The Experience of the New and the Renovation of Experience


THE CHALLENGE OF THE NEW

Recently I’ve been thinking about the challenge of the New. In particular, the challenge to the ears contrived by anybody composing ardent real New Music. I am involved with groups who seek to play, or have played, what might be called ‘modern classical music’ in public places. While they are intrigued by the act of walking past pop-up musical performances in the street or in a gallery of some kind, public people appear to have a constant problem paying for getting their bums on seats ready to listen to a formal programme in an auditorium.

It’s one thing to be involved in creating New Music and quite another getting people interested in your artefacts. To some extent it doesn’t matter because, as I know very well, having composed in a performance-free zone for many years, it could be just a participator sport, audience-irrelevant; but if one wants to build a reputation of some sort to establish certain credentials then the question of how to hook people becomes important.

But should the effort to hook them ever be made? Is it justifiable in some way? As a composer should one sell one’s soul for the bubble reputation?

In any case, I wouldn’t be seen dead at a pop concert and, if I am to leave the house, requiring something more challenging to the ears, my bum has not been on a seat at a Tchaikmozmaninovsohn concert for many years.

People will assert that they know what they like and that’s that – while anything New nearly always carries with it the taint of being ‘hard to digest’ – it doesn’t work on the palate in the same way as conventional fodder does; it’s a matter of satisfying the digestion.

Assuming one might wish to indulge in the surely laudable aim to help extend passion & interest, how does one educate the palates of people who, probably quite rightly, just want to be left alone to follow their well-established habits? It is a matter of education.

Having taught myself whatever I need to know about what I call ‘music’ many years ago, I often wonder how it was that I just took to whatever came up without formal training or guidance. How was I driven? Having heard the word on the radio, I remember at the age of around 4 asking my mother what an ‘opus’ was – she had no answer which maybe put me on the road to finding out…

MY MUSICAL EXPERIENCE

Back in the early 1950’s, after I had put a great deal of the standard classical repertoire in my pocket anyway and become capable of whistling my way through all the Beethoven symphonies among many other things more obscure, because it seemed to me that it was just what you had to do to be a genuine item of a human being, I became entranced by the very initials ISCM (International Society for Contemporary Music) and made a beeline for what was then included in their concerts (Cheltenham figured greatly, I seem to recall) – Rawsthorne, Bliss, Lennox Berkeley, Tippett, Racine Fricker and so on. Thereafter I did my bit keeping up with Stockhausen & Webern & Schoenberg & Penderecki (oh, the St Luke Passion on a summer evening in 1966) on my own and going down the byroads of Mahler (byroad as he was late 1950’s) & Havergal Brian & Robert Simpson & Arnold Bax, all the time making an effort to compose, without quite having a direction, though there were a lot of experiments. One contained an instruction for the audience to bring flints to accompany composed music for two cellos, recorder & piano by walking around banging on radiators and chairs etc while I declaimed a little piece by Hermann Hesse which begins ‘This stone is stone…’

Unaccountably, the very words ‘Contemporary Music’ have always filled me with joy & excitement. Being consumed by other things for some years, I had assumed that it didn’t exist any more till I went to a CoMA Summer School (Contemporary Music for All) for the first time in 2006 and met Michael Finnissy. That was a real life-bender. His workshop that year reinforced my notion that proper music is painting with sound, Jackson Pollock style – highly controlled & deliberate dribbles & splashes of sound. I’m so glad I had no musical training early on.

The word ‘music’ is an abstraction; or else it’s a polymorphous concept supposed to represent lots of different things from pop to rock to jazz to Beethoven to Schoenberg to John Cage’s 4’33” & right up to the Music of the Spheres.

Harmony of the World

There’s music in everything: the tapping of the word processor keys with the counterpoint of clock-ticking and very quiet inner workings whistling in my ears and the constant hum of the computer; the grinding of coffee beans and the noise emitted by any large pump. We just have to listen & notice what we’re not normally noticing.

In ordinary life, unless it’s suddenly very loud, we take sound for granted – we don’t deliberately listen for it. Listening is a matter of attention. “Just listen to that!” Blackbird just before the rain comes…

What’s more, we take it for granted that we perceive wholes – in music, whole tunes, whole cadences, whole symphonies even. We are programmed to imagine that we get a whole unitary experience when we listen to music. As a result, it’s fairly usual for we listeners to have been programmed into wanting some whole recognisable melody. But the brain is not like that at all.

Since we are not so focussed on sound, ears being backwards in coming forwards, but very familiar with having a visual experience all the time – it’s all there in front of us unless we close our eyes – in order to understand the way the brain processes incoming stimuli it’s maybe relatively easy first to think about what we see through our eyes; though we do have to focus to see properly, we don’t have to tune in and out, as it were, or switch on the radio or play the bagpipes to have a visual brain experience.

Neuroscientists will assert that we take it for granted that we perceive whole things, cat, house, garden, pen, pump and so on. But a lot goes on behind the scenes: we actually see anything but wholes; we see, quite separately, shape, colour, form, movement, bright & dark, minute changes in each, all done by different parts of the brain and it seems there is absolutely no place at all in the brain where it all comes together; what we see are fragments; what seems unitary is an emergent property of huge numbers of different maps managed by neurons. Somehow or the other (neuroscientists are not sure how – they call it the BINDING PROBLEM) everything comes together. Part of the answer seems to be that the emergent property we experience as a unitary event is (dare one say ‘simply’?) the result of temporal proximity; it all goes so quickly: there are fragmentary records deriving from past experience stored in multiple sensory & motor regions across the brain that result in fleeting blendings of reactivated fragments in a very tight and intricate interval of time.

The blending we do in an other-than-conscious kind of way is a very basic process; we get what we call ‘meanings’ from it. Furriness, a slight shine, whiskers, a wobble and a stretch, shape, movement of paw, tail, ear & mouth & staring eye & grey tabbiness – the incoming stimuli make themselves up in a split second into the familiar cat – every last detailed stimulus managed by different parts of the brain.

But ‘meaning’ is never a single once and for all event – it’s a dynamic & variable pattern of connections across many fields of experience. Thus the ‘meaning’ of a piece of music…

Whenever there’s talk of ‘meaning’, I think of what Ben Nicholson said to somebody who asked what the ‘meaning’ of one of his abstract paintings was: ‘when you see a tree standing in the middle of a field, you don’t ask what its meaning is…’

So what?

Ligeti – Artikulation – YouTube
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71hNl_skTZQ

Watch and listen to this. If your brain were contained in some e-gadget, while you’re watching & listening with attention, the computer screen would light up (neurons & synapses) all over the place to indicate multiple events in every corner of it.

Watching & listening to Artikulation, much of what’s depicted in this diagram happens: some part of your brain is registering the movement of a vertical along a graphic score; as it gets used to it, another part of your brain is anticipating what comes next, forecasting sound; another part will remember what went before and make connections; another part will be responding to colour & shape; you will register single notes, notes that bend & blend, building to clusters and chords; another part of your brain will register the distinction between loud & soft, long & short and changes in general, both graphic and auditory. You will be emotionally stirred in some way.

The upshot of this is that our brain is capable of so much more than what it has grown used to in the survival service of habit. We only normally use a very small portion of our brain. Reassured that neuroscientists don’t have all the answers, with even a rudimentary knowledge of how the brain processes incoming stimuli, it’s possible to train it to use so many more of its various parts than we do already – all those capabilities we now know about – let the rest take care of itself. Knowing what the brain can do on a good day with focused attention can lead to our using more of it.

NEW MUSIC REQUIRES NEW WAYS OF LISTENING

Music is pure sound. ‘There’s a sound – where might it go next? – where does it go next? – what am I anticipating? – how are my expectations confirmed/confounded? – there’s another sound, and another – how do they link up together? – how do they combine? – it’s gone quiet – that happened once or twice before – wow, that was an explosion! – a series of chords with an emerging sequence above them on different instruments (what used to be called a ‘melody’) – something low, something high – I can feel my brain moving to the changes of pitch & rhythm…’ and so on.

I relish the climaxes as climaxes; I relish the idling along as idling along; I relish strange sounds and unusual chords; I see the little joke – I relish huge so-called ‘discords’ and unconventional occasional resolutions; I listen to the way the instruments interact; I follow one and then another; I look for a dialogue, a narrative; the reconciling unisons perhaps… This is called PAYING CLOSE ATTENTION to what’s going on in the music! It changes the sound and the rhythm. It’s not what you might have heard before.

THE LISTENER IS A NEUTRAL ENTITY

The listener can be redefined as a neutral entity somewhere between the pattern in the brain and what comes at it from outside.

But prior programming causes us to expect music to do certain things; academic teaching has us believe that certain things must happen – when they don’t we feel let down in some way – that could be called a loss of ATTENTION to what’s happening. There are many factors at work: one of the most important is the degree to which one has learned to tolerate uncertainty, a personality factor; then there’s the matter of how one listens; we could ask what the role of habit is in our lives; can we teach ourselves to go beyond the way we’ve always done things? Do we want to? Something about horses and a watering hole.

WHAT’S IN IT FOR US ANYWAY?

William Carlos Williams said that ‘poetry is the renovation of experience’. Perhaps a systematically different approach to New Music could contribute to the renovation of the experience of music in general and, more importantly perhaps, of the totality of human experience itself.

When you develop an ear for sounds that are musical it is like developing an ego.
If you begin to refuse sounds that you think are not musical
you cut yourself off from a good deal of experience.

John Cage (1912 – 1992)

 

27 thoughts on “The Experience of the New and the Renovation of Experience

  1. Mmmm… Very Interesting indeed. I wonder if the ability to open oneself to “new” music has something to do with one’s attitude to risk?

    The problem for performers of getting an audience is legendary – the mistake, perhaps, is in thinking that there is only one way to do this. Whereas we old fashioned folk enjoy the experience of going out to listen to live music and certainly it can be seen that young folk like it too, they just go to places like Glastonbury to get their fix. Perhaps the intimacy of a concert venue is not their thing.

    Given the intervention of inward facing technology (that old destroyer of social interaction), perhaps the new audience could be sought in new places, like u-tube, with performers risking throwing their works to the four winds of the ethersphere and waiting to see what comes back in the way of comments. Now that would be brave… Wouldn’t it?

    Our level of discontent depends too on why we make any sort of music (or performance) in the first place, who is it for? why do we do it? Do we do it because we want to communicate something of ourselves to the audience? – well that can now be done through non-personal interaction – BUT for that interaction to involve US – to move US in some way, we need people to be present with us and with the moment.

    So like may other things, is it that we perhaps do music like we do many other things, from our ego’s need for recognition?

    A concert venue is a gathering place of the like minded eager for some form of non-verbal communication; hoping for senses and emotions to be touched by what is seen and heard and felt, from both sides of the auditorium.

    Our disappointment at not getting an audience that we can perceive, is perhaps because we (as performers) are denied all of those pleasures if the audience isn’t in the room with us.

    I don’t necessarily think it has to do with old or new anything except of course the effect of newer technologies upon our ability to, or our desire to, interact with other human beings. HOW SAD IS THAT!

    It is certainly safer to express an opinion through the medium of a comments slot on u-tube than live to another person sat alongside us – is that what we’re afraid of?..

    God (whatever that means) forbid that we should become doomed to solely living in the internal constructs of our own minds… although that is pretty much what we do anyway isn’t it? Venturing out to interact with an actual person, can be perceived as being far too risky given the oft reported vitriol that seems to exist in “other” peoples minds.

    Perhaps twitter, farcebook etc., have revealed just what goes on in peoples heads when they think no one can physically hear what they have to say. When people talk to the faceless. That freedom of anonymity having given free rein to the darker side of human nature. Those media seem to me to be a cowards way out of taking the risk to connect with real people face to face. Perhaps real people (and the thought of what goes on in their individual minds) is what is scary these days, rather than “new music” per se. Perhaps it is the thought of daring to be seen experiencing something outside the familiar blah…

    Are we sleep walking into living out Patrick McGoohan’s “fantasy” and become numbers; have we somehow become inhabitants of “The Village” – Prisoners of our own fears? Do we risk so little now that we cannot even dare to go to something we are not already familiar with? Shame on us. WAKE UP.

    I have wittered on to the non-personal for far too long on a Sunday morning – through the medium of this particular comments box. Even though I am only certain that one person at least will read it. – The person who dares to invites our inter-action in the first place – Thanks again Colin.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hoho! yes I’ve read your wittering, Pat! Very good too! Probably too much to expect that anybody else will read my Glob till it gets into book form – ROOM 15 maybe. But then I compose music for my own amusement and have lived long enough without an audience for anything not to bother much any more. At least the Mistress of the Queen’s music has now twice congratulated me on separate occasions for musical pieces of mine. I am expecting a knighthood before long! The latest time was last Thursday. What more could one desire?

      I think that Frenkel-Brunswick’s great work on the ‘Toleration of Ambiguity’ has much to do with people’s ability to cope with the ‘New’ which constructs a sort of ambiguity between it and the ‘old’. You & I, Pat, are masters at it. That’s RISKY, of course.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ha ! Congratulations on your congratulations, quite something.

    I spent the day yesterday at a Fun singing workshop amongst singers who had sung before, but didn’t necessarily read music the majority of whom had not sung together before. However, reading music was not necessary. Even though the facilitator had arranged things in three parts she taught everything via demonstration. She stripped away all music speak – and spoke about note values in everyday terms and didn’t bother with voicing the parts; just split us into three according to our own assessment of where our voices sat.

    The method she used was taking risks in just assuming people would follow her lead – would keep u with her pace and just get stuck in – and they did. She was gifted of course, but what was fascinating was that she worked ceaselessly at getting each group of singers, to support the others as they learned their parts.

    The result was fascinating on a social level, where some had started off being quite reserved, by the end were relaxed and open we became a completely cohesive group of 58 who were singing as much for each other as for themselves. The sound was fab and the harmonies of her arrangements jazz oriented and funky – wonderfully scrunchy blue open ended chords at the end of one piece – her intention to leave the audience hanging.

    Both songs were well known on a melodic level; but her arrangements were for accapella three parts high singers, middle singers and low singers. Simplified everything – made it accessible to all, had some really good fun warm ups and constantly had a level of energy to die for.

    Perhaps it is more common amongst (some) musicians to be willing to risk ambiguity?

    Great way to spend a Saturday.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Michael Finnissy talked about how to get amateur choirs into advanced pieces. After his talk which had a masterful bit of NLP work in it I wrote this for him:-

      and he wondered

      how to get an amateur choir to sing
      what might have been called avant garde choral works
      so he said even to get them
      to give up their sacred Bridge Nights
      to attend additional rehearsals
      it clicked
      when he pointed out to them the high degree of complexity
      they coped with when fiddling with a hand of cards:
      negotiating unspoken deals with a partner
      across the green baize table nods & winks between
      North & South East & West the leaning into
      common card counterpoint & uncommon possibilities;
      the skill involved in developing New Tricks

      he had built for them he said a new bridge
      to another kind of complexity
      and now they sing the new deal
      as though they were doing mahjong an activity
      which occupies another of their sacred evenings

      not long afterwards he strode off sack on back
      carrying parcels in plastic bags into
      what he described as a week in hell
      & muttering to me: – 72 and still on the road

      I thought of John Bunyan and the Hill Difficulty
      up which Christian perceived the way to Life avoiding
      the apparently easy way called Danger
      and the other apparently easy way called Destruction
      coming midway to a Pleasant Arbour designed for
      the refreshment of weary travellers; and then I had in mind
      the idea of going over the dark bridge in the distance
      into a New Way knowing that the Best is Still to Come

      26th April 2018

      Michael is retiring on the 31st July…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Brilliant poem… The effective thing for the assembled group was an atmosphere of – we’re all in it together – and the early dropping of their (sometimes previously imposed) labels, and the lack of any sheet music – we had lyrics only, and so everyone started from the same point (no ‘experts’ required here thankyou) there was a freedom to fly and have fun bestowed by Jo Sercombe. She recognised that singers (in choirs) rarely get much positive feed back by part from their leader let alone from other groups within the groups. She swept away the mechanisms and possibilities for any mental blocks to form. Result – Liberation and a great deal of fun.

    Masterful.

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  4. As usual Colin’s glob raises many questions and inspires much reflection. What is New Music and how do we feel when we listen to a work of music that stops us in our tracks, evoking us to evaluate these feelings, especially when it comes to like or don’t like. My attitude about music has little to do with my likes or dislikes, if my past is any indication of my own personal feelings about this subject then I need to remember the influence ignorance plays in this all too familiar habit. If I don’t like it it’s a signpost to past mistakes and simple prejudices I hopefully let go of long ago.

    The first memory I have of music is the sound of my father’s footsteps coming down the hall to reprehend my sisters and I to be quiet and go to bed. It’s a fond memory and one I enjoy immensely. Later on hearing the sound of those footsteps would not be so welcoming, they would inflict fear and a long night of heartbreak. Sounds, music, the pathos of my youth connect up and tell a story, an ancient story of longing and the search for love.

    This is off the cuff, a piece of music in real time.

    Music

    Music came to me
    by a lake on a windy night
    and I became a fool, a beggar,
    a speck of night star.

    Before it came
    I couldn’t hear the waves dancing
    or the wind in the trees

    The sound rose from a small box
    a box of switches and lights,
    it beamed a cascade of rhythms,
    punctuated , throbbing, silver
    tones of delight.

    I woke with a glow around me.

    I was eight years old when that dream struck me like a star falling into my brain, many years later I read Leaves of Grass and the same star erupted and my brain has never been the same. Music it seemed was something my body needed so I could learn to dance. Music is a language and so it was for me back when the footsteps transformed into something deeply healing.

    The first time I listened to John Coltrane’s “A Supreme Love” I wept. unnoticeable and without warning I wept and was stunned that he had somehow created a work of such mathematical precision and pathos that Pythagoras would’ve applauded, and so Coltrane became for me the high priest of jazz. Charlie Parker’s work also transcended the medium he worked in and maybe jazz for some is too abstract, too intellectual, too dangerous, but this is how ignorance works, it labels and buries the great ones, especially black artists who were from another time, but had to suffer because of it.

    About two years ago I began to practice drumming and percussion for between two to six hours a day and I’ve kept up this exercise consistently ever since, there are days when I play for six hours and more just so I will be ready when I’m called upon to play. But I don’t call it practice anymore because something happened along the way, it became play or playing, the word practice didn’t fit anymore. I’d heard about this phenomenon from other musicians before but I had not experienced it until like I said, just recently. It began as a tribute to my son Sam but like many of these plans we make, there is something bigger at work here. I began to experiment in as many ways as I could come up with: holding my hands differently, circling my hands in various patterns and strokes, using my body in new positions, and learning to place my attention in different areas of my body, like a dancer learning how to step and count, my inner voice began to assimilate strange mumbling sounds that seem to rise up from my loins, primal and invigorating.

    Learning to arrange songs is composing and it is a time consuming task but it’s always rewarding. Some might say it’s insane because you have to listen to a piece of music hundreds of times in order to figure out just where some seemingly silly guitar line goes, but it’s what is necessary to making a good record.

    New music is probably responsible for the best pop music in today’s music business, a cut throat enterprise owned and operated by sub-humans like Trump. New Music seeps down slowly and is hijacked by the thieves that don’t care about integrity and dignity. The work of contemporary musicians, like the jazz musicians I’ve mentioned never see a penny for their efforts.

    We don’t do it for the masses, we do it because we love it. Many people will say they love music but what they are really saying is they once loved music and explored all sorts of sounds and electronics but have now settled into their old habits of what makes them feel comfortable, and worse than that, what makes them feel Right.

    Pat Mason,

    You are such a joy to read, insightful, erudite, passionate, dignified… and always a help! Pat

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words Patrick; I am gobsmacked! and humbled given the company. So many of your observations are resonant. What jumped out from your writing was your sheer enthusiasm and the joy you experience through music. Like you, music is for me inextricably linked to dance, for me they are both forms of self expression and communication to those who can “read”, when words just don’t hack it. My bench marks for whether I enjoy a piece, is whether I start to see dance moves the minute the piece starts or whether I start to move with it or whether it takes me off somewhere other.

      One of the most scintillating pieces of dance I have seen, was performed to the music of the dancer’s bodies and breath as they danced. Toes swooshing along the floor, or the sound of them landing on the stage, the sound of their out breath reflecting their effort or an in breath signalling the next move to another dancer even the sound of their sweat hitting the floor. Sheer – Music of their bodies.

      All this suddenly reminds me of my Dad’s feigned disgust at my attempts at Jazz on the clarinet between practicing my scales and classical exam pieces. Or learning Dave Brubeck take five, when I should have been learning Bach on the piano. Tee hee… secretly he loved it too.

      It’s so lovely to hear from you Patrick. Thank you Colin for providing a vehicle for these responses.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. To keep up with this brilliant conversation, I thought I’d better re-read the original Glob! The first thing that struck me was this:-

    ‘…we actually see anything but wholes; we see, quite separately, shape, colour, form, movement, bright & dark, minute changes in each, all done by different parts of the brain and it seems there is absolutely no place at all in the brain where it all comes together; what we see are fragments…’

    The first thing I ever read (60+ years ago) in formal ‘philosophy’ was about Plato contemplating a table. He said if you take away shape, colour, cracks & divots, smell, texture, bright & dark (all the separate ‘normal’ elements) from a table what are you left with? And the answer was, of course, the essence of tableness, the purity of the impression of ‘table’. I pondered this for many months and got, I think, to the stage of being able for a few moments at least to think just ‘essence of table’. Take away all the conventional labels pinned on musical experience and what are you left with? The purity of soundity.

    Then I put this with what was, Globwise, just an offhand comment: ‘…The listener can be redefined as a neutral entity somewhere between the pattern in the brain and what comes at it from outside…’ If one strips away all the accumulated clutter of presuppositions to do with music (or anything else for that matter) one can be left with just the essence of selfity. I can then redefine ‘neutral entity’ as ‘essence of selfity’, completely open to everything going.

    Then I thought about ‘newness’. It’s a rubbish term really. Either everything without exception is ‘new’ in the sense that it has never ever been experienced in precisely that way before – we are different every moment so all experience is novelty – or there’s nothing new under the sun, it’s all been done before. The latter way runs the risk of one getting into the post-modernist nightmare.

    A Beethoven symphony or Brubeck’s ‘Take Five’ are ‘new’ every time we listen to them because we are different people every second of the day & night.

    The terms ‘New Music’ and ‘avant garde’ are of course merely generic terms under which hide a multitude of forms & experiences, including those which one can judge as being lousy pieces. (What makes a lousy piece?) ‘New Music’ as a generic term simply distinguishes whatever it is from ‘Old Music’ – the standard repertoire which can be anything from Machaut to Mahler, say. It was all called ‘new’ once and any listener coming to any piece for the first time would have to regard it as ‘new’. So with Charlie Parker & Dave Brubeck and the Art Ensemble of Chicago and The Beatles…

    The musical impulse is universal; we poor humans, it seems, can’t function unless we put labels on things, words even… We can get rid of all that accumulated junk in dance and then ‘who can tell the dancer from the dance?’ (Yeats)

    As a person who has set himself, amongst many other things, to put dots on staves since he first found he could imitate the dots he saw representing a piano transcription of Schubert’s ‘Unfinished’ about 1952/3, I regard musical composition as an adventure of the spirit, one sound dictating the next and the next and the next so that a grand gestalt gradually emerges to be recognised only after the event which can then be fiddled with. I am blessedly free from musical ‘theory’. As a result, I have a practice of trying to stay always in what they call ‘Beginner’s Mind’, or in ‘neutral entity’, or ‘essence of selfity’. Though I do fall into the trap of using them, the labels are meaningless when one is in the throes of composition – they should be irrelevant when listening. What emerges compositionally comes from the same place as my practice when it comes to cooking or mixing cement (similar processes… See Carl Rogers ‘Towards a Theory of Creativity’)

    Pat’s ‘…music is for me inextricably linked to dance…’ brings to mind a whole weekend when, in a room with fifty other people, we both danced out exercises related to the music of NLP ! Music is the dance of notes on a stave which dance to the fingers of the performers or the feet of the learners. Music is a whole body experience so that one becomes Patrick’s

    …fool, a beggar,
    a speck of night star.

    Before it came
    I couldn’t hear the waves dancing
    or the wind in the trees

    My own very first experience of making music was dancing up and down the cinder alley between the suburban houses where I was first conscious singing freely – the kind of thing I now find in Webern and so on.

    And here’s very old poem which conveys perhaps the idea of the tie-up between bodysoul&music:-

    Music

    Is a great flinging away of oneself
    To the pitch and rhythm,
    A bathing in the waves of sound, an immersion,
    Me versus a symphony orchestra,
    My scoreless whistle against a hundred strings,
    Wind and percussion.

    I whistle the Bach Violin Concerto in E
    Till I get cramp In my jaw.
    I am thoroughly swamped by Vaughan Williams and Walt Whitman
    In conjunction.
    The thought of Mahler In his summer house
    Too full of all the elemental feelings of a summer evening
    To get them down in dots in time
    Renders me helpless against the equivalent on the orchestra.

    I add my own cadenza to Bartock’s 2nd Violin Concerto,
    Busting at the shirt buttons.
    I tamper with the Tenth of Shostakovitch,
    Bang it out, whistle and stamp,
    Cymbal-imitations;
    I fling myself at it.

    (Easter 1965)

    Of course, therefore, I love what Patrick wrote:-

    ‘…I began to experiment in as many ways as I could come up with: holding my hands differently, circling my hands in various patterns and strokes, using my body in new positions, and learning to place my attention in different areas of my body, like a dancer learning how to step and count, my inner voice began to assimilate strange mumbling sounds that seem to rise up from my loins, primal and invigorating…’

    The whole body engaged. All the senses buzzing. Gurdjieff’s Centres in balance: Intellect, Emotion & Moving Centres.

    More wittering, Pat…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If meditation changes the physical properties of the brain, what does music do? Do all 3 of us have brains that acquired some area that acts like a bell, an invisible bell?

      BREATH, YOU INVISIBLE POEM!
      by Rainer Maria Rilke (1875–1926)

      Breath, you invisible poem!
      A constant interchange between our clear being
      and the world space beyond our seeing
      in which I rhythmically become.

      Solitary wave whose
      gradual sea I am.
      Of all possible seas you are parsimonious,
      winning the cosmos, with me one gram

      in it. How many realms of space have been
      inside me already! The multiple wind
      is like my son.

      Air, do you know me? You are full of places
      once mine. A uniquely smooth rind,
      a leaf of my words among roundnesses.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. And then…

        …I think a thought of the clef of the universes and of the future.

        …A vast similitude interlocks all,
        …All distances of place however wide,
        All distances of time,
        …All souls, all living bodies though they be ever so different, or in different worlds,
        …All nations, colors, barbarisms, civilizations, languages,
        All identities that have existed or may exist
        …All lives and deaths, all of the past, present, future,
        This vast similitude spans them, and always has spann’d,
        And shall forever span them and compactly hold and enclose them.

        Never can read this just like that. I get Vaughan Williams’ glorious setting of it running through my mind.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. And then… we are all islands, conscious of our separateness and waiting for the waters to part, so we can become one again.

    The interchange of information and energy in music helps us become one with another. All completely different and at the same time all the same.

    Each experience unique and yet beyond that a shared experience.

    Perhaps we have acquired an invisible bell, music has a variety of effects that I can perceive, it can lift me up, put me down, turn me inside out, make me move, quiet me, make me come out of myself, make me go into myself, etc etc – Music is undoubtedly has the key to my unconsciously held deep emotions and forces me to open to them.

    Physically playing the Moonlight Sonata, the interaction with the piano, draws the emotion out. I have no choice but to feel it. It is visceral. As do the Sate Gymnopedie https://uk.video.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?fr=yhs-mnet-001&hsimp=yhs-001&hspart=mnet&p=satie+gymnopedie#id=51&vid=b9d9aa3bbb9c7b5d3f1d4b6ed5ab9778&action=view Loving the imagery on this particular rendition.

    Nothing fixed, nothing static, constant change…

    When the bell strikes – I fully wake up. Nothing else does the same thing in me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And again the bell is struck… and I await the tide, the pull of music.

      There is something I am quite thrilled about, my son Keith and I are engaged in a project of long coming, we are putting together a landscape of all the music I’ve written, arranged, produced, and played on over the past 35 years and creating our own you-tube page to release them on. There is an enormous amount of material and we’ve just scratched the surface, most of it has never been heard, but there are a few gems in the mix, and for me it’s about working with my son, it was his idea and that is where the glow comes from. Love to all, Patrick

      Liked by 2 people

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