Saturday, December 11, 2010

Accepting What Comes

I've been reading Begin Again, a biography of John Cage by Kenneth Silverman. While I've known of his influence, had a good friend who worked with him, and even spent an afternoon with John Cage once, I am still astounded at the people that he worked with. One of those people that I love is Morton Feldman. Cage met Feldman as a young man, and when looking over one of Feldman's scores asked Morton how did he make this. Morton reply was that he did not know and Cage loved that is was "so beautiful and he doesn't know how he made it." Later when Cage gave his "Lecture on Something" he eulogized Morton Feldman in these words:

    He has changed
    the responsibility of    the composer    from making    to accepting

When I read these words a few evenings ago, there was a resonance in me. Generally with the music that has come to me, I have no system. Like Cage and Feldman I have been open to experimenting with music, these days as a solo guitarist, but previously with two racks full of effects, synthesizers, and delays. Always probing, seeing what happens and listening. A gift that has been given to me is to hear when Music is whispering and to take note.

Tonight when I returned to my guitar I allowed myself to improvise. A simple phrase came out, followed by another one. I played this again and more notes followed. After a few minutes I let go and played through some pieces that have been neglected of late. Then the simple phrase returned and I began exploring the possibilities this offered. Knowing that whether or not a piece materializes that the practice of composing would be nurtured and this alone was sufficient. Thinking of Morton Feldman, I accepted what was coming out. Now to let go of writing and return to this investigation. Are you making or accepting?

1 comment:

  1. Your ability to listen to music speaking to you, to play openly with your instrument and then to share what arises with us is such a gift to the world. Thank you for your openness and persistence.