Saturday, May 02, 2009

Music Without Goals

I really love improvisations that go nowhere. Improvisations where there is no goal… just an impulse to follow feelings in the current moment.

In fact, some have described this kind of music as self-indulgent - a kind of musical fantasy world where the focus is more on the performer than the listener.

Of course, this isn't the case at all. You see, most of us are used to having our music wrapped up in nice neat little packages. We aren't used to actually listening to music. We expect an "emotional experience" right away. And it better happen in 3-4 minutes or else.

Take Japanese Shakahuachi music for example. For those of you who don't know, the shakahuachi is a Japanese flute. It's beautiful sound is appreciated by many in the East.

I have a few CDs of this music and everytime I listen to them I hear something new. It's as if each time the CD is played I hear it for the first time. It never gets old. Why? Because of the absence of musical form!

There is not much for the mind to grasp or hold onto. Repetition of musical phrases is almost non existent. Instead, we get music without goals!

If there is a goal at all, it's that the person performing the music remains in the present while playing. What we hear is the "state of mind" of the performer at the exact time the recording is made.

In one of my own piano pieces "Desert Flowers" (which is actually Lesson 30 from my online piano course) I do the same thing. And everytime I listen to it, it seems that it's somehow changed. Yet the music always remains fresh and pliant - waiting to be discovered again and again.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Edward for these beautiful thoughts and tips. I have only been a member for less than a month and I always look forward to all you emails. There is so much richness and a wealth of information in your lessons. I feel so relaxed and peaceful listening to your piano compositions.

    I feel like I am back to college. I also appreciate the selection of artist you are exposing me to. I can't say enough!