Is Your Music Pre-Ordered, Or Is It Improvised?

Today's blog subject comes from the mailbag. Someone who is new to presenting sound sessions recently asked:

“So the question is, do you have a certain order for sound sessions, or is it all improv?”

For me, it’s a combination of both. While each night is improvised, there are certain musical elements that often reoccur from session to session—things like rhythms, melodies, specific sounds made with specific instruments. I choose from these small gestures for each performance. The actual choosing is an intuitive process. It's not so much a conscious, “I will play this Gong right now,” as much as I feel compelled to move to some other instrument, rhythm, or melody. 

I look at what I do as one continuous forward motion (from start to finish) and I will choose various elements as I move along. The order I play things in varies, and not everything gets played every time (for example, I've had people tell me after a session that I didn't play something—their favorite sound—they had heard me play before). Also, not every instrument gets played at every session. If I don't feel it, I don't play it. Conversely, sometimes I spend a lot of time focusing on one particular instrument, or set of instruments, because something is asking for deeper exploration. Everything I do depends on the information/stimulus that I am receiving at the moment, and this is all filtered through 40+ years of actual performing experience.

The other part of this is, that what I do is constantly evolving. I'm always looking for new and different sounds, rhythms, musical experiences. This is not like your average rock band playing the same 10 songs, in the same order, every night.

Like everything, you learn and find your path by doing. I hope this helps.

~ MB

Chop Wood / Cary Water / Play Gongs™ / Keep Moving


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