Walking into my waiting studio space this morning, the first day coming in all set up with my gear, my books and my brain-storm chalkboard, the phrase, “You’ve made your bed, now lie in it,” came to mind. But in a good way. And that’s exactly what I did.
It is taking some crafty gentling of my results-oriented, perfectionist, performative, prove-your-worth side to settle into the quality of time I want to be spending here. We put so much effort as musicians into working as efficiently as possible to save the ever-elusive commodities of time and money that it is hard to slow down into a deeper pace. I actually get a lot of satisfaction out of efficiency, so that’s not a complaint, but exploring and, um, PLAYING, are way more enjoyable with both eyes on the imagination instead of on the clock. Just for a while. And then again later.
Today I sang a lot, using my favourite approaches to viola as a model for exploring a spontaneous approach to my voice. It was fun and freeing to start with a simple sound gesture like a breath or a sigh, then just follow the development of the sound without judgement. It’s musical meditation, essentially, as learned from Malcolm Goldstein years ago. I’ve always held those lessons close, and finally remembered to apply them to the most common yet most vulnerable of instruments.
My first session with a Halifax musician was also today, with the very excellent alto sax player Andrew MacKelvie! A great way to try out new sounds and skills is with someone who’s never heard you play before – no surprises – or all surprises, I suppose!
While writing about what has been stopping me from opening my mouth to sing in improv over the past years, I made a funny slip of the pen: I meant to write something about how the voice can be awkward in abstract improv because it contains such obvious references (to songs, speech, styles of music), but instead I wrote “reverences.” The obvious reverence of the voice.