On Music Improvisation
Improvisation is the purest form of music. It is not associated with style or precedent but rather with total listening, a form of meditation in action. Total listening creates deeper awareness within and beyond music.
The activity of listening may seem passive but it is not. Every note and sound encountered is imprinted in the body in every conceivable way. Through the performance of music and specifically, improvisation, we become equal partners with sound. We are creating sound and being created by sound simultaneously.
It is imperative that we choose quality sounds to listen to and perform because the profound influence of sound long outlives its initial hearing.
Quiet music deepens the listening experience because it exposes silence. It is tantalizing because you can almost hear silence. The attempt to hear silence is why music is created and new forms of music are created. Music is just a way of attempting to articulate or delineate silence.
Silence is synonymous with perfection. Silence is synonymous with possibility. Out of silence arises potential. Silence is capacity. Silence is an empty vessel.
Music and its expression through improvisation creates opportunity to express the infinite because the music is unfolding in real-time without constrictions or reservations.
Music is merely an attempt to make us more aware of silence. Improvisation allows that to happen in manifold ways because choice is the
Improvisation in public allows us to collectively become aware of silence. The music that is heard is the text. Silence is the subtext. It is silence that moves us. A melody or chord and its locus in space is beautiful because it implies that there is something more or something less that meets the ear.
The improviser is responsible for allowing the listener into his/her conversation.
For improvisation to be real, a musician must be aware of his instrument and the rules governing the language he/she is trying to transmit. However, over reliance on these two elements creates a craftsman and not an artist. Once the rules are understood and respected, they must be transcended.
The improviser has a responsibility to respect the listener. If his/her music is too abstract then the listener becomes isolated. However, if we only perform what is currently acceptable, then we are actually insulting the intelligence of the listener because we think they are not capable of understanding our communication.
It is critical for the improvising artist to never become cynical in this regard and go for easy choices. We form a partnership with the listener that allows us to freely and publicly create but to know that they are just as much an element of the music as the structure, melody, and harmony. To know that someone else is listening to our music is of paramount importance. The performer's ego is removed when he/she is in touch with the listener because he desires to share. The joy of improvisation is that this discovery is made in the moment. The performer strives to let the listener know that the music, unlike conventional forms of popular or even jazz music, is not pre-packaged and therefore subject to change, sometimes for the better and well, other times . . . we try again !