DIMC Conference Discussion 2008
Present: Carl Bergstroem-Nielsen, Mette Stig Nielsen, Henrik Ehland Rasmussen, Regine Leonore Birkner, Jens Friis-Pedersen, Tine Hinrichsen, Norbert Zajac, Leopoldo Siano, Juan Maria Solare, Dorte Løkke.
Carl (acting as a moderator): This time I would like you to mention some issues to discuss.
Mette: discipline and precision
Jens: intention vs. intuition
Juan: a) interrelations between persons who play - b) notation and transmission of intentions
Leopoldo: The concept of intuition - do we use this term in the right way?
Juan: decision taking - how do we take decisions collectively
Carl: writing down keywords like this:
INTUITION (SRI AUROBINDU)
DISCPLINE AND PRECISION
Jens: intention is associated to having an agenda, deciding when to enter and leave the music and what to create. the intuition is what i think is relevant when the music enters the space with other musicians and there is a letting go of control
Regine: intuition comes also if you have an intention, intention may lead to intuition
Juan: I would like to replace or complement intention with the word motivation which has also an active aspect. Maybe not for a complete agenda, but for something to begin with. We may have motivation without intention of doing this or other concrete thing. The bad aspect of agenda could be that it might be so full that you are not really free. Motivation does not block the idea of intuition.
Tine: With the warming-up yesterday, we were told to find out within ten seconds whether we would like to enter or not. That forced us to find our motivation.
Carl: Juan, you just said during our playing session that you did not like "subliminal" decisions - you liked clear decisions. Like "now I am doing this" and not "now I am perhaps doing this"...
Juan: actually, my comment was in another direction. I also like the idea of clarity. What I meant is, if a decision is to be taken anyway, I prefer it to be clear and not from the darkness, so to say. If I translate this into usual life, it would be like subliminal propaganda.
Mette: I cannot help mentioning John Cage who did not want intention, music should be like the weather. But he wanted discipline.
Carl: what a paradox. Some Eastern people use a lot of discipline for meditation in order to become free inside...
Mette: maybe intention and discipline could be the same thing in a way
Juan: no, discipline is how to make something become real, intention is just your wish, it could lead nowhere
Tine: maybe you have the intention to be disciplined but you are not (laughter)
Tine: I have two children whom I teach myself at home instead of sending them to school. And it works very well when I am disciplined about WHEN to do something with them. But if I have too many intentions about what we are going to do, they will never, never go into it. Kids are so creative, they hate intention, but they love me to go with them and support them and give them what I know about something. If I am not serious about our work, they may think, why are we going to do it? It is my way of showing that it is important what we do together.
Carl: so maybe, a little jokingly said, discipline is imposed from life and intention comes from our ego...
Regine: I work with children as well, with visual art. It is better to give them some theme than to let it be completely free. If I say "paint a plant", one may say "oh, I hate plants", and I might allow for "OK, paint something else", but they need a structure they can struggle with.
Tine: it is the same thing with the scores...
Juan: discipline is paying the price for something you want. And you can pay it happily or against your will. At some point, I guess, we have learned to pay the price for the things that we want. But to begin with, kids wants to have everything for free, so to say.
Henrik: how can we transfer that to what we are doing in music here?
Regine: this morning I was very tired, but had the discipline to say: I try.
Dorte: in our group work, it may be necessary to follow a common decision even when disagreeing
Henrik: I think mental discipline helps me to structure my life and at the same time keeps my mind awake
Mette: I think a very important part of discipline is the ability to be ready, to be there, to be aware...
Carl: We are disciplined, therefore we succeed (laughter). - Awareness and attention might be the keywords leading on to touching on the concept of intuition...
Leopoldo: Sri Aurobindu was an Indian sage, poet and yoga philosopher. When Karlheinz Stockhausen for the first time used the term "intuitive", he took it from his writings. He speaks of normal mind, illuminated mind, and intuitive mind, the latter related to the overmind, that which is not personal, has nothing to do with ego. For Sri Aurobindo, the main way to be connected to these higher minds is to create silence of mind. Stockhausen intended the word exactly in this sense. The language of intuition, for Stockhausen, should be a totally unknown language. It should not have to do with one's own memory or cultural background. It is, of course, a utopistic idea.
Carl: I'd like to take a pragmatic approach - I would not like to advocate for a very exclusively spiritual community. I think intuition should be for all people, also Westeners who are not familiar with spiritual schools etc. All experience with meditation shows that when we are searching for the big oneness, we will have a very long way to go with working through our emotions and passions and we need to become conscious of our down-to-earth human being. So I think I like to speak of glimpses from above, like the stars becoming visible sometimes...
Tine: to have this feeling of connecting to something outside yourself, that's the main point for me instead of sitting here with my own puzzles - it is a relief to relate to whatever you call it - it could be the group I am doing the music with, or it could be the room and the audience, and it could be even bigger. Rather than reach for something you may never get I would like to enjoy the glimpses.
Carl: Stockhausen compared that, in a slightly different context, with falling in love, answering the question whether people without "higher knowledge" could make intuitive music. You cannot help it, it takes you away from outside.
Tine: it may be important not to own the music and take it as a gift, this makes it easier for you to be a medium for it and relax from judging whether it is good or bad...
Henrik: taste obviously often disturbs human activity
Carl: Let's talk about interrelations...
Mette: musicians cultivate very special competences through playing together
Carl: how can one arrange good interrelations?
Tine: it is important to have fun, to relax and feel happy.
Jens: it is important to connect inner impulses to what happens outside
Juan: this answer asks a new question: how do you prepare the earth to have fun?
Tine: children work hard when they play
Regine: you need to be inside your center - if you take it seriously enough, you'll have fun
Carl: there are some very advanced communication skills also having to do with composing for interacting musicians. A hundred years ago it was a matter of course that musicians should reproduce what was written and follow a conductor, just marching along. Composing for people, instead of just for parts on the paper, is something very new, and it really makes us awake. For this, we really need to develop our tools, notation for instance. Composing could be a way of sharpening that which is already present within improvisation
Henrik: with a very good conductor, people might actually be encouraged to listen to each other, making the musicians feel responsible
Carl: please tell me something from your working here which you think is very important
Jens: silence is very important
Juan: Silence means to stop the external world in order to leave room to the inner voice, to the voice within the heart. I think harmony between persons is the definitive aspect. Pitch is replaceable, but a good atmosphere is crucial. I can conceive at least two possible models: (a) a 'vertical' society with a primus inter pares [latin - "first among equals"], or (b) a horizontal society in which all are potential stars and leaders and who share responsibility. Both models are acceptable and efficient - in different contexts
Regine: I work to build up common energy before playing the first tone
Juan: knowing your OWN motivations may be important - and also the motivations of the others, their language and values scale
Carl: polyphony and thematic development are fantastic models from classical music tradition. With the latter, you can sustain long developments, for instance.
Tine: if you have no leader but this vertical "everybody is a star"-thing, I think the group has to have a purpose bigger than itself, even if you cannot say a lot about it
Mette: I fully agree with Carl's mental models ... for me it is a special pleasure to improve the music, not myself
Carl: tools are really essential - if I did not know about a hammer, I might try unsuccessfully with various objects and would need to invent a decent hammer... can you tell me about some clever solutions in our music - it could be notation, compositional structures?
Norbert: when I came here for the first time, I expected a rehearsal, and were taken to a concert place where we were to play in public. The only instruction was not to play too much, and that worked very well and was very simple.
Tine: I think it's very important not to try to be clever
Leopoldo: improvisation should be composition in real time, and composition should be a way to try something new, not just repeat what you already knew
Juan: in principle OK - but my first goal is not to do something new but something I am satisfied with. It doesn't need to be new, but it should be authentic. In my view, authenticity and sincerity have a higher aesthetic value than originality. Avoiding repetition here may be like trying not to repeat the same joke for the same audience. - Concerning composition, instead of thinking of an empty paper, one should rather think of ten people who want to play your piece and are awaiting your instructions. For the piece "De lo subjetivo como forma de expresión" which we just rehearsed, I studied the tempo and character indications in a string quartet by Schönberg, like "adagio passionato", "desolato", then happy again etc, a sort of program. You could say I was repeating a historic model, but - differences are enormous
Carl: we do that all the time, also without knowing it....
Juan: yes, and I have accepted that, I repeat models but with my own choice...
Carl: Stockhausen repeated serialism in Aus den Sieben Tagen...
Leopoldo: serialism is not a style but a way of thinking, or better, an universal law - that can be designated in new ways
Juan: Tine sort of mapped a physical process in her composition "Transformation". Boiling water is not new in itself, but she reflected that in a new way. So inspiration is everywhere
Tine: first I had a nightly dream about this piece. When working it out, I incorporated knowledge from my vocal group of how to build up energy together. Water is not boiling just because one is looking at it, but because the temperature is high enough.
Carl: one might conclude by quoting Juan in saying, inspiration is everywhere and adding, if you are awake enough.
Juan: and if you are not awake, inspiration is elsewhere (laughter).