Like being so immersed in music that you can’t tell if you are listening or playing!
Yes, that is a wonderful experience. I think that it is the reason musicians do what they do… to get into that zone, that flow. In that zone one is gazing instead of staring, one is aware instead of concentrating. If one starts to concentrate – on listening, or on the melody, or any one of the million facets of the crystal – it all falls apart. A very elaborate cardhouse. A multi-faceted crystal or diamond. And when the piece is played and done with, one can’t remember why or how it happened.
Thankfully we had quite a few moments like that during this last tour. Delicious.
“..there are few other occaisions at which large numbers of people witness the same event together, think and feel the same things, and process the same information. Such joint participation produces in an audience the condition Emile Durkheim called “collective effervescence,” or the sense that one belongs to a group with a concrete, real existence. This feeling Durkheim believed, was at the roots of religious experience. The very conditions of live performance help focus attention on the music and therefore make it more likely that flow will result at a concert than when one is listening to a reproduced sound.” from Flow The psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. The Temecula performance had flow. Thank you
The experience of immersion that you describe has a lot in common with a balancing act, and to some extent with the craft of the writer who must listen for the right notes in what he writes and who must be very careful not to try too hard, risking a forced result, or to invest too little of himself, seeming ingenuine. During those precious moments–or whole eveings– when the musician(s) and audience are in Flow, or in the Zone, I think actual endorfins are released causing this delicious, shared meditative state to “visit” his performance. During his performance the audience is uplifted no matter what is going on in life.
As beautifully described by Robert Fripp:
Soundscape performances, typically, visit several moods and areas of reflection, consideration and personal interest. The performances are part of an ongoing series, serving the aim of finding ways in which the creative intelligence may enter into the act of music , for both musician and audience.
Music is the cup which holds the wine of silence.
Alternatively, music is a quality organised in sound and in time. The quality is ungovernable, the forms of organisation mainly governed by the cultures and societies in which the music appears. The qualitative dimension of Music is an aspect of Creative Intelligence with which, through which, and to which, we may connect and be interconnected. This should not be difficult, as we are already connected. So why is it so hard?
The quantitative dimension of performance, for the professional player, is mediated by commerce and set within the commercial culture. Better, if possible, that performance take place outside that culture. Otherwise, better that performers and audiences drop the demands, expectations and values that accompany the impulses of commerce.
This series is part of a continuing exploration into, firstly, how one might be a musician, professional musician and human being simultaneously; secondly, how music might enter our sorry world, despite all our efforts (mostly unintentional) to keep it out.
Performance is utterly impersonal, yet intimate; and playing music always a privilege.
May we trust the inexpressible benevolence of the Creative Impulse.
Friday 9th. June, 2006
I believe myself to be intelligent and I am educated, but I do not understand much of what is written about in your diary and reader/fan comments. I am a born-again Christian with no philosophical inclinations that simply loves Ottmar’s music and talent. I guess that’s all that matters. I’ve been to 2 or 3 performances in Houston and will go whenever he comes back. I just ‘feel’ the music and have wanted to learn to play this style for years. I even bought a decent (low-end/student) Joan Cashimira guitar that has been seasoning in my closet for about 4 years now and has been played almost not at all. Know any good instructors in the Houston area that could teach me to put that guitar to use?