I was flipping through Robert Henri's The Art Spirit before I began my guitar practice tonight. This book has more pieces of paper sticking out of it then any book on art theory that I own. So many great thoughts that apply to any creative process. Henri had a connection with his muse on all levels that I admire. He was more than capable to express his connection in words. He says: " A line is not good because it is like a line. A line is good because of it's relations to other lines ..."
Does this not hold true for a note? One note can be beautiful, powerful, & true which is a testament to the player; but where does one note take us? An inspired moment perhaps, but this same note related to other notes, has the power of all of the notes and their relationships to inspire, transform, and transcend our world.
Holding these thoughts, I quietly moved my arms in the manner of Qi Gong, but with no specific form in mind. As I opened my case, I knew I would begin with the Berio exercise to play the same note 11 different ways. This simple exercise aligns my listening and playing faster than any other exercise I know. As I played with this exercise, I decided I would work on the intro to Stepping Stones next, as there are many long notes in the introduction of this piece. I enjoyed playing with these notes, savoring the making of the sounds while listening to them, feeling the power in their relationships. Noticing how a change in timbre or volume of one note affected all the others before and after.
When I decided to play through the piece, I noticed my mind had begun to chatter as I was playing the arpeggios in the second section. Then the thought arrived "When playing the guitar - play the guitar." Alone or on stage isn't this enough? A glimpse of Mastery perhaps? As I applied this thought to my playing, I played.