Monday, August 2, 2010
Allowing the Creative
Photo by M-J-H
Yesterday I dug out the scores for two pieces that were generated this past fall during a period where I was beginning my practice by writing a short piece - what I was calling Frames. There was no structure to these investigations, just an approach of openness to the guitar and what I might discover and learn. This period was very fruitful yielding 10 Frames, several of which I enjoy on listening back to them. Hence the decision now to learn two of these for possible recording in September.
On my way home from work today I was thinking about exploring the notion of Frames again, Summertime Frames perhaps. Would these investigations have a different musical quality about them? Perhaps. Not only have the seasons changed but so have I. So I decided to begin another period of beginning my practice session with improvising and notating the results. I recalled a suggestion on limits from Stephen Nachmanovitch's excellent book Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art that I have used many times. He recommends applying two limits to foster the creative process.
I came up with the limits of using only the notes on the guitar between the fifth and the tenth positions using a rhythm in five to begin with. I would investigate this for 20 minutes and then move on to my practice. I actually did this for 25 minutes but nothing musical was materializing. I let go and just began to play. There was music. I played with this idea a bit and then took a short break. When I came back to the guitar I still liked the idea and played with it some more. I then took a much needed walk along Sligo Creek.
The idea continued to play in my mind as I walked. Still not sure what to do to develop the idea I just let myself listen and play with the options in my head. Occasionally the singing of the creek and the insects would filter their way in, but this idea continued to dominate. Continuing to walk quickly and listen to these melodies was joyful. When I returned home I again played with the idea.
There are possibilities I played and I am sure more is available, just not tonight. But I trust the process; I trust the creative spirit. The outcome is not as important as allowing myself the opportunity and the freedom to explore.