... We study the links, the energy... And we share the search...
To crack open the window with a single sound... a tone to open the dimensions, as an offering...
We must set the example with our highest self, and uphold the truth.
We must go beyond theory, beyond what the mind can think of. Areas and directions of motion and space as in nature, animals, and extraordinary musical cultures free and clear from the predictable, limited western harmonic ways of thinking and associating. For instance listen to music from the mountainous regions of western New Guinea/Irian Jaya; from Papua New Guinea; Tibet and so on and on... Revolutions for the mind! And then phenomenal pure sounds in nature... Thank you Jeremy Hegge for introducing me to this community of field recording enthusiasts! For we're all out in the field, really. Observing, learning, adapting, surviving...
Again, to quote from Xenakis's 1952 journal: I must continue to strip down sound and rhythm. To reduce them to their most primitive expression... To find composition in its secret hiding place at the deepest level of primitive art. The opposite of modern diversity and complexity! The origin of music, that's what must be put back into place... Relearning to touch sound with our hands - that's the heart, the essence of music!
In truth we never really know anything. Knowledge and our notions of anything are always evolving, changing and adapting. Forever "incomplete". There is no all-sided definitive end-all knowledge. Mind over matter is an illusion. Both are free.
Gardens of earthly delight.
We owe it to mind to stay strong, healthy, expanding and balanced in body and breath, as all are inextricable and reflect each other. Mind just wants to expand and disperse - is creation's developmental axis through the body. "Mind" is the universe shelling inside of itself; a miraculous "black hole". Consciousness is aftershocks of self-awareness.
Why must the universe be aware of itself? What does "it" achieve by seeing and recording through memory the dream which is "human" reality?
The word "human" is just a word anyway. Taking away the label and category "human", we're nothing but biological experiments in evolution, evolving desires to reach higher and deeper "summits" of interconnection and penetration. Everything is born into its given wavelength, yet, we as "humans" are capable of recognizing those inherent to other life forms, informing us to appreciate and understand what it is that gives and sings.
But why? What does the Universe as a whole achieve with this creation of mind? What does that say about what's happening forever beyond us...
The ocean is endlessly vast and unknown to us, but at its edge at its beach where we witness it and perceive its creatures and perceive being perceived by them, imagine it as "small" and familiar to them that live there. The comfort and play in whales, seals and dolphins, at home in the visions within the sea and its depths and turns. The uncontrollable flow of the ocean for them is the same as the air is to us. For us to claim ownership to air is absurd, and yet without it we DIE, unquestionably. What lives, breathes. Meditate on the selfless unclaimable territory of the ocean and its great creatures which thrive and interdepend on it, as we do land. Deep down, we must relinquish "ownership". "To be born into human life is not easy." It is a privelage simply to be alive in consciousness... beyond categories in mind and body. Be of the sea and its great mercy. Watch the dolphins, watch the whales... The universe perceiving itself in consciousness.
Everything is body,
distant island ridges
perfectly defined against
the blue of the sky
and after us.
Creating expression through art opens up the interactive, expressive and physiological bounds and affects how we communicate and explore on the musical plane, frees us from the attunements and preconceptions of style, and the music can find new experiences which aren't just music; becomes honestly and simply about who we are, where we're at together, united, what we're listening to and can listen to in the world and of nature, and what we recognize experientially, spontaneously together.
We are in our own head, in our own thoughts, spinning off like an automobile.
Alongside the highway seeing cars fly past filled with people: we don't know their thoughts, we don't know their destinations, and for us to think we do is ridiculous. Our thoughts in our head are just as separate from clear reality as each of these cars filled with passengers headed off in separate destinations. When we cause our own troubles in our mind, it's the same thing, like being enclosed inside of an automobile, driving off, without stillness, separating ourselves and not being present. If we look around us no one and nothing else has any idea what our "troubles" are and what mind-set we're in. It's all in our head, like these passengers inside of an automobile on a highway. So, to be OPEN, and clear, and not constantly driving off in one's thoughts. Which is also why there's no need for us to take anything personally, because everyone is just off in the cosmos of their own head. We don't know what anyone's thinking, we don't know where anyone's going, all that we know is what we "think". So if we can just stop thinking, then... then unencumbered we perceive...
We watch the mind, it's trails, traps and pitfalls, for awareness. Thoughts like cars on the highway, each thought filled with different people, personalities, trajectory... So, to make our mind like a quiet, desolate desert road. It's so clear from thoughts, constructs, traffic, passengers... What is the sound like on the ground atmosphere of a different planet?
Go beyond the local perception.
We also so profoundly feel aloneness, individuality and separateness when a dear friend or loved one dies, and no one else knows they died, a beautiful life which came to an end which affected us so deeply, and we are alone with it in our consciousness. At the same time from above it also shows how everything is really so free, beyond judgement, beyond personal attachment...
When we improvise together, it really boils down to how we're framing each other; how we frame things... IF we do... unless we can actually keep things unframed, but, framed through understanding.
"The essential point in learning Zen is to make the roots deep and the stem firm. Twenty-four hours a day, be aware of where you are and what you do."
"The capacity of speech is not only in the tongue, the ability to talk is not just a matter of words. The sayings of Zen masters are only intended to induce people to directly witness the nexus of causes and conditions that constitute what has always been of greatest concern.
Therefore the teachings are like fingers pointing to the moon. When you know this matter of greatest concern, then you stop formal study and apply this knowledge thoroughly, using it with comprehensive penetration." — Master Yuanwu, Zen Essence.
It is satori to be free from categories. To have explored the categories for their due time — categories being the "material"... Like Deshimaru said: "If you cross through your difficulties, your evolution, your level will change. But if you don't experience difficulty, you cannot progress. This is the problem with modern civilization. Some say that the future civilization will be a spiritual one; the last one was materialistic. But I say that we need both the material and the spiritual."
Material is the learning, of the intellect, the traditions, the teachings left behind... Images of the past, texts of the past, recordings of the past... But then to come back to the Source, the Root, the Essence, the great Cosmic Truth, free of categories. Having done necessary appreciation for a time, you come back to Satori, and then you go back to the material, to the categories, and contribute sincerely, keep it fresh, up-to-date. We work within and invent within these conditions, these constructs, categories, and it's easy because we're free, because we know the return to the Source is always there, that the source is always there, the Essence is always there beyond the categories, before. Always before, always after, always during. So in the one you strike the many, you strike all, you hit the 10,000 things in one shot because you are rooted in the freedom of cosmic truth in Being, in creative urge. You dance the category with the non-category. Categories can be blueprints of possibilities, possible associative dimensions of the past to help us, to guide us in and out. Language... Languages of experience with which to live for the world, for existence, in impermanence, being a being of Choice a made by existence, male and female, to take part in this opportunity life is, to help celebrate and channel the strength of something we call "love". That is what happens when we die — the DMT in the mind which I experienced in ayahuasca meditations — where we're free from categories again. All that drops off when we go beyond. So to have that in us, the death within us. That's what's beautiful about it, and that's what's also beautiful about life — to have that in us when we live, because then we're in touch with death — the freedom from categories in death. It's beyond category. It's beyond personally-had experience. So to be a vehicle for things which are in you, with you, but aren't "you", is the cosmic truth. To be the vehicle, the transmission. The fuel of life, for life... Vehicle, transmission... Modern society, the city, these constructs, are built on categories, on classification. Trend, image, look, style... Style can be a trap. To understand that. For meditation come before. To be and exist in modern society, materialist culture, but to be free from it, to not let it claim you, oppress you. To surf. To ride the water means being able to touch on whatever part of the water comes to you; to flow with. This happens also in the world of the mind: concept and freedom. That freedom sends concepts off into the sky like a bubble, like a ship, a shape, a bandwidth... The water is free from the known. No wave is the same exactly. Water never takes exactly the same way or hits the surface of anything the same way. Water is timeless. So to see the timelessness in everything; to know that impermanence — mujo — which is zazen. To let thoughts pass, pass, pass, like the stream, until it just becomes clear, pure. In order to do that we must clean the mouth of the river, we must travel upstream to the source of thoughts.
To have a practice which can become free from categories, that enables the cosmic energy to come through. This is satori. This is why a practice which gives us the opportunity to breathe out fully, breathing that's beyond category, that is complete, that's not trapped, forced, restricted, that's not unconscious. It's all-conscious. To breathe right and good posture implies freedom from traps, fetters, and repercussions of illusion. This is why working and creating in nature — the outdoors, under the sky — is so important. Because nature is free of mind, and it can guide us, be that bed, that river in which to raft, in which to float/sail beyond categories. Nature is so important for us to stay balanced with modern society... trend, business, style... In order to dance with those things as they are each in truth dancing, we need to be grounded in the cosmic truth which is nature, which has always been before, during, and after. To get to that in the practice, musically, where exercises can become free from categories and we explore and deconstruct to get to the fundamental, the basic, the essence, the root, and to then train the body from there — to work our way in or out of/with these exercises which collaborate, corroborate, callibrate our musical expressive articulative free being. Which is why full warmup is so necessary, yoga, body, mind-body attuning, stirring, blending, allowing us to be the free orb of possibility. Getting immersed in the water.
A relaxed arm and hand with the trombone slide like Heifetz's bowing, like a prosthetic arm and hand, a mannequin arm...
The advantage of the slide is that we aren't trapped to intervals like someone is with keys or valves. It's more gestural, and we take things wider by just gesture, slightly different distances in the arm, different physical combinations. We know the shape - we know subconsciously what the shape means harmonically - and so we open up the phenomenon it is gesturally to introduce new things for the mind to hear - points to begin composing from.
The zen of mannequin,
the zen of scarecrow,
the zen of prosthetic limbs,
the zen of limbs,
the zen of sight,
the zen of eyes,
the zen of arm, the zen of hand...
To explore things simply, in different combinations, like at the piano, where everything is touch and distances, and different, simple, fruitful combinations and tactile spaces, free from categories; categorical patterns.
To transcend some of the long-term "traps" of the warm-up - of some rigid technical legitamacy... Having learned what works personally and gets things aligned, being open now to letting go, but pacing yourself, and touching on all of these things... breath, tongue, lip flexibility, range, motion... Like when people go to the gym, they work out on these apparatuses which show them what to do, how to exercise and target certain areas. So there are things we learn how to do that get us into the shape we need to be in to fulfill our health and well-being, a potential for balance, and it's the same with our instrument, these aspects for exercises which enable us to be the sort of musician - sound being - we need to be.
All that matters is the spirit, rhythm and shape. The shape contains everything. If the shape is there the harmony will be there. That's the reason for all lines anyway — those intervals — it's the shape. So, to free the mind and return harmony to gesture. We'll always hear "notes", we'll always here pitches, but at least to give ourselves fair distance from the habitual ways of assuming hearing. To give ourselves time to let go of the theoretical mind and return it to the body of gesture, and then back and back forth, where the mind will eventually come back unconsciously, subliminally, and superimpose its geography in recognizing a tonal/harmonic area in which to explore.
By letting go of technique we find new technique. As they say, “you learn about meditation by meditating.”
Practicing outside for an extended period — improvising, projecting, moving, walking — and stirring up all the gestural work, which is everything, everything we do, as a release, as a motion, of air, with air — that we get through those layers of the self and into the no-man’s land of just open flexible hits, ways of moving. Then the influences begin to bubble up of their own accord in this way where somehow the area you’re in is a wide fundamental that relates to many different sources. So you get into things to play that aren’t just on the surface, but of the deeper interconnected influences, not just on the surface with style, presenting a “thing”, a package, something that’s closed up, sealed... So, giving ourselves time in the former before stepping into the latter — and to have the latter refers to the time and place. We don’t want to play the same every time, we can’t! We’re different every day, as well as the place. We get in touch with the place, we get in touch with our self in that moment in time and exercise the flesh, the heart. It is what it is. But still, doing the work to get through the layers and return to the interconnect sources and building blocks. It’s a technique to get to non-“technique”.
In the microcosmic moment of improvisation, how are we influencing the improvisation? What are we doing and moving through that’s influencing the way we play, contribute, compose? The way we find things and connect to the Expanse and languages in space, in sound, in rhythm, in harmony, in pitch, in spirit, in meditation, in love, in life, in death.
One of the main things is: how are we influencing ourselves? What are we exposing ourselves to and using as these footholds on the personal life mountain? How are we influencing ourselves into new terrain? What are we doing in our practice to influence ourselves into growing, branching out further as we need to? Pushing further as we need to. Being true to what is intriguing and inspiring us. What are the amalgamations of things that are going to expand our improvisation, our strengths in energy and flexibility, ability, potential on the instruments? Where do we look? This is at the crux of practice.
Variations and developments, not mentally, but gesturally, physically in terms of just distances, movements… like when you get into punching a piano roll, you take your knowledge into more of an architectural dimension, so in this case, while playing, physically liberating outcomes of “harmony” and self reference by different combinations of just motions and raw shapes, not with mind but with the body below as it now knows it. Not with theoretical intelligence so to speak, not into vectors of cliché jazz progressions and reiterations...
Being as relatively honest and authentic as those of the past were in their own time; how that was the music of then and this is the music of now.
If there’s no space, and playing’s just continuous, it’s for the sake of interpenetration. Finding something that merges in the simultaneity... It’s like a view from the other side of the same building.
To have the unspoken understanding that the energy in the improvising stream of the band won’t buckle or get insecure. That having journeyed and finally finding the tribe, we stay, and set up camp. We’ve found something authentic, essentially, which deserves its anthropology.
To be free from the jazz relationships of hearing in respect to tonality where it becomes that trajectory of "impressing" around a tonality, around a pitch. To find new angles now, new relationships, expanse and distance from harmonic notions, where we’re completely independent and yet interconnected, peripherally, out in the general open field together, independent, yet together.
The point is to be as flexible as possible. There’s nothing to prove to each other “technically”, out of the sake of something being difficult. We’re evolved now. If there’s anything to prove to each other, it’s our openness, our desire to search and rediscover ourselves through each other. Our use of worldly flesh...
Not relating to what the other’s doing tonally in an obvious way. We take a parallel track, which is completely independent, and yet of the same field to deal with steps into further terrain, not stuck in quicksand, not boxed in. The tonal/harmonic thing works out on its own. Besides, we want it to be unpredictable anyway. It works out telepathically. Our consciousness becomes stereoscopic. Flying watchers of awareness.
Taking our body continent, our countenance, our countinant, of gestures wider… how to take us out of our self and into what are non-scales, non-intervals in terms of how we widen motions equaling material from ‘here’ to ‘here’… Opening up limitations, especially in terms of intervals. Trying to find new life forms of intervallic distance, scalular, temporal, harmonic, or whatever it is.
Not limiting oneself to just one creative medium. Exploring consciousness through other instruments, musical or artistic or whatever. The creational experiences all affect each other, which then all fall into the pitcher, the vessel of the main foundation, the main instrument, expanding the horizons of what we can sense when we create through that primary voice.
Great music is empowering! Healing!
Giving things time, allowing things to interpenetrate.
Every day we perform ourselves for the spirits, for the gods, for consciousness, as an offering, to see what happens. Prayer, an acknowledgement, an Appreciation that in a sense is our spiritual work in what we can express in what we can connect to, how we can connect to it… The affects of these transmissions is our growth, our intellectual athletic meditations.
Buddha's final words before he died:
"That which had to be done has been done. This is the cessation of the determined."
Sound is immaterial... If it excites us it matters not how the transmissions of its "values" comes to us, be it delivered live, indoors, outdoors, from a CD, computer, LP, cassette, piano roll, cylinder, nature, animals, machines... If it moves us, it moves us, and we are totally free to engulf its potential to ourselves and develop accordingly. We realize the importance of simply how the sound is generated, and open ourselves up to greater expanses of experience and consciousness. The sound or all-encompassing scope of vibrations and surrounding suchness may even be completely unintentional per se, not even intending to be a "thing", rendering it essentially "styleless". The windows of perception open and everything is everything, unlimited. Notions dissolve, "music" returns to the source of just Sound, Motion, and cannot be packaged, labeled... and overcomes causality.
We digest styles, develop our own style(s), then let go of style. Style can be limiting, in practice or performance. It's one of the reasons why it's so relieving to hear music not of America and Western Europe. Live sounds from Antarctica, for instance. Those Roots... Those roots of the collective sound evolution of the world.
It can take a certain kind of strength sometimes to let go of style altogether, those layers... To drop "style" publicly. No masks. No agenda. Just open mind-space, pure sound, fullest breath and full voice. "Voice" as in all things, all levels and dynamics of the body and its language, loose and singing. To be honest in this sense is the word people use called "art". We are naked. Self-"evaluation" of what one is doing is through a purely bare body coordination perception. It's not of the mind and its "wits", being self-conscious of one's Self. It's not "listening", but feeling and stretching. "Listening" takes care of itself. Our ears won't ever be plugged. So it becomes simply this feel, this no-mind, which is that conscious awareness of the body as a vessel somehow becoming no-body, and its calling to stretch towards its return to openness.
By looking at art we learn how to make art
Modern Art represents society's evolution in "ideas" -- its willingness to be curious, explore and appreciate different levels/notions of values. The threshold/tolerance has increased. Broader sets of "values". Embracing diversity... which reflects the expanse of society's reach of Experience. We learn to create by our reaches in experience.
In practice we want to change the scale of a given experience, a motion, or something larger, so that it can come into the level of our instrument and get us to incorporate a wider scope of playing.
Taking music into places which aren't necessarily just "music" anymore. It's more than music, so to speak... And it's by spending time in music that it opens us up further to life, how to experience more of life, how to transmit it, how to use it, how to "sing" the experience. Music and life feed each other, are truly interconnected, cross-polinate... Music is life, life is music. Music is a personal expression of spirit and connection through the body back out to the earth and people from which it came.
Buddha, Lao Tzu, Confucius, Huang Po, Marcus Aurelius, Chuang Tzu, Rumi, Hildegard Von Bingen, Sun Tzu, Enku, Takuan Soho, Miyamoto Musashi, Morihei Ueshiba, Black Elk, Hazrat Inayat Khan, Sri Yukteswar Giri, Paramahansa Yogananda, Hazrat Inayat Khan, Bhagawan Nityananda, Swami Muktananda Paramahansa, Gurumayi Chidvilasananda, Sri Aurobindo Ghosh, Mirra Alfassa, G.I. Gurdjieff, Chogyam Trungpa, Dalai Lama, Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, Osho, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, J. Krishnamurti, Thich Nhat Hanh, to name a few... (J.S. Bach, John Coltrane, Nikhil Banerjee, Watazumi Doso Roshi, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emily Dickenson, Walt Whitman, Mohandas Gandhi, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Helen Keller, Martin Luther King, Albert Einstein, C.G. Jung, Khalil Gibran, Rainer Maria Rilke, Herman Hesse, on to all the "greatest" artists, writers, teachers, thinkers and people of all kinds - more women, please! forgive me!) But in particular I'm thinking of all the great spiritual gurus, masters, sages, and seekers, and how they each reflect the time, their time, and their culture. On that highest level, no one's better or deeper than anybody else. They are all offering their own creed of Truth. Nobody is better than anybody else and we are free to appreciate all of these people and the insights/outsights they left for us. They each reflect the time and culture, the time and place. These are all different cultures, different nationalities of Truth, of Seeker. Nobody's better than anybody else. Each reflect a unique time and place, a unique view to the same Truth. We are free to follow our own path through it, to discover for ourselves as it is we're spurred on by our learning, be it from life and nature or other individuals or groups. With the access that we have today to these teachings, experiences, lives, historical remains, you could say that this really is the Era of Perspective, the era of really seeing even more of the nature of human evolution's passion to uncover Truth. That it is a need in the human species to Know... To never lose Love... That Love is somehow the highest or about the highest wavelength of human emotion as can be rung on the body instrument, and that it gets higher... That beyond the bandwidths of the body there are such higher degrees of Love, trillions of times greater than our human wavelength. And yet, in this given awareness that we have, we are alive to recognize that, and to live on that belief of truth to that feeling... That it is proof of something we're connected to which is beyond mind, and yet which essentially "protects" us from pointlessness. That "beauty" or "love" realized and expressed through our consciousness is an undeniable recognition of the Miraculous, beyond remaining in awe of it, but actually being It, channeling that Miraculous. Human qualities we may call great, genius, hero, master, legend, champion... That in the universe, the body is merely an expression of the most mind-boggling dance beyond definition, beyond style. That in this era of perspective we rest and soften into this truth of beauty shown to us. To celebrate with peace and love, and inspiration, compassion, strength, persistence, patience, meditation... That in living truly, righteously, we are each the Author of our lives, writing the story of our own lives. Essentially we are each a country! We are all united, connected, but we each have a unique lineage, different backgrounds going into different reaches of the world, so we are each in a way our own nationality. There are so many different types of nationality within a given race... To generalize into Caucasian, Asian, African American, Hispanic/Latino, Native American, and so on, is not completely true. We are each a broad conglomeration of world influences and history, which never before has the human race been given such access to. Access to people, to teachings... As we learn and grow, we each become a country, a culture, though of course we are all human... But the planet itself of course doesn't know it has had itself named so many times over through and through. People refer to all kinds of different species within a given classification, so essentially within the minds of the human race there can be said to be just as many species, if not more, since we each grow and develop differently, how we are each given/born into various conditions of connection to loving-creative life, regardless of the fact that an overall existing Truth is there in which we all share a part. Which is why there are certain teachers that resonate to us, that have an attraction to the wavelength of our "species" that is our path, on our track, on our story that we had to and want so much to learn from and write. And yet there are so many great teachers all over the world. There always have been. And it is how they each individually, honestly choose to speak the truth that appeals to us, that helps us to open up to our life and language of truth. They tune us up until we are ready to get back on the track. Essentially, we're on a path, a track, and eventually we turn off at the "garage", at the service station, and get tuned up by the spirits, by the teachers, by the teachings, that we think we need, or want to try out. Whatever it is that our field becomes, we will have our teachers. They are in all walks/swims of life. Each of these people are guideposts, lights... We don't need to be just like them, we don't need to be them, but they further awaken us to ourselves, to the expanse of our life. It's not right to be somebody else. Yet we go through periods of emulation, of digestion, learning, process, with that encounter, with that embracement, but when we're being us, it's not about proving to other people that we can be like people they like, like people they want to be like, on their wavelength, on their path. When we've studied more in our given field than those who witness us, they can't really impose/impede on the "displays of our freedom" when we know what we're doing and know what we have to do. Teachings are exercises in spirit that give us the experience/exspiritness that we each need uniquely as spiritual athletes. The greatest spiritual teachers and enlightened ones in all history: who can be said to have realized more truth? More knowledge? More enlightenment or greatness? Nobody is better than anybody else. They each reflect their time, place and culture.
If an ordinary man, when he is about to die, could only see the five elements of consciousness as void; the four physical elements as not constituting an 'I'; the real Mind as formless and neither coming nor going; his nature as something neither commencing at his birth nor perishing at his death, but as whole and motionless in its very depths; his Mind and environmental objects as one — if he could really accomplish this, he would receive Enlightenment in a flash. He would no longer be entangled by the Triple World; he would be a World-Transcendor. He would be without even the faintest tendency towards rebirth. If he should behold the glorious sight of all the Buddhas coming to welcome him, surrounded by every kind of gorgeous manifestation, he would feel no desire to approach them. If he should behold all sorts of horrific forms surrounding him, we would experience no terror. He would just be himself, oblivious of conceptual thought and one with the Absolute. He would have attained the state of unconditioned being. This, then, is the fundamental principle.
— The Zen Teaching of Huang Po: On the Transmission of Mind
Working in video, blowing with the material, improvising with the material, composing with the material, finding the material, searching for the material - (and by “material” we mean something, an event, that contains these Ideas for composing something, for being musical with...) - disappearing in the exploration of something that has various proofs, formulae… It’s like discovering an equation in nature which unlocks beautiful science, interactions, which reveal the world, that IS the world, that is that meditation there on life, on impermanence, on evolution, on the inevitable NOW. Meditating on what you have and deconstructing it, returning to the source, only then to come back and evolve again, to come back with a deeper understanding and experience, reinventing oneself. Having stripped things off, having “cleaned the mirror”, having given things their due study, breakdown, and finding our way back to the trunk, roots and soil from the branches, leaves and elements. If it’s learned/emulated/handed down, or self-realized, that journey is essentially Travel. You’re doing life justice.
In improvisation we want to find the material/generate the material to compose with. We want to find some new material... We might start with something that has a lot of space or not or a lot of notes or hardly any notes or a few notes or textures or whatever but something we feel is that Material to use that opens us up… The seeds to help find a new compositional entrance, development and atmosphere.
The sound of a church bell — that purity, that weight, that resonance… Only a couple notes sometimes! Or one note... But, the Essence in that bell, that sound! That’s all it needs, one note, a couple notes… To play like that as a man, to find that sound, to Cast that Body...
To have the No Thought like you have when you sing, but with the trombone. To have that much unity with trombone and mind/body as with the singing intention — where they are that completely linked, and there’s no need to think about where to put the arm or how to adjust the embouchure.
There is mental technique, and then purely physical technique… just motions… So practicing outdoors, under the open sky, no walls, free projection, feet on the earth, alone, with a look-out spot to the earth, inspiring this practice of just the motions without the theoretical mind in the way so that you just see things for what they are gesturally, combinatorially, and you make adjustments from that realm, not with the intervallic, harmonic mind. To just see the motions as this composite architecture that it is, and taking it apart, widening it, shrinking it, to loosen up the body, to free one from habits...
It should be more about how it Feels, how it Moves now, than about how it sounds, how it’s harmonic… If we come at it again and again with the pitch mind, that will get stuck, we’ll find the same notes… So the thing is to just open it up physically in the placement of the body, the relationship to the instrument. And after having done that with this history we have of working on our movements, techniques, and exposure to textural/rhythmic atmosphere with coordinating mind, that suddenly we get a perspective of something new harmonically, a new relationship, and that’s what we grab on to then, that’s when we bring in the mind peripherally to orchestrate it, giving us an opening into new harmony but from a different place that is more of just the physical body, not the predictable mind, not of the head, but the body, the bigger bodies…
Quality over Quantity to the core! To the core of one's being! A no-brainer, all-spiriter...
Improviser as Composer, improvising and composition through exploring ideas, studying spirit, disappearing in nature, curiosity, inevitable experimentation, collaboration, influence from art and artists, science, sports, martial arts, meditation, archeology, anthropology… It’s simply the way it is. Using these tools and resources we have today for our work — our perspective on developing insights into areas of study and creative discovery through means of projected composition be it aural or visual, alone or collaborative… It’s never one thing. It’s simply how we’re living and appreciating creativity inevitably in this body. Perseverance in health, love, benevolence… Grateful to share and connect.
The importance of listening to the great music and sounds together, coming to terms with the “teachings” together — the “teachings” being the ways of Hearing and Mobilization present in these Recordings of the "greats" in history — Sound as Voice — sharing that transmission together by experiencing it together, going through the journey of Discovering it, Recognizing it, Experiencing it, Mirroring it together — it’s how we Replenish, Relive, Revive and Continue It, Using It, Singing Its directions through our bodies...
Sharing these Interpretations of Understanding of the Experience of the Listening, of it getting us Open, teaches us how to Appreciate and Channel these Abilities — these Teachings. Everyone is different, yet, when we listen to sound, to music, essentially we’re all sharing the same thing.
Great music, great listening, takes full advantage of The Moment, which mean Quality over Quantity; Originality…
When improvising: how quickly do we go to the same thing? How quickly do we go to those same shapes, those same tempos, those same outlines… Do we need to? Can we get IN THE MIDDLE now, in between all that? Can we now embroider That usuality, hear That usuality but Echo It, accompany It but not actually play It, in order to get past It into new openness. So we’re actually playing the accompaniment to something that’s “silent,” which is the Yang, or the Yin, the outline of the shape of the composition, the Moment. Getting past the Self…
Learn from nature. Do away with being so quick to enclose it into something common, frequent, similar, predictable, expected… We can hear that, but we don’t play it. Now we play the Accompaniment to THAT. The Inverse… Know the Inverse, the Shadows… We are then in the Bush, not on the Common Path.
Sometimes it doesn’t happen right away. Sometimes things have piled up within us that we have to sort through. We have to straighten up our “inner office” before we can really produce New Work… So we might have to get through it first. It could happen quickly or not, but we must persist and stay balanced and work and give it a chance. We’ll be shocked what can happen after steadfast practice like this. Molting... Sometimes we have these layers we need to get through in ourselves, and we need to stir things back up again, mix things up… We don’t pour salad dressing until we’ve shaken it; we don’t pour juice from the container until we’ve shaken it and mixed the pulp and real substance back together, bringing that back up from the bottom to the surface. So we have to do that. Every day’s different. Keep replenishing, stirring our energies up, shaking ourselves, mixing ourselves, stirring ourselves up… There are countless kinds of mixtures that need to be stirred up, shaken up… We are all mixtures. Getting the ch’i flowing, getting the movement going, getting the inspiration going.
“Use the mind to mobilize the ch’i, use the ch’i to mobilize the body.” — The Thirteen Treatises on T’ai Chi Ch’uan
Our music, our improvisation, is a reflection of what we've listened to, what we listen to, listen for, looked at, look for, felt, feel, love, our influences, how we're unique in life experiences from birth to the present day. Our music and improvisation is also especially a reflection of how and what we practice, and how we're growing and taking things further.
Guarding integrity, or protecting it, by having Understood the statesmen, having been shaken to the core of one's being be the integrity of these great statesmen in history who could say so much with so little because of being rooted, having really steeped the roots themselves in roots and brewed it. Then one's voice comes through and it's quality of quantity. And by quality we mean honesty, maturity, integrity, strength, clarity, openness. One must really be an athlete in their own terms to realize potential, which is what we do in our practice: sport these values that shape us, train us, to be in a place where we can contribute something to the opportunity, be it "artistic", "spiritual"...
Thinking about what the free-improvisation of today is... channeling the influences of today... We can hear sound/music from practically anywhere in the world and our influences in such abundance now are demanding this freedom, calling out through our soul to sprout. Listening to so many different things plants the seeds, we become enriched like soil and can now just let things grow. In terms of managing our influences, our Improviser's influences, ideas and associative mind, we're like farmers. In how the seeds we plant, the things we love cross-pollinate in the heart, the subconscious, differently in how we're unique, enrich the soil - enriched by traditions, history, study, practice - that's the soil. The seeds are whatever we want. The soil is affected by weather - the weather of the imprint in how we treat ourself, and our health, our balance - on our farm, on our Spirit Farm, and now we let stuff grow, and we prune it, shape it, or not and let it grow totally wild, and let it evolve, let it give rise to the myriad creatures and natures. We're like farmers in how we manage our inner harvest, enrich our soil and allow things to grow...
As improvisers, we learn a language, languages, and then over time combine, and then deconstruct gesturally, as all things are gestures, combinations of movements, in the mouth, in the body, the mind, the air... Deconstructing, reinventing, rediscovering, and then creating our own language out of other languages... so of course it's never "gibberish", though, through a "gibberish" new gestures are to be found, incorporating a notion of gibberish... mindlessness...
The "goal" of meditation is just to be as clear as a window, to be clear, open, just like a window... It's not for mentation of worship or experiences we've read about. That's not the goal, to have these sorts of images which occured for other people. It's one thing to read about these experience, but we have to beware not to think that that's then the goal. It's beautiful, but the goal for us is to just be clear, just to sit. To just sit and be clear. It's so simple! It's not about thinking of what others went through, and about having the same experiences as them... visual hopes... No... It's just sit, and be clear. You're doing this for you. Just sit and clear, and be clear. Let the mind be clear as glass and be a window... Let the light pass through you............
It's really so easy: just take the pressure off needing to play relentlessly and start exploring simple things, space, hearing composition. Take the pressure off and start exploring... There's so much to explore! Why box it in?
LIFE-phrasing, OUTDOOR-phrasing, AWAKE-phrasing, NOTHING-TO-PROVE-phrasing, STATEMENT-phrasing, SPACIOUS-STRONG-phrasing...
The relationship between conscious, and conscience...
To not be self-conscious of oneself in artistic action, projective spiritual life action...
Self conscious... Self conscience... What is really the meaning of 'conscience'? Do we want to lose conscienceness? Consciousness without conscience... To let go of conscience after having established one's right "footing"... "Touch and go", like Trungpa reminds us...
In practice: this thing of recording oneself... recording a message... like a greeting message; to record oneself and listen to it in that way. These connected fragments of things, statements - practicing making statements - stating things melodically, gesturally - with value of some sort, something worthy of a message... a composition of statement... small compositions... instilling in oneself that every time you play you're thinking and feeling like a composer...
To erase pitch memory!
Cross-polination of influences in the body... Creative trajectory dancing...
Some of the greatest "ideas" classical music gives us as improvisers coming from jazz are melodic ones. To say 'melodic' implies a number of things, harmony, interval, rhythm, breathing, emotion... It could be any combination of things... even texture, even the furthest out thing can have melodicism to it! And I think that's something really the greatest jazz improvisers had, no matter how fast they were playing, complex, sparse, slow, etc., whatever it was, it was inextricably tied in to this melodicism and the sound for it, this lyricism, this value of statement... so much can be said with so little... Many are forgetting how to do this because they're so caught up in technique and what others have done with it. It becomes this thing about proving technique, and it should really be about proving one's openness to searching for deep, original values... Melodicism is a whole other category of technique. And I think for us as "jazz" improvisers, to play through classical music alone and inspired by its best recordings, and to play the melody line, that phrasing, those tempos and dynamics... like it's a solo - essentially an improvisation by the composer. Coming from our experience in jazz, the way we can interpret and read music and feel rhythm is unique, and we can do something different with classical music than classical musicians, and in turn then do something influential and expansive to ours, infusing our mind, body and imagination with all this pantonal melodic material... It puts something in the arms, in the breath... I think it's really important, and helpful. It gives us new sets of values for ourselves, connects us to beautiful history. We can discover something new today, are so free to learn... And to play a melody originally and beautifully is a total goal of musicianship, and I think as jazz musicians, to expand our vocabulary in this field is very important and does great service to the life potential of music, and of course interpretations of classical music. If anything, we're the sorts of musicians who can really breathe this new life into it, offer this soulful perspective...
from Music for all of us, by Leopold Stokowski, 1943:
"In the future music will return to another form of freedom it once had -- improvisation. Outstanding examples of this in the past were when Bach improvised on the organ, and Mozart and Beethoven on the piano. At the present time in Java and Bali this improvisational freedom in music is part of daily life. When our Occidental music regains this spontaneous improvised freedom, all the phases of music that we now have will be like one in feeling."
"Music without soul would not be music. And yet of all the many aspects of music, the soul of music is the most difficult to describe with words. There are regions so elusive in our life of feeling that only music can express such intangible and sublime visions of beauty.
To some musicians and lovers of music, the expression of the soul of music is its most valuable contribution to our life. Certain kinds of music seme to be a direct message from the divine soul to the soul of man. "
Page 353 of the I CHING, Wilhelm edition:
The Creative is the strongest of all things in the world.
The expression of its nature is invariably the easy,
in order thus to master the dangerous.
The Receptive is the most devoted of all things in the world.
The expression of its nature is invariably simple,
in order thus to master the obstructive.
Manifold elements to improvisation like mathematics in its far-reaching abstractions, "abstractions" like a tree's branches upon upon branches upon branches, all stemming from the first trunk; "abtractions" which are evolved notions of choices from the language's very beginnings. A personal science if you will.
Pushups in a room with ocean sound playing
reflecting on what happens to the sound
while moving up and down,
different depths of the sounds waves...
So the day has come when even in a situation like rehearsing with Henry Threadgill for a major performance with a new 10-piece group, a team which it's such an honor to be a part of, that while he's explaining the music to other band members, the guy sitting next to you, who this music is also new for, is on his cell phone, browing the internet looking at Facebook, sending messages.
Man, put that away! Unplug! What could be more important than this music right now?! Do that on the break if you have to, but not now! Seriously... INSULTING. This is all that matters right now, this music, being immersed in this... Is that how you stay in the zone, looking at Facebook and posting comments?! Unbelievable... Sad... There should be NO reason to have the phone out now unless it's a real emergency. You think it's okay though because you're around those kinds of musicians all the time that do this... But what is that?! I'm telling you, this is tragic for musicians... like being a junkie in jazz back in the day was for musicians, now it's this! And with this happening now at this sort of opportunity?! What are you doing!? Man, this is it, be 100% here, this music were playing now, THIS is the goal. Or any music for that matter that we're a part of; regardless it's always a chance to work on ourselves as musicians. And this is why we've lived in New York City all these years, to work at this level, but look at how you're treating it?! What are you in all this for?! This music deserves every fiber of us right now. And I'm saying all this because I care about you, and I'm seeing this epidemic affect so many musicians, wholeheartedly how they're a part of the moment, alone and collaboratively... I care about every single moment here right now and you doing that right next to me just breaks my heart. But you're surrounded by these sorts of musicians all the time think this is right, and okay for the music, but I'm telling you, IT'S NOT. Snap out of it! I'm never gonna let it get me, and I'm seeing this now and I just won't stand for it. This has to be said. If this was my gig I'd fire you in a flash. It says a lot about how much you're really immersed in this work here. You're just elsewhere, and it's disrespectful to the music, the bandleader, and fellow musicians. Seriously, all this Facebook stuff has been detrimental to the mind of the jazz musician/improviser, on the focus and intent people have, and now all this shallow attention on popularity, and careerism, people wanting to be famous...... It was not created by a wise artist invovled in their work wholly for the love and passion. It was created by someone who knew people felt lonely and wanted to feel popular amongst their circle of "friends" by displaying things which are simply beneath one to email. Anything that says how many people "liked" something, or how many "friends" one has, should never play into our lives. For artists it's rendered the ego into something even more fragmented... compressing over time in the body through all these illusive "pressures", it's beginning to harden and glitter like "fool's gold"! The ego, if there, should really be soft and loose personality -- rich, healthy soil in which things can truly grow... It's the harvest of life reaped without even knowing it, like the earth's existence itself.
The importance of starting a free, pure improvisation stretching the mind and senses away from implying an obvious tempo... but beginning with mixed, loose tempos... slow, medium, fast... unpredictable... Like the tempo one takes entering a new path, in nature... a beautiful hike... that kind of awareness, those mixed tempos, that pace, that curiosity, openness, that gratefulness for new things... but also some sort of passionate intensity for doing it, for needing it... like we need nature... And the only real way to do that, to get that openness, is by playing with space... By playing relentlessly, flipping the ON switch and just going, autopilot, trying to represent and maintain the same thing as usual, sound/tone, tempo, etc., and show off technique, you won't find It. It won't be the 'New Thing'. You're putting the wrong kind of pressure on yourself to "deliver"... That can come later, maybe, but really maybe not, and to really forget about those "triumphs" by the great jazz musicians of the past... getting to It differently now, expanding the horizons, like blank staff paper or canvas in front of you... composing... But clearing the mind! Space! And then if anything, we can really "deserve" to play that other way, touching on the older methods subconsciously and out of love for that true originality when it was there... Rediscovering, reinventing these things...
"Even though our path is completely different from the warrior arts of the past, it is not necessary to abandon totally the old ways. Absorb venerable traditions into this new Art by clothing them with fresh garments, and build on the classic styles to create better forms." - Morihei Ueshiba, The Art of Peace
L I F E
The Song of the Body,
in touch with the Body as Song,
We are the Sound,
in how we move we are the Tone...
To have the action of notes, intervals and articulation on a wind instrument as instantaneously as piano or percussion... The section from The Unfettered Mind called "The interval into which not even a hair can be entered"...
Pianists getting the air out through their hands, arms, fingertips... tactile articulations in color like a voice, a wind instrument, a bowed instrument... those dynamics and touch through connection and awareness of breath... the saturations in a phrase...
Emulating the unemulateable
The only thing to prove is openness, flexibility, curiosity, gratefulness to try new things...
I've known Danielle de Niese since I was 16. We met at the Aspen Music Festival, where she was singing opera and I was playing jazz with Paul Jeffrey and in the big band he led there. Danielle and I both received scholarships to Aspen after having been finalists at the Music Center Spotlight Awards in Los Angeles, (me in 1993, her in '94). To this day we've remained dear friends and inspirations to one another, and every chance I've had to hear her when she'd be in town has always been confirming on so many, many levels. This summer of 2012 I heard her singing outside in duet with a pianist, as well as with a tenor and baritone, each separately. She's so comfortable on the stage, has the music understood and internalized so thoroughly, that it's all one natural, virtuosic whole... from the choreography and drama implicit to the story and scope of the music up through the language (be it Italian, German, French, English) to the pure projection of her singing and reinvention of the character. This happens not just from deeply rooted, gifted talent, but from sincerely hard work... compassionate, professional, committed, mature work. Her life and job as singer is so demanding, that just by witnessing it again, knowing her so well and understanding the music and what it takes, it gives me such continued strength in my own practice, raises the bar again on the whole thing and in my own beliefs of what's possible through instrumental ability, performance immersion, musical atmosphere, expansive improvisation... I relate to these musical experiences of hers in a very personal way as an improviser, because it uplifts me into feeling and thinking as composer, director and performer on even greater spontaneous terms. I've talked to her about this plenty and I always enjoy sharing my work with her and the ideas and inspirations behind it, and where things are headed... When she drove me home after this concert (her family lives in New Jersey so she takes the George Washington Bridge, which is right by my house), I read out loud to her excerpts from the amazing Vocal Wisdom book which have been SO inspiring and confirming to me lately in my training... I love sharing material like this with my fellow musicians and was so curious to hear her reactions... Just reading it to her was a musical experience, sharing and creating that energy for Danielle... another musician and beautiful spirit I'm so grateful to have in my life...
The benefits of practicing outside, alone, in nature, in a solitary place, by the ocean, say... that wash of pitchless sound, cleansing, cleaning the pallette of pitch and rhythm, opening up space, slowing down... We don't need to play fast, we don't need to prove anything... settling into a new and open way of hearing, feeling, making a sound, exploring pitch...
In the warm up: holding the instrument differently, stretching with it like a sword, bending with it into a yoga of sorts with the deep breathing - every day stretching with the whole relationship to it from the beginning, almost like starting from scratch, holding it in strange, awkward postures, NO STYLE, but just Energy, new fingers, hands, arms, new extensions, bended body, on one leg, squatting, pointing up, backwards, through the legs... Like things you see in the old yoga books...
In whatever the musical conditions, always see eye to eye with the full breath... never let it claim your breathing...
Playing through classical music instrumental parts, coming from jazz we have a unique ability to interpret/articulate this music when we can read it effortlessly - like back when we were young playing through transcriptions of solos with the record, this music can essentially function the same way - and then so many things that come up, intervallicly, lyrically/melodically, dynamically, orchestrationally - it's the stuff "exercise books" and technical introspections are made of. Exercise/scale/pattern books come from Real Music, not the other way around. We can find all the exercises we could ever need from just playing this actual music... we can create variations off of so little, aside from the fact that just by playing it it's getting us to move and phrase differently... So by reading this music Today, keeping the experience really alive like this and mystical in some sense, instead of just going through books of cliche, engrained instrumental shapes which everybody else has... Searching through this history of classical music for the sake of growth on our instruments like we did with jazz and its Spirits... Finding our own path through history and exercises in studies of real music... not these superficial offshoots... But okay, yes, there is this period at the beginning with one's instrument where there are foundations to learn specifically for it, but still, as soon as one starts to be given "Etudes", etc., play the music by the great composers! Not this sub-genre of material... I don't understand why people - mature adult musicians - still look at books like the Arban, etc... If we really know music we can easily just make this sort of stuff up on our own! We give ourselves time and space to discover physiologically/intuitively our own exercises which is really the stuff which takes us further... But again, back to encountering exercises through real music, all the great composers - it doesn't just teach us the Action of it, but it teaches us how to flow too and the essence of where these things come from, where things fall into place in the flow, the Why, the real stuff that music's made of... especially when we work with the great recordings/performances... But the people who always practice from these pattern/method/harmon books, this sub-music - these people wind up just being these sorts of pattern players that all sound alike. So often when people think they're "improvising", it sounds like they're literally just quoting from these conventional patterns, the same predictable directions, with no real resources for atmosphere or compositional expansion... When we improvise, the challenge is the searching in the listening, in the space, having technique behind us, but exploring something unique unto the moment, not just stepping into a sentence but the opening to a valiant journey into what's essentially just Nature...
In practice and growth: the importance of recording oneself often... learning awareness to make music which you yourself truly Love... constructive recording practice which comes under the same creative, instantaneous, intuitive scrutiny of taste in naturally critical/energetic listening which other music does when we in a sense "judge" it as composers... And in this day and age, we have all the tools available for ourselves to easily record our works in the best quality, audio or video. We don't need to spend money on a studio, an engineer... But so recording ourselves becomes a tool in and of itself to take us to higher planes in practice, as all things are life-practice... And then with the awareness it gives us, every time we play it can take on the compassion of a recording session, even if we aren't recording... And for improvisation, not avoiding it, but targeting it, looking into it, looking back to it, how we're composing and developing it, expanding it, being honest with it... how we handled the event, the interactions... In this way we're like scientists... learning about ourselves not just for ourself but really it's for the sake of others and the environments... these unpredictable opportunities that come to us... Then, in this Practice, the stuff that we love which we DO do gives us strength and spiritual conviction to build on... these most personal qualities which we strive to be in touch with at all time... And then, eventually, we're just doing it, and are always in touch with these vibrations in whatever music it is... But the growth never ends...
So many/most instruments have keys, and valves, but with THE SLIDE, we have a truly unique way IN with sound... with gravity... a SLIDE... So thinking about rediscovering the things we can do to exploit that uniquely... balances between manipulations and various kinds of control...
What improvised music has that composed/notated music can't is, among other things, unnotateable rhythms, spontaneous feeling, intonation... Of course the fact that it's simply spontaneous and unpredictable says it all... But still, when I hear a lot contemporary music, for instance, orchestral or chamber, the rhythms are always so STRAIGHT... so metric... As "advanced" as something like Xenakis or whoever it is is, rhythmically, it's still so straight, so assigned, because it has to be READ... Unnotateable rhythm (and Spirit, of course) is something which improvised music will always have on notated music, which, I think is actually a good thing to think about... playing and feeling things which can't be notated... Thriving and flying in the unnotateable... which is like the difference between HAVING the actual experience opposed to just READING about it... But rhythm is just one category of a really infinite realm of things which only improvised/spontaneous music can have which notated music can't... So then maybe then question is: as improvisers, how can we help notated music? What are the advantages we have with our physiological/experiential insight and experience to help make notated music flow in replenished, spontaneous, inspirationally reinvented ways?
The communion of energy with music, between musicians, in that search... THAT'S IT... That's why we do this... to take things forward... Like in great sports, it's most often not played alone... the boost given to a sprinter or marathon runner by running with/against others, not alone... though in music it's not about competing, but creating, communing, composing, transcending...
A recent dream: there was a long, painless cut around the back edge of the heel of my left foot from which I pulled out a sizeable piece of bubble wrap that was folded over a couple times for padding. Now that it was out there was no longer any cushioning and the skin was floppy, leaving the heel of the foot a large empty space
The beauty of no brain, like nature. Nature doesn't have a human brain; no money concerns... Multiplicity and intederminacy through brainlessness, everything gushing... The enlightenment of no brain
Getting each other to search in improvisation, not imitating in obvious ways, stretching the scope of our responses to the other(s) in how we take or are influenced by what they are playing, how widely we reference what others are doing conceptually, technically, choosing NOT copies of what they are doing, but, they having played it, we continue playing but also play off of branched/peripheral variations (like in chess) which are unobvious and echo landscapes/terrain to what they did, say, four measures ago. It opens up new orchestration, dynamics, new moods, not something so fixed, letting that all breathe and float into an atmosphere
Looking out the window in the morning on to a New York City street, the view of people on the move walking up the sidewalk to the subway each in their own way, their own speed and outfit, and others around opening up businesses, automobiles, and onwards into the day, but seeing them each as kids, projecting their adult outfit and ego on to that of them as children, and then imagining briefly what their stories are, why they're like that, their history, where their "style" came from, who they were influenced by and in what way the land they grew up in shaped them... Everyone was at one point a child... Seeing everyone as equals in that light, through the quilts of trends... seeing the original face...
Improvising musical lines and shapes is similar to doing watercolors, layering undernearth with quiet dynamics, covering with darker patches, shading, blurring, blending, saturating...
Music and arts set us free, we become conduits of history, personality, mystery... Doorways for channeling inspiration, conduits of influence, "hollow like bamboo"
Implications of vibrato... Worldliness through different intonations, tone productions, lengths of breath and space.
Schoenberg's pacing! Suspense!
The life of an artist is the living of an inner mountain, within, the reapproaching of that mountain, day to day, stepping back from it, looking at it, examining it, rehiking it, reclimbing it, finding new summits, and that there's no highest summit...
The image of a mountain that ascends into the sky forever.
The mountain of inner materials, stepping into it and then stepping out of it, containing it yet remaining free from it, then reapproaching it, but you're free, being yourself with the materials of styles, dancing with it, a trance in hearing, sensations, not thinking...
The sound of something getting lower in pitch as it moves further away from us, imagining the pitch continually lowering long beyond and after we can ever see it, let alone actually hear it again... Imaginging that vibration of waves continued between us and it forever, a pitch, the connectedness of vibration between us and all things through pitch...
Improvisation as the most important thing, as everything... to always be growing and expanding in it, exploring the influences, freeing the subconscious and striving to perceive and create new compositional and emotional form spontaneously through an instrument and invented language, to be forever more open and receptive to new sounds and uses of space, intervals, (and new ways to introduce new intervals to the body... gestures, awkward spans, unpredictable entrances) and rhythm, response, simplicity, abstraction, tradition, exercise... We still have so far to go! And we'll never get there. It never ends... Improvisation as an art of honesty, a product of the times... A science, an intellectual yoga, dreaming and projected atmosphere of the self, people and nature.
Music as decoration to silence, to nature
Composer as mental, performer as physical
Like the great painters of the past speak of 'copying from the masters' and what it does for them in their conscious and subconscious technical and spiritual foundations, musicians and especially jazz improvisers too have their equivalent studies. In the case with improvisation, we need ideas. Where do we get ideas? What are ideas? and what do they mean when we speak of the blank canvas of improvisation? Allotments of space, different sounds, dynamics, texture, rhythm, melody, harmony... Like painters speak of 'painting from nature', we can speak of 'playing from nature', or 'composing from nature'. Cezanne said, "For the artist, seeing is creating; creating is composing." This further justifies my feelings that composition is just another form of improvisation - that all things are essentially improvisation, and that when we speak of 'composition' we could delineate between 'composition on to paper', and 'composition into air'. When people most commonly speak of Composition, they tend to mean 'composition on to paper,' where over time, one applies sounds and directions on to a surface like daubs of paint, overlapping, surrounding and complimenting each other over a roughly predetermined duration. 'Composition into air' in this case would then mean free, pure Improvisation, striving to listen for an equally in-depth look into the use of the elements, channeling as much content, flow, complexity and detail as something which may have occurred fluidly or arduously on to paper. Just like there are long and short work processes in painting -- equally valid lifestyles in the act of painting, the labor of painting -- for instance, the difference in approaches between, say, Pollack, or de Kooning, or Paul Klee, Picasso, Dali, Magritte and Balthus, or Cezanne, Van Gogh, Gaugin, Seurat, Degas, Monet, Corot... They are all as great as the other, yet in their own respects, regardless of what they may say of each other... The many 'sides' have plenty to learn from the others regardless of where they belong (though someone like Cezanne of course could never have known anything of Pollack, etc... But what would he have thought? What an interesting interaction that would have been! How fortunate we are to be alive today with access to such history and diversity!)
Like painters read through the works of the masters before them, we, as improvisers, after our many personal years absorbing and using jazz rhythm, sound and articulation, being ourselves in that world, growing alongside styles and innovations through performance, rehearsal, recording or perhaps transcription, we have an infinite amount to learn now from forms of classical composition on to paper - being able to read instrumental parts and follow the works like transcriptions of solos and play them up to the level of the definitive recordings, as Nature. Coming from our jazz rhythm and sound sensibilities, with a love and dancing passion for the making music originally, we have an advantage over most for turning classical music into something new, absorbing it more loosely, freer to do with it what we may. By learning to play these things we are taking our bodies through the palettes and landscapes of the music. Coming from jazz we have a deep intuitive ability to physically harbor these elements and experience the mind and soul of the composer-painter-improviser. Reading classical music is like reading facets of a greater solo, inner parts to a bigger picture... And, perhaps most importantly, it expands our senses of melody. To have underlying melodic principles, awareness and searching throughout improvisation, no matter how fast, slow, sparse, dense, textural or abstract, I think is key to not only keeping things interesting but for stringing it all together, creating a guiding intention behind each note, each space, so in fact, really, from beginning to end, the improvisation could almost be felt as One melody! The melodic elements of classical music can help awaken these gestural resources within...
When painters copy from the masters before them, they are in a sense going through the score, reading through the parts, rediscovering the elements of the work, its structures, techniques, how it unfolds, and the life of the artist who painted it. For the sake of having ideas and these sorts of foundations, classical music and it greatest recordings, for jazz/free improvisers in particular, are an unlimited resource for self-discovery, expansion on technique, harmony... how it can make us aware of new kinds of entrances of parts, breathing, dynamics, interactions, layers and statements open and suitable for us to make in the development of long or short form free improvisation. That when faced with the blank canvas now, when we've taken away the paper and strive for the compositional mindset spontaneously, we can tap into these things, these secrets of 'the masters' which we've rediscovered, deconstructed, experienced unfolding, or perhaps subconsciously fused together into new inventions altogether. And of course classical music is just one of many, many tools in which to thrive in this never-ending growth as an improviser... And life continues on and on in this way... because since the very beginning of time, there has been this Learning. Something learns from something else and evolves, is left on its own, and life is Improvisation... In human life, at some point, everyone must learn from someone, from something. Nobody can start from absolutely nothing. And yet we are each totally unique, a different branch of the same tree making life into what we may, being true to ourselves when we feel a path calling us...
"I glimpsed the world I needed to create to enable me to breathe." - Samuel Beckett
"How could the ancient past have answered my present question? ... What can man do more? That is what seemed to me important to know. Is what man has hitherto said all that he could say? Is there nothing in himself he has overlooked? Can he do nothing but repeat himself? ... And every day there grew stronger in me a confused consciousness of untouched treasures somewhere lying covered up, hidden, smothered by culture and decency and morality. It seemed to me then that I had been born to make discoveries of a kind hitherto undreamed of; and I grew strangely and passionately eager in the pursuit of my dark and mysterious researches..." - Andre Gide, The Immoralist
Taking a simple thing and deconstructing it, expanding it in halves, or it could just be a few notes, deconstructing it in order to find something new out of it, usually because the first thing you take to deconstruct is somewhat familiar, so it helps to deconstruct you out of habits and explore echo, implication and just what it is you're really saying and can get across in x-amount of sound... Just like it only takes 2, 3, 4, 5 notes, seeing the way intervals stack... Playing from the piano Scriabin's late Preludes, slow, quiet, mysterious...
How coming from jazz, classical music can give us new ideas for melody, new gestural material to find melody to bend differently... Melodic contours always stringing through the improvisation, and even if something is fragmented and cut off, spacious, it's still part of melody, how the melody never ends from beginning to end
About improvisation not heading into predictable situations... To play purely, never out of trying to outwit anyone, never out of trying to be the most clever... Avoid that at all costs. Refrain from imitation. Be totally open, patient, allowing sounds to present and establish themselves like brushstrokes on the canvas. Find the unpredictable places. Walk. Sit. Bask. Nature... Allow the complete echoes of what one states, for the nature to reveal itself...
The patience of painters
Watching fish... the "simplicity" of fish... A fish isn't trying to be anything else, a dog, a bird... it's just being itself... just like in improvisation we don't need to prove ourselves in complicated amounts of notes, in hundreds of notes like somebody else did, but just to be true to our nature... And watching these little goldfish in the bowl remind me of this again, it's so beautiful, and I think that's one of the reasons why people like having fish, because it's so simple, it's there, we've got it in its element, and we have it as this peaceful reminder, and I think that's what animals do for people... And in respect to this, in improvisation, finding these musical animals, melodic pets, and these things which we just sort of take for a walk, or put in a tank, or breed?
Beyond evaluation, beyond classification
In primitive paintings, the backgrounds of overlooked inner landscapes, vanishing points... the subliminal emotions?... but the surrealism of these sections of the painting not necessarily given close attention to by most. A window into that time, background emotions, distant spirits, forgotten unacknowledged people... That window into the landscape of that time, the loneliness and mystery of those times... How, for instance, Dali or de Chirico brought elements of this background into the foreground... the distant houses on the hills behind the castle walls as seen from within the castle... How isolated people/civilizations/cultures were from one another. How much uncertainty there was!
Grounding in simplicity, open patient temperment... Simple things with space. Tempos don't dictate, we can float on top, on top of the current, not struggle in it, not feeling like we have to do anything.
To give space, to let things echo, we remember the richness and beauty of simplicity, microcosms of life, line, rhythm...
From practicing outside we come to find new intervals, new collections of intervals, totally different tangents of intervals, systems of intervals, sim-cities of intervals... The distance from anything to anything is an interval.
To suspend harmony as we know it, to go further than harmony as we know it... Different bandwidths...
New ways to take control of the instrument, new ways to roll with it, tumble with it, toy with it...
For the improviser, that period of erasing ones memory... deconstructing notions... notions of goals...
Improvisation as a story that doesn't have a specific tale to tell but it's just about the act of the telling of it, the moment's perspective, an open collective telling, a gathering around the fire,
Trombone as sword; slide as archery; motion as yoga; breath as meditation
The pyramid of frequencies always there, architecture in the air, grids, bridges of travel, breaking through the speeds, feeding chains, soft spots, stretching past... In death how we stretch past and can't help it! We let go. No barriers, no shortcomings... In earthly life where things have stopped, stuck and curtailed into speech, into language, letters, hieroglyphs... The Body holds this, speaks this, explains this... We can stop to explain or we can keep going beyond body. People have different places they choose to stop. But nothing matters. Nothing matters. Nothing matters. Nothing matters. Nothing matters..... People have places they stop in life, places they stay and feed... We are each a different opening, a different source, a brook, a stream, creek, river, ocean, AN O C E A N....... No need to stop. Use it. Sing it. Use it. Sing it. Use it. Sing it. Use it. Sing it. See the inverse. Always know the inverse. See the inverse. Always know the inverse. Points of entry through the pyramid of frequency. Awareness of the frequencies... Some curtail, some get stuck, some are born wounded, die wounding, die wounding.... Don't die wounding. Don't die wounding... Use it. Sing it. Use it. Sing it. Use it. Sing it. Use it. Sing it. Use it. Sing it. Use it. Sing it. Use it. Sing it. Use it. Sing it. Use it. Sing it. Use it. Sing it. Places we stop, places people guard... Why? Why stop there? Use it. Sing it. Use it. Sing it. Look how wide it is, why obsess over it, why limit it? We can stretch. Don't need to stop where people or society tells us we need to stop. There's no need to stop, to prove anything. No need to prove anything. You feel it. Beyond the body. It's okay. It's okay... Draw the sky. Enter where it tells you to. Draw the sky to capture true vanishing distance, how one thing merges into the next, merges into the next... Capturing vanishing distance... You breathe with it and expand beyond the body then come back to body to explain to the people as a healer in the world of explanation, in the world of explanation. Why stop to explain it? No suffering... Eternally safe...
For Sound, motion, playing indoors is like playing in a mute. Nothing can replace projecting outside in the open air...
Improvisation as Dream, Life as Improvisation, Life as Dream, as Emotional Continuity. Dream Emotion, Dream Life, Dream Improvisation. Performance = Public Dreaming, attempting Pure Dreaming publicly. Laying oneself down in front of others to enter a meditation in exploration flowering the inner gravities of a Dream Vision. Bringing Audience into Dream with you, Projecting a Fabric of Tempos and Associations, Reactions, an Unknown Story... Improvisation not about being "Impressive", but Honest in the most Personal Dreaming, the most "Private" Imagination in Open Time. Pure Dream Emotion. Nakedness. Total exposure. Newness
Each rock as time, as each a quantity of time. To hold a rock, to sit on a rock, is to hold and sit on "time", to surround these capsules of time just as we each are capsules of time being surrounded. And yet "time" is only relevant to being kept track of. There are such different frequencies of "time". A "time" of no thought...
The earth doesn't know it's been named.
Drawn to the coast, the inevitable edge, gravity, play, water, tradition... If seen from above, we are like little insects in a creek.
Improvisation as a sort of existential listening, where the way we respond to the other(s) by just being aware of the raw relationships between material and developing off of those root structures and imploding on things. Because, yes, we know the "intervals" as a "response", those "clever" "harmonic" things, or trying to be as angular or obtuse as possible... God forbid anything done just to try and be "impressive"... This skirts the surface superficially, we can really go beneath the surface, infinitely in, stretching the responses, maintaining that openness, calm, intense unpredictability
To research and examine improvisation... when everything goes towards creating the most expansive improvisation experience, never just staying within the confines of the instrument, doing what we already know... but finding new reactions to space, new compositions... Just like the art of painting isn't about the reproductions, but about the act of Creation! The depiction of Dream!
Outdoor improvisation in practice being a give and take between things specifically technical, or more in about a certain melodic/spacial thing; or a rhythmic dance, a sort of trance on melodicism where it's just gesture, but then eventually catching a perspective of it which becomes a technique then to extract and explore, as if we're scanning the material of what we're doing, finding things to examine and develop; it's like microfilm...
The smell inside of an old piano, triggering the early memory of first smelling that... that smell combined with seeing it... those bones and tendons...
Orchestration in improvisation by layering associations, responses, suspensions, different pairings...
A tree's blood is sap,
A person's sap is blood
Sound doesn't have a name. Sound is sound. Nameless. To return to namelessness. Pure motion and energy. Thought on the plane of namelessness, a story of dynamics and imagery. Mythology.
The importance of practicing as loud as one can sometimes, because if not, how could one expect to really be prepared for the possible and unexpected surges in performance? The same could be said for, say, a boxer: if they don't ever train punching their hardest, how could they say they're ready for the fight, prepared for the feeling of forces?
Splice the Sound, the Imagery, the Film! This thing flapping in the wind... Put in indeterminate amounts of space, the hand of God with scissors. Awkward silence??? THERE'S NO SUCH THING. Nature isn't awkward.
A Steinway concert grand piano in perfect condition out in the middle of the forest completely surrounded by very tall trees; or the sound of such a piano alongside a highway, on the beach, on a large rock in the middle of a river, atop a snowy peak, in the middle of a rainforest...
Starlings flying together in such miraculous interconnectedness, like fish, like holes on a piano roll...
"Jazz", "Noise", "Classical", "Free"... These are all just labels... it is about us each finding our own music...
Not a transposition of notes, that keeps things still too much the same; but just a transposition of the motion, without "thinking", just letting go of those patterns in gesture, extending or shortening only the physical traits, not thinking "notes", shifting, displacing, relaxing, the body. And superimposing/blending that process with a harmonic, "notes" awareness, and juxtaposing indeterminately... Like working with an animation cell, but taking the image and cutting it in half, or in a random place, and taking that spliced portion and superimposing it on top of the other part. And doing this maybe a couple or few times over almost simultaneously, stacking, so that vertical/linear hearing in improvisation is like drawing, illustrating, laying things on top of one another similar to painting, scenery... and then the perception of seeing and elaborating on the abstraction, understanding where to let it keep breaking apart unpredictably, like water from a creek splasing against the surface of a rock constantly and always, always differently... THE SHAPES FROM THE WATER ARE INFINITE. Then like an animation in chalk: you draw on the blackboard, you take a snapshot, erase it, draw it again but change things slightly, take another snapshot, then erase that, and so on... You watch the finished product, you can still see the trail from the earlier images, the shadows, the powders, clouds, residue... Altering and animating the memory of what we've done and are doing, sequencing it, one thing relating to the next openly, unpredictably, compositionally... Seeing the way lines get plotted, splicing rhythmically in personal ways, touchy ways, and eventually you find a new Study; a novelty... and you start exploring with that and you're simply in a new place. You've parted that last layer of heavy coats in the closet and discovered... The landscape might be similar you have a newly evolved creature clomping through the terrain like an innocent puppet. Then the narrative, a story unfolds because of this sudden new perspective, new interaction, new responses and relationships, and there's no rush... Nothing specific has to happen or be achieved. It's like lucid dreaming. It becomes Creation. You just let it happen, project, and evolve...
Improvisation as composition. Composition through improvisation. Composing by improvising. Seeing score paper... Thinking orchestrationally, dynamically, spaciously... Development, exposition... But also complete freedom, complete curiosity; loose and natural, but always with the Ecstatic as possible, or an almost frightening texture, density...
Now after having taken the body through so much training, through so much motion = pitch training, now it's time to erase the mind of it, any conventional push and pacing of it... Erase the memory, open space up, as nature...
"Perhaps after the longing for experience, man's greatest longing is for forgetfulness." - Herman Hesse
We must be at peace with ourselves before we can heal the planet
Untying all the gestures we've absorbed, all the (sub)conscious motions in the arm, in the fingers, in the breath, the tongue, the mouth... letting it just go, not "thinking" about it... just the feeling of all these untied gestures, these things which have left such an impression on our hearing, our body, our dance, our memory, our technique... untying these things and letting them just hop and walk around; we've wound them up, they're like little wind up toys, and we just let them go and do their walk... not thinking...
A school of small fish flickering like leaves, interconnected so closely, so quickly as to respond in instant unison as an entire group to the slightest twitch in direction, the collective of fish all together like a single sparkling body, the outline of a larger form, a searching, digesting, procreating, interdependent form. Constant unquestioning change, impermanence, interdependence, bristling, rippling life
Dream images: leaves with veins, leaves as tongues on trees, vines, veins;
arms like sweet potatoes, a woman with bristley arms, sweet potato arms, body with the contour of a sweet potato
Evolution through improvisation, finding things and letting them evolve, giving them the space to evolve, just letting it evolve, never forcing it, just letting it evolve
Imagining something which isn't possible yet, and won't be for maybe another 1000 years: what it would look like to see a video of the life span of a tree, the thousands of years, sped up to maybe 10 minutes. To see time on its wavelength? Time as it passes through it, it as a life-form representation of time, fluid, dancing, rooting... The view of the tree is seen from back a ways, you can see its roots moving through the earth like worms, pulsing veins, like what? What are worms? What are veins? The whole thing breathing, blooming, erupting, responding to the seasons again and again and again...
Large outdoor art piece: railroad track with the tracks not parallel, occasionally pointing in different directions, jaggedly, smoothly, making it impossible to ride, these separating shapes... Sometimes it runs parallel, but then back to these angles... Between the tracks as usual those wooden floor boards and small rocks, just like the real thing
The evolution of one's musical language in life is like a sculpture, a sculpting...
People in the busy city streets like blood in the veins of the human body, moving in waves, rushes, pulses that work, that keep things circulating as it has to be; like traffic, like microscopic organisms seen under a microscope
Framing unobvious gestures of Classical/Romantic melodic/contemporary progressions by gestures and action of Jazz interval // Jazz interval framing Romantic melodic gesture and intervallic progression, sequence, using that to widen harmonic scope and drama...
The effects playing the piano has on the body! How it reawakens a wider span of intervals - a vertical readiness in the mind and body...
Looking at paintings we feel how each painting has its own pulse, it's own tempo, it's own dynamic ideas. And with music, how it unfolds differently in every country, in every people and individual, every day, every hour... and to search for that sense of diverse experience of pulse on canvas and time, of land and people, through musical improvisation — notions of how we move, treat space, volume, where our inspirations are coming from, how different our choices are, the nature of our energy and imagination, exploration, composition, listening, and without anything in particular to prove except our goal for openness and concern for Art, our awareness of "obvious" in relation to tone, rhythm, and interval... the stream of subconscious visual/event associations which come through the pacing of the sound work and/or collaboration... A story
Ruisdael's Landscape (1652)
... to have lived when there was no technology, so simply, so quietyly... Was the mind less cluttered? The sound of horses through the roads, long before automobiles, long before electricity as we've come to harbor it... To maintain a grounded, simple mind in the city today - to see through all the technology and electronic dependency - to see the quiet villages - to hear the horses and their carts, the emptiness
There is a sound I know I am going to miss when it's gone, and that is the sound it makes when one of my parents hangs up the phone - that sound from the weight of a hand setting the old telephone handset crashing down to hang up. As of today I know no one else who still has a phone like that and uses it...
I'm reminded now of the sound of old family cassettes, when the tape recorder used a hand held microphone and the sound it would record of it being bonked around as we passed it from place to place
When techniques become unified, we are ourselves a singularity, a Big Bang
The purity of the music of the Eskimos! Canadian, Mongolian, and Siberian people... and then the Tuvanese... How it springs from the earth, the land, and the nature and evolution of those peoples' bodies to produce tone
Musical enthusiasm is inevitably infectious
Surrealism with sound, with improvisation, with composition, with associations... To put independent associations next to one another like de Chirico did with this idea of placing furniture out in nature... The feeling that comes from really cutting the imbilical cord on these objects and seeing how they hold up on their own, and are almost social when gathered with other objects and associations... And that in sound is very possible to do, especially with technology today and the ease with which we can bring layers into the picture, like painting. Combinations which breed an atmosphere of feeling that reminds us of a strangeness, of a very dreamy and magical quality that reminds us of loneliness experienced as a child coming to terms with life, being in places and realizing that we have to make it on our own now, that we really have to survive alone. Facing that so calmly... So to be a Surrealist in sound, in music, like in painting with superimposed and gathered different things. Not random things, but pulled from the subconscious, and natural, mystifying, finding these new combinations and removing things from their conventional surroundings. Mixing up pieces of the puzzle, and seeing how it feels to have that, in a way isolating oneself even further to find these new strains of being
As musicians, as improvisers, our Palette, our Canvas, is collaboration. And like a painter approaches a blank canvas, we strive for this awareness on the blank canvas of collaboration in group consciousness, collective thinking, and respect for the pace and space which makes for a true work of the moment, doing the opportunity justice. To be open to the world with music and improvisation like Art is
This idea of not-practicing as in fact practicing
A brief awareness while improvising of whether or not what one is playing is really being Heard and sought out melodically in the moment, and not something habitual. Or the type of stripped-down gestures it could be to give oneself a chance to catch the mind up to the song of itself...
To record classical music outdoors, alongside the street or highway, and out in nature, with the space and noises, and acoustics - opening it up, turning into something even more nostalgic, current, atmospheric
? Tattoos as astrological, as constellations on the sky of body - places for tattoos being because of these constellations inherent in aggregates of pressure points or various tendencies in spots of energy, seats of personal power and focus on the body, embroidering over this, internal organs becoming external. Bringing attention to that spot, bringing out what's within/underneath somehow, a sign of how the person likes to keep it open there and raw, that spot on there body a focal point of power... And perhaps constellations in the sky represent these seats of power of sorts - these tattoos on a body which is too vast to comprehend and picture, that they represent the surface of something much larger
Our abilities to communicate (developments of internet, etc.) as expansion/advancement in evolution of human relationship/use of wavelength - finding ways of tapping in to other wavelengths
[ [Coltrane/Elvin Jones/Don Cherry/Monk/Ben Webster/old jazz] + [tone row Schoenberg, Boulez, Carter, Babbitt] + [Bach, fugue] + [Blues, Church, Gospel] + [India, Middle East, Jewish prayer/davening] ]
That brief glimpse of the subway cars running parallel in the same direction slower or faster, seeing people's faces, lives and lives of faces, and all you see is a few seconds at most, but feeling like perhaps you can retain the image of that face forever. And sometimes you lock eyes with someone, it's so brief, and that's all you get. How long will they remember you? Did it even really happen? I can imagine faces too: picture faces, assemble faces in my mind I've never actually seen... or have I?
Every day warming up and getting in touch with one's melodic material, improvising, getting into these coalescing major scales, pantonality - feeling so much better giving that a chance, one's melodic material, and feeling the significance of it for the body and mind.
What Thich Nhat Hahn says about protecting the senses - being aware/mindful of one's growth; sculpting the senses if you will... And so strategies in this regarding pertaining to life in New York city! Especially on the way to a gig, and surrounding improvised music
This idea of coming back to something - coming back to an acquired skill, a way of life, after years of having grown around it - and finding one's own way back to it, and something which is really great... Never just settling or being seduced by only what's taught or told to us by those "qualified" to do so... rediscovering it for ourselves over time, and at that point, with the increase of influences and one's own experience in learning things, finding things out through one's own research, investigation, the most fruitful work... Because when someone teaches us something, we're also learning how to search, seeing how other people learn, seeing how other great artists stand out in their own way through how they've searched and discovered things for themselves. So we open up to more of the world and these others ways of experience, of dancing - and eventually finding one's own way back to something, discovering it again through natural personal reasons, teaching ourselves now, seeing how all things are related... And doing it by yourself, and it's different... Now the perseverance comes in - how we have that skill here... The way motions our body has gone through over the years, stepping above, aside, back, in front of what one has already learned, and the body is naturally finding where to set itself into these intervals again. So these ways of stepping aside/back, seeing how far we can go into abstraction, for how long, this abandonment, this sense of real madness - part of an overall balance between finding our true style through this surrender to constant forward free-flowing and more recognizable "hooks"
This thing about Coltrane, about how materialistic/plagiaristic people have been with his playing - but remembering how when Coltrane was doing it, he was the only one doing it - evolving, pushing, practicing, going deeper... No one else was like him, he was doing that himself, coming up with that himself on the horn, and how incredibly complex that is, how brilliant that is - those lines, all that fast playing, he's really hearing that, he's never just doing it to do it, he's really hearing all of that, as was the case with all of it
A statesman — one who’s found things which are justifiably their own, original, to state them, to space them, space for listening for new implications, letting statements stand on their own as simple facts of tone and tempo. Not making concessions. At ease. A tree is also a statement, and of time.
Okay, the importance of technique! Really, to have the technique of other languages, technique in the linguistic aspects, rhythms... Things which give you things to go further... And the search of techniques in what one is already doing -- to search for growth, techniques that enable growth, new awarenesses of other things, because it is Sounds, it is Time, and we construct in it... Different techniques breed different tempos... And this search for techniques is curiosity. Having curiosity continually for new insight into what one is doing, constructing in space. Each artform has a different pace in which it is unfolded and built, which means the artist is in touch with a curiosity of space, and that in and of itself creates new technique, which is actually beyond "technique". It is a non-technique in a sense it is of Life itself. A resting in total awareness
In learning from the masters it's less actual notes sometimes but more about the progression/sequence of events - turns of abstraction, distancing in the ideas, melodic directions, harmonic echo, intensity
Similarity between painting and music-making: purity in "performance" / "presentation" -- as in the Artistic Life-Process, commitment, purpose... Painting done without an audience: how painters make their work in nature and then put it on display... And then to maintain this naturalness in public performance which one would have alone without an audience -- not taking the audience into consideration, pace-wise...
("I just saw “Fando & Lis” again. Thirty years later I am impressed with the intensity of my artistic determination. It is a pure piece of art without any concession. I didn’t care about how the audience would react. Whether they’d be bored or shocked. I didn’t care about all the technical research, like finding a rhythm for a scene for the sake of the audience. I didn’t work with the audience in mind. I just did it with all my guts. You can see the result. I am proud of this film because it is real." - Alejandro Jodorowsky.)
... the challenge of that -- of not identifying with notions of impatience and short attention span in audiences, atmospheres, performance spaces -- of maintaining the purity of the painter, alone, without an audience, in a pace that creates pure art, honest art, personal art, true art... Which is at the same time for the audience, how deep down it's what the audience really wants and needs, which makes them reflective on their own life, spiritually, creatively, artistically...
And what comes with all this is such a wide range of reactions! Like that which comes from a public seeing modern art, contemporary art in a museum... Some people say "what's the point of this...", "I don't get it..." ... they act with no need for it... And then others say "this is the greatest thing...", "this is just what I needed..."...
And the countless artists who came to be appreciated late in life by society because of their persistence of vision, of being unperturbed by the emotional challenges of being pure and true in one's life processes of performance, away from audience but FOR the audience in this sense, seeing and receiving the experience later, on display or with the audience present as it happens
They think now that everybody is actually born with perfect pitch -- that it just becomes a question then as to whether it's maintained, exploited... I think this could even be taken a step further and said that perhaps everybody is born a prodigy, it just depends on how they are raised, who is their to recognize their talents, and what sort of opportunities are provided for them as they grow up...
Oh to play with space! How to give that space where you're really giving what you've played a chance to get heard by yourself -- to really understand what you're saying, and stating melodically -- to allow the natural atmosphere and acoustics to echo and just do their thing -- to balance with silence and what was there before we were there, which is why we're there
It not being about notes anymore but about shapes, and categories of things which come from the shapes. Scales are just these series of motions and steps for the arm -- coordination between arm and tongue -- articulation -- tip of tongue, tip of hand....
Even the notion of "keys", of actual notes, even that is somewhat irrelevant... These are just NAMES, which have certain associations of combinations of gesture -- lengths of arm, articulation over partials inherent to that key, which make that key... things in nature
How the continuance of things when we're away seems like a dream, in the total absence of our existence in that spot things persist! And we are all born into different "levels" of awareness and in many ways our creative acts assert this... It is by being true to ourselves that we are true to others. Our time on earth is so brief -- we must open our perceptive channels to their fullest, the freedoms of love.... We are nature itself, sprouting insights, tides, storms, cavernous, mountainous
Seeing people treating life like a waiting room for death
A feeling of not being able to listen and receive fast enough! Music/sound as a slave to time
This era/generation of humankind is evolving through something which it never has before - which is of course relative and can be said of all times - but in particular this one in regards to technology, and in particular, in regards to artists having access to others' works, and in particular, musicians having at their fingertips music from around the world, and in particular, improvisers having now these impressions, resources, foreign gestures, tempos, melodies and so on and so forth at their energetic disposal 'round the clock. An awareness for choices - an abundance of influences which musicians have never before been able to have. We are in the process of undergoing an incredible evolution. Within the past 10-15 years, the mind has been exposed to an expansion of ideas and listening experiences which before used to be much more difficult if not impossible to "obtain". What a luxury! What an incredible time to be alive! These things teach us, stretch us... We have nothing to complain about. And so how much easier it should be for everyone to be original now! But at the same time, the internet and its connectivity has exposed such illusive aspects of popularity and success as to have very deeply marred the cultivation of patience, growth, the scope of curiosity, playfulness, abstraction and just pure art making. People have become overly concerned with how they and their work are received and perceived in the short-term. And overall, more attention towards this appearance of "triumph" and "success" is on display than ever - and the people that follow that, work for that, get paid by that, feed that, make it out to seem like that's what they're really just in this for, to appear on top of the world... And yet at the same instant there exists the option for a complete freedom from this - the loving self-reliance of creative individual thought which defies everything outside of itself, and is free from depending at all on anything but itself. As E.H. Gombrich put it so well at the outset of his History of Art, "There is no such thing as Art - there are only Artists." Because first and foremost, we are artists because it's simply who we are. "Artist" is just a word anyway, a label. We are essentially undefinable. Our true creativity defies career. Nobody can take away what we hear, see and feel. And yet people nowadays have become so possessed by these short-term notions of attention outside themselves, look, and image, that the scope and messages inherent in their work often just seem born to get fed to this modern monster of society... Nikola Tesla (among many others) puts it well in his autobiography of 1919: "A new idea must not be judged by its immediate results." "The pressure of occupation and the incessant stream of impressions pouring into our consciousness through all the gateways of knowledge make modern existence hazardous in many ways. Most persons are so absorbed in the contemplation of the outside world that they are wholly oblivious to what is passing on within themselves. The premature death of millions is primarily traceable to this cause. Even among those who exercise care, it is a common mistake to avoid the imaginary, and avoid the real dangers. And what is true of an individual often applies, more or less, to a people as a whole."
UNIFICATION: of the "techniques" which create the Sound, the Rhythm - the all-contained physical motion of attack on a note, on gestures - coordination of the body - with the trombone in its shape as Archery: All action as guided by the Air and clarity of intent from behind, the Chi; embochure and tongue as bow and bowstring (how similar a bow turned on it's side looks like a mouth!) - that supportive directing holding frame, the slide like the arrows, the channels for this vital energy sent through the space into and out through the bullseye of the bell - the Zen of body and instrument, the arms releasing the arrows, the mind, body and timing unified in this action of liberated style
When playing outside, when improvising outside, when recording oneself outside, placing oneself dynamically beneath the natural environment, not superimposing the usual things, finding ideas which dissolve in with the wind, the plants, the acoustics of earth, MUCH space... awareness of how much one is shifting and changing - that "city's" state of mind, of pace... And by recording we look at outselves and the behavior... The challenge, the exercise at times of obliterating awareness of there even being recording in the first place... almost doing away with perception altogether to achieve the most natural state of events, in balance with what we see in the abstraction through our lenses of "style" and esthetic... Overriding muscle memory in this musical atmospheric experience, dying
The ecstatic, spiritual, rhythmic experience... how WE ALL NEED IT.
Music and improvisation as church, liberation, dance
The benefits of practicing outdoors, in nature like that - the affects it has on the mind with improvisation, staying and exploring things longer, like the river flows the wind blows the birds fly the traffic goes... even trying to imitate these things, the intervals of branches in a tree, the number of birds on the water, the speed of passing automobiles, the rhythms of bird song, the combinations from texture to texture in the landscape... dissolving into the atmosphere, not making choices out of ego, oh it's so out of place! Nature has no need to prove itself... And then bringing these realizations indoors... bringing more of the outdoors indoors, especially in this city now
Technique as a means of getting further and into something different, not as an end in itself, but technique leading to technique leading to technique... Not something acquired for materialistic reasons or employed for flash, but to enable one to really find new ways of saying things, translating for the subconscious in the moment
Staying true to oneself and one's integrity, the challenges of this in some musical situations, improvised especially, the hovering invisible boundaries and egos, the compromises made at times, imagining suddenly what others want from you, being aware of that and the dangers of it and what can be an incredibly delicate balance, questioning whether or not it's even worth subjecting oneself to that, reflecting on the times when it's more or less or easier or more difficult, and how we train, work and gain experience and ability to really overcome all this completely
For improvisation, and coming through/out of jazz especially, notions of the importance of integrating a Musique concrète of sorts, the utilization of acousmatic sound (sound one hears without seeing an originating cause) as not only a 'compositional' resource for the collective and personal events, but as ways of opening up and stretching the dimensions of listening and one's own physical putting-out of sound - an exercise of patience, space, balances... Instrumentally making choices in this way, entrances which seem to come from left field, overriding muscle memory into layers and ideas which heighten the drama and overall scope of the music's possibilities... So, working with this balance in the small and large, in the brief and long, handling THE IMPORTANCE OF SPACE
SPACE. We all perceive it differently, treat it differently, create it differently. It's by use of space that we phrase, speak, allow others to speak... In group improvisation, to be on the same page as far as an appreciation and use of space is concerned is not always so simple. Group improvisation is group conversation. Not everyone is always comfortable with that, or prepared to talk about something different, of the moment, or of relevance, and that can raise rather interesting and intense junctures for reflection. First off, living in a busy city and in such a technological age can have a profound affect on the temperment of individuals and their awareness of space. Improvisation to them could simply just mean playing as much as possible, like entering a busy, commonly taken intersection, saying what they're used to saying, taking the roads they're used to taking, upholding a reputation in their mind, or just staying within the confines of their usual style. Is this improvisation? Of course, but it rarely leads to much new. Secondly, space, and the exposure it creates, can, with some improvisers, seem to make them rather uncomfortable. For them, the act of improvising itself is already more than enough to make them feel vulnerable or insecure, let alone to work with space in ways most condusive to the gathering at hand, which is certainly one of the challenges of collaborating in improvised music: we rely on others' interpretations of space. And it can take tremendous flexibility on behalf of players to incorporate such thoughtfulness into such opportunity - to step back and look at what's being said, contributed... To ask oneself what the levels of awareness are that are present, to sometimes wait until something new comes to mind... It takes ideas, dynamic levels, a sense of orchestration, composure... But there is nothing more fulfilling then having improvisers respect the group sculpture, balance and rapport. But just because one person applies space at various points in time doesn't necessarily mean others have to suddenly stop what they're doing. Certainly that space is not nearly as affective when it leads others to suddenly question themselves, become shy and peter out. It's quite a coin: one side with players unwavering and decisive in their usages of space, and on the flip side, much the opposite. For instance, and in another type of situation, as soon as the more prominent voice stops, it can expose players who prefer to stay hidden in its strength, in which insecurity and doubt set in and the energy buckles embaracingly. Perhaps that more prominent voice is in fact interpreted as coming from the "band leader," and it's not quite clear what they want in what's essentially considered "their music", and so the musicians left playing may be somewhat unsure as to how to interpret the space, how to fill the space, if it's being left as a means for new hearing, experimentation, branching further off, or moreso as a gap in which this most prominent player wants to be backed up and made to sound better than they actually are. Musicians are oftentimes hired because they make the bandleader sound good! They have a way of keeping the music of this person feeling new, when in reality it's not really. But after a while, if these roles don't ever change, then even that becomes stale. Then the elephant in the room needs to be confronted. What are we improvising for? Are we all in this for the same reasons? Treatments of space in art often run as deep as springing out from the ground itself - out of how the musicians are grounded on this mother earth. Music of different countries is very similar in ways to the land itself, how it is contoured and what goes on in it. It's not every day that someone living in New York City can say their bare foot touched the grass or sand or was immersed in water for some time. These things have an affect on the pacing of the individual, on the understanding between a group. It is important to touch base on these things sometimes before playing, to listen to music together... the dynamics of such grounding, nature-based, open and fundamentally experimental, poetic and spiritual situations. Muscle memory is no easy thing to transcend sometimes, but if there's a will there's a way, and if it's new music that's really wanted, oftentimes it's the amount of space in it which needs revision/expansion, and the connection between the collective of individuals needs to deepen and coexist on the subjects which spur on the personal work of each person in this life to begin with
Reflections on the trombone warm-up - duration: 1-2 hours - and the personal evolution of it over the past 20 years, as well as the benefits of doing it OUTDOORS, in unenclosed space, PROJECTING, clearing the mind, the YOGA of it:
1) long tones - FULLEST BREATHS in and out completely - four durations on each note beginning from a low E in seventh position, chromatically up to a high E-flat with swells in dynamics.
2) articulations - getting the tongue exercised (it's a muscle!) in multiple combinations through scales and random steps, from as slow as possible to as fast as possible - GETTING IT TIRED - also unifying attacks with air and the sound in one's head.
3) flexibility - lip trills upwards and inverted through the partials low and high, chromatically and in various steps and combinations - then loosening the slide arm, moving outside of muscle memory, feeling new shapes for the day and at times now articulating every other partial.
4) chromatics - scales and step combinations integrating articulation, flexibility and full breaths, getting the body going now, really feeling a sense of one's energy that day - crossing into improvisation and the ideas and techniques informed through that, which then leads into the primary field of practice - into techniques of linguistics if you will, opening up the vocabulary, examining and exploring the nature of things put together - THE BENEFITS OF DOING THIS OUTDOORS - the implications of simplicity to complexity, the flow of technique finding technique - stepping back mentally and feeling the various tendencies, surpassing habits, sensing potential
Hearing Ezra Pound read his Cantos (Pennsound: The Caedmon Recordings) is so informative to the work, to understanding the emotional currents of the text, familiarizing oneself with rate at which it flows and gets digested, by hearing its author's speech, the voice's tones and emphasis. The experience of reading poetry is so very different from other reading experiences, and this kind of poetry in particular, for it's not about acquiring information per se, or news... Reading poetry is an experience deep within the histories of human ritual, silence, story, life, love, violence, genius, suffering, dream, solitude... Of course this can be experienced with other forms in book too, as well as in music, if we hear the composer playing his works, or seeing a painter paint, a photographer shoot... There are countless experiences which benefit from this. I also recall when first reading Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (Osho)—and these were not books he'd written, but transcriptions of his talks—I remember digesting it rather quickly, but then upon hearing lengthy recordings of him speak, given after he hadn't spoken for some 1,300 days, it made such a deep impression, it moved so slowly, delicately, the air expiring to almost a whisper, just enough to enunciate words, that from then on it rang in my ears and guided the pace and phrasing of everything I read from then on by him. Same goes with after having heard Chogyam Trungpa, Charles Olson, Jorge Luis Borges, Alan Watts, Morton Feldman, Dylan Thomas, John Ashbery, Stan Brakhage, Kurt Schwitters, Charles Bukowski, William Faulkner, Gertrude Stein... Yes, for then reading transcends the mere printed page—the bound, designed, marketed object—once having heard the writer or speaker speak their life's work... And, if we haven't yet heard it, imagining having done so, hearing it in their voice
Stage, simplicty, yet complexity, story, character, humor, pacing, constancy, language, voice, pitch, rhythm, jesture, tradition—how long has been doing this? how did he learn?—relation to audience, posture, cushion, clothing, colors...
"too much time on your hands"
I can't comprehend it.
Days fly by
like birds in the sky
Intense and freeing phases of improvisation growthstudypracticeexperimentation to understand these implications of indeterminacy and a music concrète of sorts, and for jazz - attempting to generate such ideas, choices and atmospheres through one's single instrument, and over a considerable amount of time building up a vast body of material in which to draw from and use to balance out within all creative circumstances, strategies if you will - ways of overriding muscle memory and predictable space patters - and helping along the very personal process of coming full circle with much older influences/loves in the music which strings everything together
Driving back into the city from a desolate beach experience on Far Rockaway improvising & filming duets with G.S., we were discussing the various attributes of improvisation we strive for and he brought up a very interesting point about a temperament found in an improvisation which is loud, busy, with little space... A CITY MENTALITY. Questioned why we think it's happening, what IT is, ways around IT, ways of opening IT up
An exhilarating experience recently practicing alongside the highway, playing directly into oncoming traffic—melodic rhythmic shards at top volume hitting so many people one after the other as they flew past unable to stop (felt like I was in the internet), some just catching a brief glimpse and each with a different expression and reaction of surprise, joy...—projecting the most positive vibrations I had within, to all of them, getting inside their hearts and sending them on their way! I love you all
How to sound like a bell? ... through a weight of articulation, openness of tone, motion, duration - that period of nostalgia in the music
Teaching and/or curriculum can very much be about imparting the Art of Curiosity, and the earlier the better, and once the student has it, the independence that comes... !
Thinking about the hypnotic natures of melody and tone and then snake charming and what that really is, what's happening there, and various corallaries to human natures and activities
Feeling more than ever the importance of retaining the affinity with artists of old - painters, writers... - reading their writings, journals, letters, their autobiographies, staying connected to their work, their convictions, influences, inspirations, insights, patience... In this day and age there is such an incredible impatience and striving for popularity... Has it always been like this? Technology has created such a dependence on connectedness people seem more afraid to be alone now then ever. It has created nervous habits, and to be "always reacheable" has greatly affected the assumptions of mankind. Notions of 'career' and even 'success' (!) have become severely, (permanently?) skewed. Technology certainly has its conveniences, the internet is invaluable, and as artists we are no longer so isolated with our work as we used to be, but yet there is still a vital balance to be had in all of this, in a sense protecting the foundations of nature, intellect, temperament... One could carry on at great length about this
"Battle of Black and Dogs," by Bernard-Marie Koltes, directed by Robert Woodruff at Yale Repertory Theatre, May 2010 - [trailer] - Michael Attias did the music (we recorded it March '10) and translation and graciously invited me there with him. Afterwards around the dinner table with cast - Andrew Robinson (Dirty Harry), Tracy Middendorf, Albert Jones, Tommy Schrider - and friends. Very little to be said to such actors after performance. Perceiving the invisible laws of dramatic decompression and social solitude. Their roles, their lines must have been coarsing through their blood! Very vulnerable after such an event! And with another week of performances, I, as such an outsider to their production, held my tongue. It was more than enough simply to witness their interaction then, how they were coming back to themselves... Talk of never reading the reviews during a run of performances; how at some shows the audience felt very ungiving; how committed they are to the play, not giving a damn about the audience or what people think; how much more challenging the performance was with the stage so hot; how "on" would say the other was at certain named scenes... Riding back to the city on the train with Andrew Robinson and Tracy Middendorf, giving them their space in that downtime, listening to them talk as I closed my eyes to rest - hearing Andrew speak of the karma his character in "Dirty Harry" had, and how it so severely affected his career... I felt very fortunate simply to be around such events... inspiring, strengthening... How hard actors work! Such scrutiny they're under
Thinking of painters, and other artists not like musicians, whose life realms of collaboration differ so greatly from ours. How a painter, writer, poet etc. is almost always exclusively working within just their own personal realm, not adapting to someone else's creative-expressive pace and treatment of improvisation/creation... And the balance of facets within each of these different universes of artistic lifestyle, separately, but also with an awareness of as many others as we can, the affinities all creative beings of all ages can have with one another
Reflections on the transformations taking place in the Coltrane period of:
First Meditations - September 2, 1965
Live in Seattle and OM - September 30/October 1, 1965
Selflessness and Kulu Se Mama - October 14, 1965
Meditations - November 23, 1965
the real selflessness in his playing, but so intense, as with a congregation in church, the singing quality
and with First Meditations: lately so struck again by his genius there, strength, sound, use of air (always of course) but his way of capturing such specific emotions, simplifying(?), and to title with them ('Love,' 'Compassion,' 'Serenity,' 'Joy'...), and reflecting on how all that informed all his later playing... And this notion of performing like we practice and really kind of hearing him work with things like that on this record - always this willingness to explore shapes, inherent patterns, emotion by repetition, searching for these statements in the scale... In terms of improvisation thinking if in fact there should be anything different from it being public or private, this willingness to explore
In improvisation and playing always caring about what one is really 'saying' - the statements being made - intent and integrity behind every sound and rhythm, never just going through the motions - the notions of space (a period - a punctuation...) at the end of a statement/line (sentence), because it's telling a story**, and like a really good reader keeping the right pace, having a feel for the story, assertive, unwavering in the space and exposure... and then how something so simple can be so tremendous... space = pace... Such a relief to give statements a chance to be understood by exploring... As Paul Klee puts it: "he does not attach such intense importance to natural form as do so many realist critics, because, for him, these final forms are not the real stuff of the process of natural creation. For he places more value on the powers which do the forming than on the final forms themselves."
** In this brief snippet of talk in the studio before a take of "Giant Steps" - hearing Coltrane: "I ain't saying nothing, trying to just make the changes, not telling no story... no life story..." - and how they laugh about that trying to play the changes is a story in itself... But that's just it: HOW IMPORTANT TELLING A STORY was to playing - and back then especially, such Statesmen! Miles Davis, Monk... there were so many... different from today... - and with Coltrane what a story it is just being able to look back on that man's life! How in '65 how you can hear the transformations from month to month
Imagining Glenn Gould playing Ligeti's Etudes
Helmut Lachenmann concert at Miller Theatre, 1 April, 2010. Lachenmann there as piano and speaking soloist, the Signal ensemble conducted by Brad Lubman, the Jack Quartet... It was a revelation. The first piece, "Pression" (1970), for solo cello, was so quiet you could hear the slightest clicks from above in the ceiling where the lights were. Lauren Radnofsky's tone and gestures were meticulous as were the silences. With each gesture I imagined the hours, days, weeks or minutes that went by in between each idea set down, as they were of such value. The piece as a whole was an exploration of the cello as a body. The surface of whatever produced the sound was always the main consideration. "Beauty not only through refusing the customary but also through unmasking the conditions of what counts for beauty, such as the suppression of the fundamental physical prerequisites and energies, of the fundamental efforts—if you will of the concealed labor."
Which then set the stage for Lachenmann himself to play his seven piano pieces "Ein Kinderspiel," which introduced to me an almost entirely new, personal, poetic relationship had with the piano. They were exercises in curiosity, in evading any conventional form. Space was treated with such incredible sophistication and understanding, there were many surprises, different ways he found of striking harmony, achieving texture, as well as remarkable use of sustain pedal and resonance. Much of it I imagined could have been improvised in how spontaneous it felt, but yet there was such a clarity in the sequence of events, such a delicacy of choice, which I think can only come from the rate of actual notation. Enormously thought provoking. Incredibly original. Pacing! Oh, everything is pacing! How apparent that was in this music... From the associations in the mind to the notes, rhythms and harmonies themselves... The string quartet (No. 2, Reigen seliger Geister, 1989) was performed with such intent, such a group balance between sounds and gesture, it was completely enveloping. Spaces/silences were like glue. I was on the edge of my seat.
"Reigen seliger Geister—perception play: tones 'grasped out of the air,' 'air' grasped out of the tones. Following the adventure in my first string quartet Gran Torso with extraterritorial ways of playing the instrument—now long since developed by others in touristic fashion—here the reappropriation of interval constellations ('text') as 'facade,' as 'pretext,' so that their realization will enable the natural acoustic edges of the produced tones—their timbral articulation, their muting, how they fade, how the vibrating strings are stopped (for example, also altering the noise component by sliding the bow between the bridge and the fingerboard) to create, through the 'dead' tone-structure, a reborn object of experience. Thus, action fields determined by playing techniques are staged, transformed, shifted, abandoned, combined. The pianissimo as space for a manifold fortissimo possibile of the suppressed in-between values: figures that a sliding bowstroke makes vanish or arise within toneless murmuring, the pizzicato-mixture that, despite its fugitive fading, can still be prematurely damped in part, 'filtered.'"
And at the intermission Lachenmann said some very very interesting and confirming things... :
The second half of the concert consisted of his piece for large ensemble "...zwei Gefuhle..." (1992), which to me was like witnessing the rebirth of instrumental orchestration. Events flowed ahead one after another. Very little materialistic indulgence and conventional repetition (as can be so commonplace when used to attempt covering up lack of ideas?). As in nature, a beautiful thing occurs, once, such was often the case in this music. The way figures passed around, danced, lunged forward, coalesced... At one point when enormous chords resounded from the piano, someone was the there simply to lift the lid of the piano up and down. Such a sudden and striking reverberation! which was all the more stunning for the imprint it left on the music from that point on - such a personality, such audacity! Courage, commitment... In the music at times even the players were called to gravitate individually up to the piano and play briefly into it, once. Lachenmann was off to the side, speaking, calling out shattered statements, sounds... His presence in all of the music that evening made such a tremendous impact, played such a vital role...
"Whatever may sound is understood as twofold: it is material derived and transformed from the phonetic in many ways, and at the same time it is the debris of the traditional stock of affective gestures, newly considered as the sonic connection of acoustic fields that are variously articulated from within, like various volcanoes that heat up or cool down. Meditteranean sound-landscape in inhospitable heights; a 'pastoral' written in thinking over what linked me to the composer [his teacher, Luigi Nono, who had died in 1990] of Hay que caminar."
"What I want is always the same: a music whose cognizance is not a question of some privelaged intellectual training but just of compositional clarity and consistency, a music at once the expression and the aesthetic shape of a curiosity willing to reflect on eveything, but also so placed as to unmask any progressive illusion - art as freedom effected in a time of unfreedom." - Helmut Lachenmann
To play classical music - to read piano, vocal, violin, cello parts along with the great recordings, what that can do, exercising and training other physical and dynamic motion as it translates to one’s own instrument and air, pacing, the different emotional characteristics, phrase lengths, dynamics, vibrato, and then with these impressions on the mind and soul ... improvising sidways/backwards emulations/obscurations of these things somehow, and later, subconsciously, exploring in random sequences, deconstructing the motion and muscle memory, playing carefree, almost carelessly? and finding new and awkward flexibilities, intervals and patterns, implications, new techniques
The mind is a phenomenal place! Musical-artistic ideas and influences mate in the subconscious—what were initially emul-imitations are reborn into the universe of the present inspired fluent moment
In a type of group improvisation where there is no imitation, no boxing in, formalities, but just this forward-flowing
There’s more to life than music, and that belongs in music
Finding artistic indeterminacy via personal esthetic. Becoming unpredictable to oneself is a goal of artists… But now in this day and age there is a prevalent determinate indeterminacy. One must beware!
Freedom is sexual
Pure Art is an appreciation of nature, a celebration of life and personal “poetic” perspective, and needs no explanation—it speaks for itself—its maker is simply relieved to have gotten it out of their system, to have disappeared in all honesty of the moment, a conduit
What makes poetry
different from reality?
Is this a poem?
The improvising state of mind which is more about gestures, shapes, intervals with unassigned pitch, and spaces…a dance…—and then the harmonic and pitch-based state of mind, which plays its role in keeping the other side interesting, converting shapes into personal recognitions of melody, controlling gestures into more defined rhythms… There’s a sensitive balance between the two, and they both feed off of one another greatly, are receptive, yin and yang
Classical music gives an improviser new shapes to absorb for his own playing—new motions, gestures to call on in his own music, his own immediacy, with his own notes
Fearlessness in improvisation. Never blocking Hearing—what’s in fact heard before actually having been executed—the physical aspect of it into projection. In other words, it’s already “accomplished” in the body that instant before it’s sounded. Similar to Parkour and its “obstacles.”
The Singing state of mind—when nothing interferes, when everything, everything is singing
In art there are these sorts of “stopping points”—points where so many have chosen to reside and stay emulating. What else is our life really except our imagination? We feel things to be a certain way, totally different from how anyone else is personally feeling them, and that’s living our life. Even if two people agree essentially, their experiences are never the same. Each body is isolated. But then we must surrender to fantasy unhindered
The embouchure tears down and rebuilds
Improvising with people who are receptive. Conducting with ideas and initiative, loosely. Space is crucial
A balance between harmonic-rhythmic (vertical-horizontal) understanding, association, and pure action, non-harmonic/rhythm-locked thinking, a freedom from that state of mind allowing for developments to take place in the nature of just motions, a dance with the instrument if you will, which brings those indeterminate results to the harmonic/melodic-rhythmic fields. The two states of mind are receptive and feed off of one another greatly
A technological age like none other—of speed, information, connectedness—as if advancing ahead—but is this really good? It has created an even greater individual, collective, national, global impatience than ever before. There are aspects to technology which are becoming addictive, where the “reliance” factor is becoming so strong, the ego becomes practically parasitical to it, and perception of oneself gets increasingly distorted. A city is a product of technology. It moves at a speed governed by electricity. It is within these communities of connectedness and efficiency that we lose our sense of individuality. Mentality becomes polluted. The state of being an artist has now become more polluted by people wanting attention and popularity than ever before. IT needs environmentalists
A silent clear ocean open into place on the earth, how it has settled. Since before men knew time, the sources evolved, continued pushing with purposes not of their “choosing.”
Back in ‘91—some of my first real active inspiration—seeing these guys at their best, so many elements in play, such pressure... Really snapped me into realizing then that I too needed something, goals on such an emotional plane, something to care about so much. Of course, the competitive aspect is a whole other thing to be addressed, and then getting past/growing out of situations where there could even be any notion of intimidation by others who appear to want to be "better" at whatever it is. Critics thrive in competition - pitting things against one another, of course almost never actually being capable of doing it or demonstrating how it should be done themselves! In this sense we really have to get way past it all, and it's part of growing up and important to go through. Why? In what ways do these competitive aspects help music? At what point does it harm the art?
Any lack of “character,” “ability” or “inspiration” we detect in others or events, rather than identifying with it and holding it against them and the situation, during and after, leaving the energies as essentially “missing,” we must act immediately and supply all the more what we want ourselves, flowing like water in and around such obstacles, because it is really now about something only we’re needing to have here— what has become our expressive-individual mission in life! Something we can’t bare to be stopped from attaining… Only we as an individual can be responsible for understanding and providing this, unmaterialistically, and never wanting anything in return. We must not expect anything from anyone. If we think someone else is stopping us, we’re wrong. It is only us stopping us. It is only our “enlightenment” and responsibility. If we really want it, if we really know what it is, the feeling, the fantasy, we cannot be stopped. It is beyond mere mind. Our life is about fulfilling this as it evolves, constantly staying in touch with it at its purest and never being held up by disappointments. There will always be room for this energy in the exterior because there is only one of us to give it— as we each contain a totally unique fusion of experiences and ideas which connect and assemble within us into our vision and projected spiritual aims
How important pacing is! i mean, it's everything really, but not everything. how to recognize the amounts of space being given by others, how much may also be missing, how much space one is giving and using, and understanding all the general elements and forms in action. disciplining the emotions and personal intentions through a greater awareness, observing the mind, the blood's pulse, for the sake of making collective spontaneous art! patience and maturity to step back or stand still and just wait, to suppress habits, to watch. to figure out what unique is going on and how to fit in to assist in its development, hearing something else unique and of the moment for the sake of group potential. to not allow any illusive "pressures" to form in the development of this task just because it's going public. like mathematics, these unique worlds of formulas which can derive every time from the experience... all this in regards to improvisation in music, it of course also pertains to much more than that and often without us even knowing it
Work now faced with, “should this be put this out there? What will people think? Is this ready to be let go of?” Often, later in life, to discover a new art form, initially it begins as an aesthetically private process. We aren’t sure yet what’s being made—we haven’t completely understood its purpose for ourselves yet. But when we do—when a level of balance between understandings within us is reached on the matter—when it’s been given enough time to grow (minutes, hours or days, months or years) into a real new form of awareness, letting go of it into the world is a most invigorating thing, and then we keep moving, using it as a springboard into whatever’s next. It’s like suddenly having a new wardrobe or understanding another language. And for the sake of music, a need for experimentation which often gives birth to a hybrid style
There comes a point in life when, as an artist, a musician, an improviser, as a creative human being, one has absorbed enough influence, enough inspiration from things, from styles, from tempos, from techniques, emulated others enough, that, when away from it all, the flow of ideas that come in a freedom of your personal progression, it becomes overwhelming and demands that it no longer be put off. Your calling. The inspiration of freedom, and the freedom of inspiration. It becomes the path, and there is no other like it. The knowledge one has acquired has enabled growth into unseen creative realms which begin to beckon so desperately—things, expressive situations, which aren’t yet present externally, given out into the world yet. Fusions within us of expressive commonality, experience and spirituality have begun to form a never-ending puzzle. A picture which can never become complete, that changes and grows, that can never really be solved. One’s life depends on this! The important process of realizing one’s full potential can never be overemphasized because it can never be a finished task, it is always an expanding process. One sees life around them, in such early developmental stages, boxed-in along with so many of the widespread indulgencies and attentions, creative or not. As individuals we must give and release what it all means artistically for ourselves, and for no other reason except that it is what we have to do—a primordial calling to answer our imagination and creative fantasies—what are we seeing now, hearing now, feeling now. No one else needs to tell us what we should or shouldn’t do. Constantly experimenting in ways to challenge oneself further, past previous “ability,” finding the new passionate truths of the moment. We keep moving. One thing flows to the next. There is much energy. This is our “work,” and our life is our work
To open up further to the point where there is hardly any falling-back-on older melodic/rhythmic/positional “successes” or instrumental ways which stop up the stream from flowing fully ahead in the truest sense of that, like Time, constant Nowness, not reverting back to things for lack of better purposes of expression. Non-compliance to illusions and their attemtps at superimposition. To go so far as to simply have an unawareness of perception. A totally clear conscience. Is that what death is? Freedom from the clamps of consciousness - the grips of the mind? Once circulations ceases, is the soul then released out from the shell of the body to expand beyond all earth-stuck things, unfixated by perception? Is enlightment that? - a power of awareness through the Self which continues to hold the soul within the body but freed from the restraints and attachments of the mind and ego? As described in the Tibetan Book of the Dead, there are still paths encountered once "living" ends, based on the nature of the death, which if understood while living could perhaps "soul-subliminally" inform us of what "we" may face, and how to prepare for that - how to guide our soul through to the realms of that which it is most capable, if not completely free, in which it is then reborn through the links of its human-bound natures into yet another body of some kind
With much power it is important to remain relaxed, unfixed, flexible and adaptive to change
Idea for a concert stage/listening space: shaped exactly like that of the perfect human ear, but turned on its side, rising off the ground at the edges up to 100 feet, the performers placed directly in the center, where the canal would begin. The audience would be placed accordingly within how the cartilage is shaped, as far out from the center as the ear lobe. There would be no ceiling to the "space," just as the ear has no cover. It would be the size of, say, a high school auditorium, constructed of a soft, rolling wood, with velvet paths and seats. The full sculptural design would be identical to the ear of an especially sharp listener (i.e. Glenn Gould, etc.). Shoes would be left outside and there would be a change of clothes given - silk robes. This listening arena would be found ideally in nature, the forest, or in an open field, without neighboring sounds of traffic, construction, human consumption, etc. Many concert halls are now being constructed in this circular fashion, with seating surrounding the stage on all sides, which I beleive is a step in this direction - emulating the actual shape of the human ear. I do realize that the ear is meant for taking in and not putting out, but yet, thinking about it...
Which then brings me to the thoughts of this importance in having/hearing music presented in nature, surrounded by trees, water, hills, sky, animals…(Of course aside from the deep importance of just solitary experience in nature, sounding ones body, trajectory of air in an expansive and extended "practice," reducing the thoughts, yoga, alone, minimally clothed...). Performers which can be freely approached from all sides, heard from any angle, where the listener is unfixated to an experience-point based on price, time of arrival, etc. How then the music's honesty and clarity comes across so fully in an environment which is in fact "music" in itself, in need of nothing more. Wind through the trees, water along rocks, birds, space
The feeling deep within of knowing something no one else knows, namely, the roots and purpose of one’s own particular individuality and life. Spontaneous (“free”) improvisation has become such a means to shake oneself of all habits expressively, artistically, publicly or privately. A bridge to expand awareness beyond the beyond, into forms outside of forms to the point where there are no longer distinctions (a “more” or “less” of anything), systems, techniques, clinging… No interferences of the mind or “outside.” True, personal immediacy, because that is it, and yet nothing at all. Flowing flowering things and overwhelming beauty of inevitability
Among many other things, free-improvisation has the ability to capture full journeys of the soul and life represented as they are. There will always be a birth and a death—always a beginning and an end—but in this case, by choice, as we then become the Creator. This means an opportunity to experience and present the making of a path taken by the spirit towards its reason for existence of total enlightenment, returning to the essence of Creation itself. Pure, fully embraced realization of one’s true self, individuality, and purpose in life, may be given to uplift others to awaken to the their own true and unique vocations, completely and for the sake of the people of this world and universe. As a musician, the body releases its air, coordinates its muscles, projects its sound, to become so immersed in the unique nature of its own Life that nothing can stop it or get in the way. It all must be overcome and gone beyond, above all illusions, blockages, attachments and segregations of the mind! This is a total religious power which can raise each and every one of us beyond the insubstantiality of dreams, hierarchy, materialism and ego, into a spontaneous display of the soul’s virtuosity and infinite forms—indefinable expressive truths for us all. Let go of any conceivable doubts and proclaim one’s Love for all!
What is it with people feeling they need to establish laws? What is teaching? Teaching passes on the tools necessary to awaken that which can defy any such laws once these proven things (tools) have been put to the test honestly and understood fully. One will naturally fuse the inner elements into the Path of individual creative living—in a sense, realizing one’s own soulful Laws which expand daily and raise them higher. It is unfortunate though how personal, intense, instantaneous superimpositions of Laws people have clung to can block perception, create false judgment, segregates….. One’s own laws and powers must awaken that which is within others, not inhibit it. In everyone’s life, there comes a point where they must defy all “systems.” The greatest, most powerful Laws are the facts that we’re simply just born, experience something called love, and die
The importance of experiencing/embracing solitude in nature, away from superimposed social-conventional limiting influences of the constant pulsating society, and seeing the Life in all things surrounding becomes a matter of finding new doors of spiritual perception which greatly uplift the nervous system's ability to "let go" so to speak and include all soulfully guided spontaneous manifestations of "artistic" taste and natural values in all things combined in all directions infinitely