A piece of music in which the activities of the mind have no part. It is a hypothetical improvisation imbedded in the reality of the body; articulated and informed by it, that is beyond mental projections and codes. Its rhythms are dictated by the rhythm of the heart. In this instance, follow the pulse of respiration since it is more difficult to hear the heart while making sounds.
Do not think to play a rhythm or pattern of notes, but instead observe the body in its dance and movements. An economy of gestures.
Do not think to play this or that note, or to engage in playing the instrument in conventional ways (i.e. plucking strings while pressing specific frets or blowing into the mouth piece while pressing keys etc…) but view the production of sound (not notes) as a gestural interaction with a ‘sonic’ object – so it looses its identity as a musical instrument.
Do not think to perform a display of technical prowess but consider each gesture which makes the sounds and how such sounds harmonise with the surrounding silence.
The room we are in is like a lake. As we stand or sit here, we are caressing its surface. Allow gentle movements to emanate sounds from your body/instrument. Play as quietly as you can so not to disrupt the surface of the water. Allow sounds to sustain. Draw simples lines as you draw breath but do not forget that inspire is always followed by expire. Allow your sound to expire too [long or sustained sounds does not mean the repetition of the same note!] Respect your instrument for what it is. The length of a sound is what it is. Playing it often or louder will not make it better. Rather, focus on the precision and quality of spirit which produces that one sound.
Of course, listening is essential. There are two modes of listening involved:
- listen to the whole of the sounds which permeate the room like one who contemplates the surface of the lake in all its aspects. A global view made of all its details.
- a focused awareness of the sounds which one’s gestures happen to make – in relation to the whole. Focus on the minute details, timbre and texture of your sounds, i.e. the delicate harmonics, overtones one can make out when playing at very low volume.
Do not think to leave a silence here and there but instead, understand that ‘silence’ is only an opportunity to discover subtler sounds below the surface.
Do not think to play or not to play, let the room decide, let your body do the move when it happens naturally, do not think to generate a movement.
Do not think.
This piece will be exactly 20 minutes long. It is a meditation. Do not think. Calm both mind and body before entering the piece. Calm your need to make sounds. Sounds will find a way to express themselves through you at the appropriate moment. Thoughts may arise. Be aware of them, they are part of the soundscape. But instantly let them go like you will allow your sounds to merge into silence. The purpose of this piece is to be aware of the thresholds between sound and silence. Observe the transition points, when sound stops and silence begins.
Inevitably, there will be ripples on the surface of the lake. And the ripples will echo, create other ripples. Meeting separating, crossing, reinforcing each other and spreading to the edges of the room, to the shores of the lake. But do not mistake ripples for waves. We are not lost at sea. There are no rollers and no movement is hidden beneath the surface. Do not allow ripples to disturb the sediments which lay below.
As we progress into the piece, and deeper into our meditation, we will become aware of subtler details and interactions and this will be reflected in both our state of (no)-mind and in our playing. Gradually, we will be more and more aware of the richness and movements of those fewer and fewer ripples. More aware of the wealth of information we find in the space between sound and silence. Contemplate the subtle overtones and consider how they bind together the ambient sound, in the understanding that the self is not mind, that the lake is not made of ripples but of an all binding and consistent element that is water. That ripples is not its natural state and instead that water is only there to reflect what is above, unfragmented, to reflect the brightness of the moon which shines, it self a reflection of…
hervé perez, January 7th, 2010