Some time ago, in my work with the esoteric instruments such as the gong, I learned about the concept of `Turiya`. In simple terms, in the context of playing, this means approaching improvisation in a neutral and ego-less state. Not actually `playing` as in thinking about or planning what your hands and voice are doing but in being the observer of what your hands and voice are doing.
In Hindu philosophy, Turya is known as the Fourth State or pure consciousness. In one work (Mandukya Upanishad), it is described as:
“Not inwardly cognitive, nor outwardly cognitive, not both-wise cognitive,
not a cognition-mass, not cognitive, not non-cognitive,
unseen, with which there can be no dealing, ungraspable, having no distinctive mark,
non-thinkable, that cannot be designated, the essence of assurance,
of which is the state of being one with the Self
the cessation of development, tranquil, benign”
When playing an instrument in this state there is no fear as there can be no `wrong`. Take away the thinking and there is no complication, no boundaries to creativity. Some musicians are very uncomfortable with idea of there being no rules, they ask how do you know when you are getting it `right`. Well, playing in a state of Turiya is the most beautiful experience and some of my best work has come out of these sessions.
Just make sure the tape is running before you start!!
Best thoughts come to me in the shower and best ideas come over breakfast, so I`ve found. June and I were talking over breakfast a couple of weeks ago and a chance remark has started me on a new thread of creativity. We had been talking about an artist who uses Japanese Haiku as an inspiration for painting and I suggested using a lines or blocks of colour in groups of 5 and 7 to create a series of pictures. Although not totally historically correct, modern Haiku are short poems made up of 3 lines of 5, 7, and finally 5 syllables. There are lots of other `rules` in the writing of these poems, many just conventions of 20th Century writing and based on the interpretation of the original translations.
June then said the same might work in music. Well, `blow me down with a feather`, it immediately struck me that it could. What about composing very short minimalist works. Just three, seven note, bars with some silence, producing three groups of 5, 7, and finally 5 notes. It`s so cool and also so challenging.
There`s an added bonus for me as I`m attempting to increase my keyboard skills and this was just what I needed to help with practice. My challenge now is to write and play and then mix one of these mini-works several times a week and come up with something interesting each time. I have finished several now and here is the latest ~~