Emergent Music And Visual Music: Inside Studies 5 - Playgrounds
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Audio CD, June 10, 2010
CD 5 - Playgrounds presents eleven different examples of sonic playgrounds ranging from solo sonic flight patterns, to dramatic renderings of a set of synonyms, to a fully patched and played electronic music studio, and to the melding of an audience with an experimental dance band. The CD opens with a piece composed in real time called Pipe Dreams that electronically goes beyond the limitations of acoustic pipes but does that idiomatically enough to be believable. The Deb Fox Tours exploit an electronic arts software set (a playground) created by Eric Wenger, perhaps the most visionary software designer of the late 20th/early 21st Centuries. Reservoir Boys features dramatic and humorous vocalizations of mid-1970s pre-teen boys working out the details of playing an ongoing baseball game-ensemble real time composition of a sublime order.
Play is a matter of utmost seriousness in the performance arts. Without that special joyful quality that comes only from play, performance in the arts is little more than a soulless mechanical exercise. To be reminded daily of the primacy of play should be an integral part of every artist's practice sessions.
Performance artists play to work and work to play. With play comes spiritually uplifting delight even when the occasion may be weighted down with seriousness.
Play is the celebration of the human facility of expressively operating in an integrated/coordinated fashion human breath, body, senses, mind, and soul. Artful play is the vehicle for expressing the full range of healthy emotions connected with being alive.
When meeting a musician the first questions asked are "What instrument do you play?". And then "What kind of music do you play? Who do play with? Where have you played? Where and when do you play next? Do you want to play with us?" If you substitute the word work for play in any of these questions the magic of the art disappears and is replaced by mechanics unconnected to the heart.
The same questions apply to athletes-"What sport do you play? What position do you play?" And so on... Performance artists are athletes that play on the field of human feelings.
The only way to excel in the performance arts is to practice. Meaningful practice requires playful repetition. Mindless and soulless repetition normally has a very short lifespan and, if that lifespan is extended by any form of force, the result is always mechanical execution bereft of heart and soul, a lamentable waste of a precious gift, the refined life force.
The artful way to focus and extend practice is to treat it as play. The quality of that play is directly correlated with one's imagination as expressed by the invention of variations and embellishments that fertilize the objectives of practice in ways that bear the fruit of meaningful art. If one can't learn to enjoy practice, one has no future in that medium.
How many different ways can you initiate a tone on a particular instrument? How do you organize those ways into initiation families? By physical attributes? Emotional attributes? Kinesthetic attributes? All these questions are examples of games that can be played differently according to different players and instruments. These questions make up just one small subset of games that can played as part of a process to discover one's unique voice in the performance arts. Artful play is the method for articulating a unique point of view, that view being the most important contribution one can make to fellow beings now and in the future.
The primary function of music composition is to design playgrounds that performance artists can use as solo creative vehicles or, gathering in greater numbers and in concerted celebration, can build sound castles that both remind us of our fundamental humanity and provide us with a sense of more elevated forms of humanity.
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