Sunday, July 21, 2013

Conveying Hopeless

Dark Woods
A comment left regarding my latest musical exploration raised a question about how to convey hopelessness.  This question may have been lurking within my pysch but I had not clearly articulated it.  Music is composed of notes and their relationships to another.  We have joyful, or sad, or mysterious responses.  For some reason I can elicit sad, angry, and the occasional joyful responses but can I garner hopelessness?

Fortunately, hopelessness is not a large part of my experience in life.  How can I touch this, embrace hopeless?  Can I muster the vocabulary that while the music cannot state hopeless explicitly, invite the listener to dwell with the experience?  What am I getting myself into?  Peering through the language glass can I detect and transmit the nuances approaching hopelessness.  Doubt or fear of failure tells me to back off.  But I know this is where my musical and perhaps even personal growth dwells for today.

With doubt in hand and the question of what does hopeless sound like within my heart I begin to play.  As I listen, while I'm not sure how these chords and notes might relate to another, I trust what I hear and continue to play, develop, and follow.

This time I have space on my recorders SD card so I capture my explorations to be listened to as needed.  I remind myself this is a process.  I need to guide, allow and be with the process.  Perhaps the music does not need to convey hopelessness, perhaps the music, regardless of the initial inspiration just needs to be heard.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

New Beginnings Part 2

Windshield Ice 1577

I began my practice reviewing the melody which arose the previous evening.  Doubt surfaced, I was not hearing the magic I heard the night before.  But I have been here before, faced this resistance within me to move forward with an idea.  Playing it again I sensed what drew me the night before.  Moving onto some chord slashes I found at the end of the session, I had a sense that this might be the beginning of the piece.  Using this section I found the chord slashes did lead in nicely to the melody line.

As I continued to play around other ideas emerged and spread.  I was exhausted by a very demanding week at work and the SD card on my recorder was full.  Should I stop and empty the card?  Begin notating on paper?  Or simply continue to play, trusting that the process will continue to reveal and develop.  Of course that nagging little thought kept at me, that something may be lost.  Laughing since if I paused to clean up the SD card or begin hand notation something also stands to be lost.

Better to remain in the moment with what I was playing.  Notes come and notes go, and I just played on.

New Beginning

During my work day on Thursday I was thinking about the history of one of our clients.  Both of his parents are Holocaust survivors.  I wonder at the stories they possess and the horrors they have lived through.  Was there a piece of music whispering to me?  How would I become available to receive this piece?

There I sat eating my lunch with a sense or sentiment of what to express.  For me at this point the work will be for solo guitar, so one limit is already established.  Where & how to begin?  A cliched thought of boot steps echoing down a hallway arises, but a bit more ambiquity seems apropos.  Do I have the musical language to express this?  Ah, there it is - that subtle thought of doubt, masking the face of fear.  Welcome home old friend.  Breathing in I smile to this doubt and know that I will wrestle with this during my evening practice.

How else to develop the language then to speak?  To probe and prod, experiment and fail; dwelling not on the moments of struggle but taking energy from the search and slowly moving forward. Deciding I needed a scale to begin from, I arrived at C Phrygian Dominant.  Now the stage was set for the evening's work.

As I sat down with my guitar, that moment arose of recognizing the unknown and wading in.  I'm generally comfortable within the confines of my practice space with being lost & clueless; hopefully with enough openness and attention to hear when music has whispered.  Embracing the uncertainty of my knowledge and the mild stress of my challenge; I trust that time with the process will bring order from the chaos of choices. At the very least I will learn & possibly produce a something of merit.  Exploring the relationships within the scale, allowing triads to form & dissolve, I listen as melodies arise & slip away.

One melody stands out and I have found my base to explore from.  Where does this melody wish to go next?  Gentle efforts find the next phrase, yet I feel this piece needs energy and darkness.  Still gentleness governs the evening's efforts.  So be it.  In a world full of suffering, and while contemplating this suffering a gentle practice is at the very least useful.

                                                             Photo by Barry Stock