Only those who attempt the absurd can achieve the impossible.
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Only those who attempt the absurd can achieve the impossible.
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.
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.
The act of making music, clothes, art, or even food has a very different and possibly more beneficial effect on us than simply consuming those things. And yet, for a very long time, the attitude of the state toward teaching and funding the arts has been in direct opposition to fostering creativity among the general population. It can often seem that those in power don’t want us to enjoy making things for ourselves – they’d prefer to establish a cultural hierarchy that devalues our amateur efforts and encourages consumption rather than creation. … Capitalism tends toward the creation of passive consumers, and in many ways this tendency is counterproductive. Our innovations and creations, after all, are what keep many seemingly unrelated industries alive.
– David Byrne, How Music Works
Wonderful radio interview with Western Michigan University Horn professor Lin Foulk and a WMU horn quartet doing some improv! Don’t miss it!
Apparently Soundpainting and Conduction aren’t the only ways to use gestures to organize improvisation in groups…
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.
Once a student has begun improvising, and once the barriers of self-doubt and self-consciousness hav...
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You don’t have to practice boring exercises, but you have to practice something. If you fi...
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