Monday, June 24, 2013

Extra-consciousness invites us to play

I found an interesting post that Michael Colgrass wrote back in October of 2012:
I know that when I feel stuck while writing a work and decide to take a break from it, I can resort to something inside myself to get things rolling again when the time is right. It’s as if I hand over the work to my subconscious. It has often done a much better job than my conscious mind, even though I think that can be pretty creative too by churning out all the possible solutions for a trouble spot. Call it the raw material for the piece. Then I walk away from it and another part of me seems to take over and do the work. I certainly can’t describe the process, but I know it is not intellectual or cerebral. It seems as though some kind of extra-consciousness appears from an almost secret place and invites me to play.

Perhaps all creativity has a psychic component — in art, science and all our daily creative pursuits. Many people resist or ridicule the existence of psychic reality, though there is much evidence that it exists — sometimes under different names, such as intuition, coincidence or luck.
I am a person of the here and now. I don't believe in ghosts, and I don't believe in life after death (including reincarnation). I do, however, believe strongly that the connections that we make with one another are much more complicated than we are capable of understanding them to be. Music is also far more complicated than we are capable of understanding it to be, and I inherently distrust anyone who claims to understand it fully (or even understand what it is). We all draw upon musical experiences that we can't possibly consider in real time, because pieces of music happen in time. If you stop the music, you stop the experience.

Sure. You can study a passage, or repeat it again and again. You can try to figure out how it works, and how you can use what you learn in the music you write. There are rules of harmony, counterpoint, and orchestration that can make static music sound better than it would without observing those "rules," but for the "stuff" of music and the magic that can happen, there are no rules.

An idea comes as a shape, a texture, a feeling, a series of relationships, and then those of us who like to write music spend inordinate amounts of time getting the notes and rhythms to project the shapes, textures, and feelings that might have been in that original idea. When everything is "right," the piece is finished, and that particular game with that extra-consciousness (whatever it may be) comes to an end.

Then everything is quiet and kind of dull, until E.C. knocks on the door, and it's time to play another game.

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