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Improv 04

Improvisation as Prayer…


                   Beginning in silence, holding only an instrument, listening within, 
observing  a point for departure into the inner world of sudden creative expression,
tapping the well to draw out a first sound in a musical exploration, that sound which 
then will be observed faithfully, and which then move with a life of it’s own into the next, 
and the next, growing naturally along an undetermined path, to be noticed as music 


            We follow this movement, listening creates a connection as we observe
ourselves responding, and allowing the flow of motion, which becomes melody,
rhythm, and harmony that reveals itself at the moment of creation, in the act of doing,
listening and responding, allowing the inner workings of the Soul to be made manifest.
Drawing new images, from the subconscious. Where do the images come from?
Emotion and Sound-Vibrating Life and sustaining force… Who are we, but the vessel
of transmission, the intermediary physician of this living sound, which shapes itself into
a music, which becomes from our mediation.  And then, what is the Source of this movement?  

           Improvisation is a part of life. It is a time of crossing. Crossing the threshold of known
and unknown. It is truly the instantaneous momentary points of departure based on memoirs
of experience and the void of the unknown. Whether we are listening for and through our inner
voice, for the words we need, or the directions to do, or whether we are so tuned that our
allowance of the given activity transcends beyond conscious direction, to psychic automatism,
sudden acumen, or emotional abandon, we find the “flow” and observe the “direction”.  

We are challenged to accelerate, withdraw, or proceed beyond our own creative
expectations, to discover that which is given to us, that we give over to, that we channel
to new levels, and observe without self-judgment.  We don’t know exactly where or how
we will manage.  When we can’t know a given outcome, but must respond, then we improvise
and therefore experience. When we are living in the moment, we are improvising our life.   

            I would like to invite you to consider the nature of a very natural form of music,
which is called  “Free Improvised Music.”  You may find it interesting to realize that this
music is very akin to prayer.   It begins with a point of departure, in which no one is certain
what will happen, just as our lives begin each and every day.  We wake up and proceed with
faith that the walk, we are about to embark upon, will take us on the path to higher consciousness
and service to a better world. Even on ordinary days, there is always a miracle, waiting to be realized.
Sometimes they are small positive outcomes to mundane situations, but they are only real if they are
noticed and felt.  It can be as simple as a moment of sharing, or feeling the wonder of changing
seasons, or noticing sentiments.  Or the act of slowing down enough to notice that you are
growing older, and that autumn is once again upon us, with it’s smells and sounds, it’s
clear blue days…to be enjoyed.  Never mind the “gotta’s” (gotta do this and gotta do that),
but in noticing the feeling of the air at the point of the intake of your breathing…
This submissive awareness is a form of prayer.

                Prayer is a time of introspection. It is the time when we search our heart for feelings,
for needs, for communication with the Spirit, however we define it.  We sit in silence and listen deeply. 
If we are fervent, we come away feeling a renewed connection with our world of Spirit, a gentle knowing, 
and even a subtle change in our heart.

                Music, as the emotional transformation of Sound, has the power to move us to
this point of connection. Just the act of simply listening and remaining aware and open to
it’s message, comprehending it’s movement, in melody, harmony, and vibration can give us
the same inspiration as drinking in the colors of the sunset upon the clouds while feeling a gentle
breeze upon our skin and so we Silently listen…to the Spirit in music, to the awesome Sounds 
of our environment, and marvel at the Sound of Life all around us.

 As a form of music, Free Improvisation is an art form.  It is the art of taking the
first sound uttered,  and riding that sound through, while noticing a musical landscape
that is forming, as we are attentive to its creation.  It is the act of allowing the creation
to manifest through our willingness to participate, whether as music maker, or as listener,
by following the process. It is an opportunity for that which arrives from our subconscious
to show us what is real and imaginary.  It challenges a new kind of space. It does not just
represent linear time from beginning to end, but it is manifesting real space with great depth,
between the beginning and the end. It is a time of expansive listening, to both the music that
is being received, but also to the subconscious thoughts and feelings that come up during
that process of listening…   It is the willingness to give over to another frame of reference. 
Of being guided, of being an instrument of guidance, and allowing the creative force to
speak through us.  It is not about a finished product, so much as it is about the process.
The process of actively improvising music is a letting go of the standard passing of time,
and receiving an expanded awareness of energy, manifested in sound, movement,
and perception.

             I invite you to participate, as improvisatory music is as natural and spontaneous
as the cry of a baby.  Begin with your subconscious mind, your ears, & your own voice. 
Just notice your first Sound, and allow its continuation. Connect with it, as the Sound continues
to grow and explore it’s own territory.  Take note of the feeling of it.  See it as a touching in with
the Soul, with the Spirit of the Universe, with the Creator of all Creation, in harmony with the great
Unknown, and with others like yourself, who have given a moment of time to vibrate in the pool 
of  frequencies that make up the Universal Movement which is known as Life.  As you deepen in
your musical  practice, draw in your awareness and watch as you begin to improvise and respond,
magnifying the musical moment into a metaphor for the events of the world.


                                                                               ~LaDonna Smith

                                                                             (revised, October 6, 2004)