R1: Reading Responses

Personally, the reading Towards an Ethic of Improvisation was the most interesting reading we had this week.  Although I recognize the flaws in the maze-like city analogy, I still think it definitely got across the meaning, “You are the music.”  For me that was a very simple way of explaining what I have felt when I play music.  I remember being told to stay still during piano lessons because I would be swaying too much (because I felt the music and couldn’t help it).  For me that was a physical example of “Being the music” and I never understood why I had to sit still.  I also thought that the virtues that a musician could develop was a beautiful list that strangely helped me conquer some of my fear over the upcoming improvisation.  The virtues that really stuck out to me as different than I have heard before was selflessness (play for a connection with others) and preparedness (preparedness for different outcomes of your music).  I suppose that these were just never mentioned in my personal music education although I wish they had been.  Music has always been a deeply personal thing, enough that I have a strange aversion to letting people see my itunes music.  It is almost if, even if I have not created it, my music becomes my children and I become extremely protective over it.  I believe this also has to do with social anxiety and judgment, but this made me realize I should start to try to share my music more.  If I find it moving, it is selfish to keep it to myself.  I also really liked the idea of preparedness for differences.  This goes along strongly with Mindfulness (therapy-anxiety reducing technique) and I found that acceptance of how the music goes definitely is more freeing for improvisation.

The essay Improvised Music after 1950: Afrological and Eurological Perspectives was also pretty interesting to me.  Although I have studied John Cage a fair amount (mostly in reference to abstract expressionism and happenings), I had never really studied much on jazz or his thoughts on jazz.  It was shocking to me that he said “I don’t think about jazz…”.  The idea that he could not pay much attention to something that was clearly also on an improvisation track around the same time period was very frustrating to me.  Another thing I found in this reading to be really interesting was a quote by Steve Lacy that can be summed up to that musicians have years of training, but every improvisation is a leap into the unknown.  I thought that was beautiful and a really nice way of explaining the risk taken with every improvised note.


I also enjoyed the paper “Quantum Improvisation: The Cybernetic Presence 11”. Although the ideas of the paper were interesting, I noticed that all of the music analogies and pieces I took in through the lens of an artist.  I immediately was reminded of Stelarc and kept thinking that this could be a work of his.  Although I did enjoy speculating over what the future chips would contain, I kept wondering why this was not already an art piece or a project of someone- to create how future generations would learn music.  I personally realized just how often I think of things through an artist’s viewpoint with this reading, which relates a lot towards the Ethics of Improvisation’s ideal person for playing the piece Treatise.

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