Monday, May 10, 2010

On mysticism and the playing of music

Often technical virtuosity and melodic instinct are not found together and one without the other is analogous to physical beauty without spiritual beauty—I have always worked to unite the two, technical skill and the weaving of notes such as to arouse the mood, the affect in the listener. For me, every recording is “real.” The spontaneity of the artist in collaboration with other artists and interaction with the audience can be diminished to some degree in the studio, particularly when the work is manipulated by engineers or marketing types (and I say this having walked in both worlds). I should note that everything I record (or have played or recorded in my life) is always approached de novo to a large extent. It is useful perhaps (by way of analogy) to consider the mystic Evelyn Underhill. My exposure to Underhill was in my initial survey of the mystic way some decades past. I didn’t realize until recently how she had struggled with the almost impossible task she set herself (involuntarily) of trying to truly understand what the mystics experienced via the intellect alone, without feeling it. I am not an authority on her by any means, but I did get the impression that she eventually achieved some direct experience of the Ultimate via a return to her Christian roots (some Ultimate is better than none, as I am sure Mother Teresa would have agreed, tortured spirit that she was, having tasted but briefly of that great well-spring and then lost it…one wonders, as did Rainer Rilke, how one could lose [God] what children find so easily). Play it the way you feel it (grin).

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