I had the pleasure of performing with the ensemble SONE (separate post about this) at the Immediate Music Festival in Denver, CO on April 29 and then (2nd half of the concert) watching the remarkable Dino J.A. Deane use Butch Morris’s system of Conduction to create music with his virtuoso ensemble FLUXCREW. I’d heard about Conduction for a long time, but have never had the pleasure of being at a concert until this one. It was terrific – I enjoyed it all immensely. Dino says that he will be coming out with a book on Conduction soon – I expect to be first in line to get a copy! Anyone, here are clips from that concert – enjoy!
I am on sabbatical this semester, alleluia, and have been having a most informational, inspirational time, traveling around, meeting amazing people, renewing auld acquaintance, giving workshops, concerts, taking lessons, eating and sleeping badly, and generally having a marvelous time. I will definitely need a vacation after all this, but in the meantime, I am salting away tons of creative compost for coming months and more.
One of the wonderful days was when I was invited by the remarkable Mark Harris to join in his Immediate Music Festival at the University of Colorado-Denver on April 29. It was a great day of performance, demos, and presentations, delightfully capped by a 2-part evening concert. In Part I, I had the deep honor and delight to join the fabulous ensemble SONE (Evan Mazunik, piano and Soundpainting conductor; Mark Harris, alto sax, Jane Rigler, flute(s); Janet Feder, (baritone) guitar) in concert, which consisted of several improvised pieces plus making the music for two silent films. Rather than give you any worded description of this concert, I will paste a link to a video of the entire concert below. Enjoy! [Part II of the concert was in another room, where Dino J.A. Deane gave an amazing demonstration of the gestural improv system Conduction with his ensemble. It was my first exposure to a Conduction concert and I was stunned and delighted. Dino says he is coming out of with book on Conduction soon; I plan to order the first copy.
Link to the video of the concert:
By Doug Hanvey
As a music teacher, and former instructor of an undergraduate class on mindfulness meditation (at Indiana University Bloomington from 2007 to 2014), I am fascinated by the many possible applications of meditation to music. One of these applications is creativity.
The Source of Creativity
Albert Einstein said “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science.” Like most geniuses, Einstein understood that the source of creativity is beyond the mind. And, of course, what is beyond the mind is mysterious – at least to the mind!
Musicians can upgrade their creativity by becoming more familiar and comfortable with the mysterious place from which all thought and creativity arise. Meditation is a proven way of doing this.
Now, I realize that by using terms such as “beyond the mind” and “space of awareness,” I can be accused of New Age philosophizing that has no practical relevance to everyday life. Yet, as evidenced by Einstein’s appreciation thereof (not to mention that of many other artists and scientists), getting comfortable with the space beyond thoughts is as practical and useful as tying one’s own shoes, particularly for creative activities like improvising.
Meditation is a superb practice for any creative musician. Let me tell you about two types of meditation, both of which I’ve practiced extensively, and both of which I’ve found to be extremely powerful for boosting creativity.
In the beginning, when clouds were God’s breath, and buffaloes roared without fear, and time was uncounted except by death and birth and the sky darkening, there was performance. And it was never counted as special or apart because it was and it was what happened and without it we thought there would be drought and insufficiency and possibly war when you wanted peace, or peace when you wanted war. So we moved and shook and spoke in sequences of unidentified languages and evoked harmony in ourselves and terror in our enemies. And we urged ourselves good fortune and bonded with each other and reinforced ourselves as tribe of reindeer or mountain or lyre bird.
Jeffrey Agrell, horn & Werner Elmker, piano improvise on the whole tone scale.
One of the great things about improvisation is that you can have a musical conversation with anyone who ‘speaks the language.’ I met Werner Elmker indirectly. Werner is an amazingly versatile and talented pillar of the artistic community of Fairfield, IA; my wife (Shari Rhoads) had used his video and photography services for her arts organization Concertia, and she recommended him to me to do some photos for my new CD Soundings. So I connected with him, and it was a very successful photo shoot. As we got to talking, I found out that he was and is both a classical pianist as well as an improviser and fairly quickly we resolved to get together and make (up) music. So I went to Fairfield recently for some spontaneous duets with him. The video here is one of them, filmed on the stage of the Sondheim Center (Werner used remote control; when he clapped, the cameras started rolling. What an age we live in…). We did minimal planning in the improvisations. Here we just picked a scale and started playing. A one-time shot. It was a wonderful session, all the things that improv does so well – a musical conversation where you just play and listen and react and go and create until it seems time to end. I look forward to the next time we get together.
My new CD “Soundings” was just released on the MSR Classics label (msrcd.com).