Tag Archives: improvisation

jazz brain

jazz brain

Your Brain on Improvisation  (a 20-min. TED talk by a physician/surgeon and muscian)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4k5JFmahVY  

 

Click on this link for large image:

http://66.media.tumblr.com/52bd5cc9da4c13c70503c13d840dc7da/tumblr_ml5b4ohAgz1rd1n1oo1_r1_1280.png 

 

http://science-junkie.tumblr.com/post/47797444631/why-your-brain-loves-that-new-song-when-jazz 

 

Giant Steps

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxTdBg1MoQQ

 

 

Bobby Watson – Being a Student and Being a Teacher

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZcWLa5_NNU

IRockJazz caught Bobby Watson on his recent visit to Chicago, and he discussed how he came to be a Jazz musician, how he picked the alto sax, and his view of Jazz education now. Don’t miss the quote Bobby recalls from Art Blakey when he visited University of Miami as a guest lecturer and addressed the students “You come here to get your diploma, you come with me to get your education”

Interested seeing more great interviews? Visit www.irockjazz.com

http://api.hub.jhu.edu/factory/sites/default/files/styles/hub_thumbnail/public/music_mind.jpg?itok=CcSrgjAr

Ever hear of “trading fours?”

It’s that back-and-forth trade jazz musicians do when they’re engaged in a musical “conversation.” One musician will play four bars of music, and the other will respond with four bars of her own. This improvised call and response is one of the things that makes jazz music so … jazzy. (Here’s an example of trading. Notice how the bass and piano cut out at regular intervals.)

Scientists at Johns Hopkins wondered whether studying the brains of musicians actively engaged in trading fours might shed light on the relationship between music and language. Under the direction of Charles Limb, an associate professor in the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at the School of Medicine, researchers placed musicians inside an MRI machine, gave them a special (see: non-magnetic) keyboard, and told them to have at it.

Here’s what researchers discovered: The brains of jazz musicians engrossed in spontaneous, improvisational musical conversation showed activation of brain areas traditionally associated with spoken language and syntax, areas that are used to interpret the structure of phrases and sentences. But the musical conversation shut down brain areas linked to semantics—those that process the meaning of spoken language.….”

More:

http://hub.jhu.edu/2014/02/19/your-brain-on-jazz/ 

 

 

Creative Brains: Music Art and Emotion

University of California Television (UCTV)  [71 minutes]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6txK8LXg1o

 

http://img.medscapestatic.com/pi/features/slideshow-slide/brain-disorders-art/fig1.jpg?resize=645:439

 

Secrets of the Creative Brain 

The Aspen Institute (58 minutes)

Nancy Andreasen is a leading neuroscientist and psychiatrist at the University of Iowa whose fascinating research into the creative mind has been informed in part by the stream of remarkable writers who gather there. She is now conducting a study that uses neuroimaging to visualize the creative brain in action, examining both artists and scientists. Her work also examines the roles of nature v. nurture and the relationship between creativity and mental illness.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=unAbERa0otY 

 

https://www.allaboutjazz.com/photos/2010/brainmusic800x480.jpg

Creativity, Genius and the Brain

Dana Foundation (93 minutes)

Presenters:

Nancy Andreasen, M.D., Ph.D.

Andrew H. Woods Chair of Psychiatry, University of Iowa College of Medicine

John Kounios, Ph.D.

Professor of Psychology, Drexel University

Roberta B. Ness, M.D., M.P.H.

Rockwell Professor of Public Health, Vice President for Innovation

The University of Texas School of Public Health

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFPBxjp1iM0 

 

https://neuroaestheticsnet.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/oup-cover.jpg?w=711&h=1025

The Neuroscience of Creativity, Flow, and Openness to Experience – Scott Barry Kaufman, Ph.D.

BTC Institute  (64 minutes)

BioPharmaceutical Technology Center Institute

Part of the 12th Annual International Bioethics Forum, “Further Studies in Human Consciousness: Creative Insight”, held by the BTC Institute in Madison, WI on May 25-26, 2013.

For detailed information about the forum and more videos, please visit http://www.btci.org/bioethics

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Un_LroX0DAA 

http://cdn.creativityatwork.com/wp-content/uploads/whole-brain-intelligence600px.jpg

Creative Brains (Scott Kaufman)(20 minutes)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zpWLZntADdI 

 

http://www.azquotes.com/picture-quotes/quote-there-is-no-one-part-of-the-brain-which-recognizes-or-responds-emotionally-to-music-oliver-sacks-128-31-09.jpg

David Lynch: Consciousness, Creativity and the Brain (two hours)

David Lynch, the critically-acclaimed director behind such films as Blue Velvet and Mulholland Drive, spoke at the University of Oregon on Tuesday, November 8th, 2005. The Lecture is entitled “Consciousness, Creativity and the Brain.” Lynch was accompanied by Drs. John Hagelin, Ph.D., and Fred Travis, Ph.D.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vtgtkuKs8HQ 

 

http://izquotes.com/quotes-pictures/quote-in-jazz-you-listen-to-what-the-bass-player-is-doing-and-what-the-drummer-is-doing-what-the-david-amram-4537.jpg

 

The Primacy of Consciousness – Peter Russell – Full Version (70 minutes)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-d4ugppcRUE 

Robin Williams

Robin McLaurin Williams was recognized as a one-of-a-kind genius, graced with a gift and a need to give it, scarred by his own humanity, and a penchant for hard work. He reached deep into himself. With over seven hours of video available here, this is a tribute to him and his gift on the first anniversary of his death.

“He made us laugh, hard, any time you saw him,” Crystal began. “As genius as he was onstage, he was the greatest friend you could ever imagine—supportive, protective, loving,” Crystal continued. It’s very hard to talk about him in the past because he’s so present in all of our lives.

“For almost 40 years, he was the brightest star in the comedy galaxy, but though some of the brightest stars are extinct now…They float in the heavens, so far away from us now, their beautiful light will continue to shine on us forever…[and sometimes] you’ll think to yourselves, ‘Robin Williams, what a concept.’”

Just weeks after Williams’ death, Crystal took the stage at Los Angeles’ Nokia Theatre to preside over a heartfelt stand-alone tribute to his longtime colleague.

© 2014 E! Entertainment Television, Inc. 

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robin_Williams 

http://www.rollingstone.com/movies/features/peter-travers-on-9-of-his-favorite-robin-williams-performances-20140812 

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Documentary: Robin Williams 

best moments 1951-2014 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2rSblJshVE (33:12)

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Perhaps some of the best of Robin Williams was his 90-minute appearance on The Actor’s Studio with James Lipton; here’s a slice: 

http://www.bravotv.com/inside-the-actors-studio/videos/classic-inside-the-actors-studio-moments?clip=2640971 

It’s been up and down on YouTube and the DVD is available for purchase through various outlets:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0611309/ 

James Lipton: If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

Robin Williams: “There’s seating near the front. The concert begins at 5. It’ll be Mozart, Elvis, and one of your choosing.” Or just nice, if heaven exists, to know that there’s laughter, that’d be a great thing. Just to hear God go, “Two Jews walk into a bar…”.

As Lipton reveals, Williams’s installment of the series was the first-ever two-hour episode: The actor actually spoke and performed for the audience for over five hours, but Lipton and the producers simply couldn’t bear to edit the performance any shorter than two hours, according to the DVD extras.

Lipton was unable to even ask his first question for the first nine minutes of Williams’s appearance, and it took seven minutes for him to get to his follow-up.

Finally, the part of his appearance that’s passed into legend: Lipton confirms on the DVD commentary that one member of the audience was actually taken away in an ambulance after the show, having developed a hernia from laughing so hard at Williams.

http://www.people.com/article/robin-williams-inside-actors-studio 

More highlights from that appearance at the link above

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Robin Williams – “Seize the Day” – by Melodysheep 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2e_M06YDyY (2:39)

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Robin Williams Hilarious FULL Interview 

on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show – 1991

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iqdSagycCWc (11:00)

 

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Robin Williams breaks down the last ten years of U.S politics

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOE5ztEHFeY 

 

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Robin Williams – On Jesus, Mother Teresa & Gandhi

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJhZcOhLRzE (5:33)

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Robin Williams – Golf (full version)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pcnFbCCgTo4 (4:47)

https://40.media.tumblr.com/7a3f07d0ee65d93e1da6648256e853cf/tumblr_nrubwjrSlI1sylotwo1_500.jpg 

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Robin Williams Crazy First Appearance 

on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qr1DSLoHni0 (1:41)

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Robin Williams – Parkinson interview [2002] 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4LaJDOD5cJI (22:36)

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Robin Williams last appearance 

on Tonight Show with Johnny Carson 5/21/92 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gGxdvkoYqrc (14:02)

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Robin Williams on Letterman Post Surgery 2000

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2igGFIqpJw 

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When Did you Know?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jg_9FQk6UnA (3:09)

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Good Will Hunting – The best Robin Williams scene

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1AvxR5vVgY4 (4:08)

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[HiDef] Good Will Hunting – Park Bench Scene

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBjWHfBHKos (4:47)

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Being Human 1994 

ROBIN WILLIAMS 

Full Length Movie 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LsvbdhqAcVk (2:01:56)

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Robin Williams – 

Live on Broadway (New York 2002) [Full Length]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQCbbMDHHqE (1:39:02) 

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Robin Williams full live performance in Washington (1:29:40)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYNHmPTUqR4 

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Robin Williams on Porn

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Ubjuna5X4w (3:40)

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Robin Williams Viagra Skit

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFM11SmoxfI (6:26)

Arts and Athletics

Arts and Athletics: Using All Your Common Senses

 

I went to see the home opener of a summertime inter-city league game for college players who want to make it to the majors. [Good luck.  There are only 720 such jobs but, as has been said, there are 700 positions and someone’s got to fill them.  And the smallest paycheck they can give you when you win the job is over half a million a year.] 

“Baseball is like church. 

Many attend but few understand.” 

 Wes Westrum

Just the other day, I was told that my grandson is gonna be a catcher.  His coach told me.  

His uncle was a catcher in high school.  His grand-dad was a catcher for the team that won the state Class B slo-pitch championships. 

His coach (his mother) was a two-time NFCA regional Division I All-Star catcher who was nationally-ranked in the top ten in three offensive categories; she earned a master’s degree in sports management while she was an assstant coach for a D-I college team while she played for a perennial national amateur championship club, played pro ball for two years and then did color commentary on TV in the third season, and then earned another master’s degree, that one in elementary education. 

bs8

The Catcher

“His legs are buckled into clumsy shin guards; his face is hidden by the metal grille of a heavy mask….  His chest is covered with a corrugated protective pad, and his big mitt is thrust out as if to fend off destruction…. his field of vision gives him his own special view of the vast ballpark.  In a sense, the game belongs to him.  He is the catcher.”

Time, August 8th, 1955

“Catching is much like managing.  Managers don’t really win games, but they can lose plenty of them.  The same way with catching.   If you’re doing a quality job, you should be almost anonymous.”

— Bob Boone, Kansas City catcher,  in the 1989 season opener issue of AstroSports

 

“A good catcher is the quarterback, the carburetor, the lead dog, the pulse taker, the traffic cop and sometimes a lot of unprintable things, but no teams gets very far without one.”

– – Miller Huggins,

 

in The Complete Baseball Handbook by Walter Alston

 

“Consider the catcher. Bulky, thought-burdened, unclean, he retrieves his cap and mask from the ground (where he flung them, moments ago, in mid-crisis) and moves slowly again to his workplace.  He whacks the cap against his leg, producing a puff of dust, and settles it in place, its bill astern, and then, reversing the movement, pulls on the mask and firms it with a soldierly downward tug.  Armored, he sinks into his squat, punches his mitt, and becomes wary, balanced, and ominous; his bare right hand rests casually on his thigh while he regards, through the porticullis, the field and deployed fielders, the batter, the base runner, his pitcher, and the state of the world, which he now, for a waiting instant, holds in sway.”

—  from “In the Fire”, by Roger Angell

 

Quotes from Baseball’s Greatest Quotations, ed. by Paul Dickson, HarperPerennial, New York, New York 1991.

 

 

“Coaches of tee-ball kids and the like are usually wholechild centered. As the youngsters get older and more skillful, coaches become learner-centered. After a couple of more years, the coaches are sport-centered, teaching strategies as well as more sophisticated techniques….”

 

Coaching the Mental Game

Find out more (and read about the trap into which most coaches fall) in this very short series of excerpts from Coaching the Mental Game: Leadership Philosophies and Strategies for Peak Performance in Sports – and Everyday Life, by Harvey A. Dorfman, Taylor Trade Press (Rowman & Littlefield), New York 2003.

Harvey Dorfman, now deceased, lectured at major universities and for corporations on psychology, self-enhancement, management strategies, and leadership training.

1Dawgs4

To know baseball

is to continue to aspire

to the condition of freedom,

individually and as a people.

A. Bartlett Giamatti, Take Time for Paradise

 

 

http://miselu.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/c24-image-2-1000x970_c.jpg

The book “The Well of Creativity”, based on a series of interviews of Julia Cameron, Natalie Goldberg, Keith Jarrett, Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi et alia by Michael Toms, arrived yesterday. I tore into it like a kid opening presents at his birthday party. 

I have studied or read for years most of these people for years. Cameron’s “The Vein of Gold” arrived a few weeks ago. Jarrett’s music takes up a lot of space on my iTunes files, and links to his YouTube videos on improvsation are tucked away for regular enjoyment. 

While Cameron is a source for those with writing block, she is also a source for those interested in writing or composing music. 

Echoing what John Temple said about being the dream, Julia says simply “be the music”, and I’ve set up my keyboard synthesizer and begun a file for this kind of stuff:

 

http://www.freejazzlessons.com

http://miselu.com/?gclid=CJLXvrSs9cUCFQgXHwodjiQAmg 

 

 

Tab G is the next chapter due out in the e-book series entitled Summon The Magic: How To Use Your Mind to be a better athlete (or anything else you want to be).  

My athletic days are over, unless you count the in-pool therapeutic walking, stretching and swimming I’ll be doing just as soon as the summer warmth returns to the pool.  

But a review of this sixth chapter (“The Arts and Athletics: Using All Your Common Senses”) will help my musical inquiries as I seek to develop and train the small muscle groups in my upper distal extremities. Will that make me a phalangist?

I can still remember the night I first listened to the four-disc series “Time Signatures: A Career Retrospective”, put on my Koss Pro 4A headphones so I wouldn’t awaken the wife, and discovered this song. 

And this feverishly-paced ditty

 

Tab G (The Arts & Athletics)

 

Whatever gets your temperature rising is likely to be aided by 90 pages of excerpts drawn from educators, neuroscientists, performance psychologists, experts in movement disciplines, and two of the people you met earlier in the Je Ne Sais Quoi symposium.  

The sections on developing and using kinesthetic imagery, brainwave entrainment, resonance, improvisation, vocal toning, proprioception, mindfulness, perception, sensory experience, rehearsal, concentration, attention, observation, and awareness skills will slowly get you en fuego.

Turn up the heat on your internal burners and get cooking. 

And remember: you decide what’s on your menu.

jazz, piano, brain

Ahmad Jamal, Yellow Fellow

(Live at the Montreal Jazz Festival)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DvBYV4pLdgg (14:59) June 22, 2014

 

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How the brains of jazz piano players are different

Jordan, Taylor Sloan, Mic –  A study by Dr. Ana Pinho showed that when jazz pianists play, their brains have an extremely efficient connection between the different parts of the frontal lobe compared to non-musicians. That’s a big deal — the frontal lobe is responsible for integrating a ton of information into decision making. It plays a major role in problem solving, language, spontaneity, decision making and social behavior. Pianists, then, tend to integrate all of the brain’s information into more efficient decision making processes. Because of this high speed connection, they can breeze through slower, methodical thinking and tap into quicker and more spontaneous creativity.

Most shockingly, though, Pinho also found that when experienced pianists play, they literally switch off the part of the brain associated with providing stereotypical responses, ensuring that they play with their own unique voice and not the voices of others. Basically, it’s the opposite of Guitar Center riffage — true innovation like Oscar Peterson:

But piano is a taxing and complex instrument for the whole brain. Real pianists are marked by brains that efficiently conserve energy by allocating resources more effectively than anyone else. Dr. Timo Krings scanned pianists’ brains as they soloed and found that they pump less blood than average people in the brain region associated with fine motor skills. Less blood flow means less energy is needed to concentrate. Though that’s likely true of anyone who’s mastered a nimble task, it only compounds the efficiency pianists’ brains develop through mutating the central sulcus and altering their frontal lobe’s function. In pianists, the change in blood flow frees them to concentrate on other things that are totally unique to pianists — like their own unique form of communication.

It’s a difficult concept to grasp, but it’s one of the coolest things about being a pianist. When pianists improvise, the language portion of their brain remains active — like any musician, playing music is fundamentally an act of communication. But the big difference for pianists is that their communication is about syntax, not words. Dr. Charles Limb’s study showed that when pianists solo, their brains respond as if they were responding in a conversation, but they pay attention to phrasing and “grammatical” structure instead of specific words and phrases.

So pianists’ brains actually are different. They are masters of creative, purposeful and efficient communication because of the very instrument that they play. They are the naturally efficient multi-taskers of the musical world.

 

http://prorevnews.blogspot.com/2014/06/how-brains-of-jazz-piano-players-are.html 

 

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music videosKoto Song, Dave Brubeck (rare version)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pvB_ZNtOb4E (9:49) 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oTDYN2yol3I (9:07)

Bill Smith – clarinet

Chris Brubeck – electric bass

Randy Jones – drums

Concord Jazz Festival, Concord, CA

1982

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I had an elongated kinesthetic re-awakening that has to do with music, the brain connection, a personal apogee, the choice of instrument, the fact that I am an iNTP, how I am going to learn to play, what I am going to play, and more (see later).

It has to do with the body and muscles and the sudden bodily awareness that much of my musculature needs, energies, future tasks, and future development are bound up in the musculature of being an upright biped.

The suggestion, as yet fully unexplored along with the YouTubes and lessons given to me by my friend the Arkansas Dirt Devil and who is in fact — name him, book him, convict him, throw away the key — the dude responsible for the growing awareness of who and where music resides in me.

He suggests that a keyboard-based approach would work as an instrument; I had perhaps over-reached by suggesting an accordion of some sort (it’s mobile, doesn’t need power). The keyboard will allow (no, if I am attentive and disciplined, it will force) extensive right-left brain-motor-hand growth and rewiring. I’d be tethered, and that’s alright during an intensive learning phase. 

Part of the explosive awareness about the apogee is this:

I have been a pack-rat. I have (or know where I can find) huge volumes of information about deep politics, history, corruption, etc. It can, to a great extent, serve as fodder for future posting, blogging, etc. [Even the posting is getting to be a bore, as almost every place has turned into a snit-fight between players or small cadres. It’s time to move on, kick it up a notch and transform it, or drop it). It can also serve as fodder for lyrics for songs, starter kits for rants and blog entries, and much more.] But the really explosive (and like stupid doh! Zen thwack of the day) was in coming to brutal awareness that it is time to go back to the beginning.

The beginning for me (in the modern day era) was when I rather suddenly became aware of this song playing in my head. The at-first-grievous annoyance became a sandpapery abraisve and stayed for a month or two until, finally, I stopped in the middle of the parking lot and said “Dave Brubeck! Forty Days!”, and then proceeded to remember when and how I could find a copy. A long, long time ago, in a time far, far away, the previous wife had made off with the entire stereo system and virtually all the LP holdings by a couple that were former college radio station DJ and former college radio station general manager. We had the best, and then she had it. And then one day the mental alarm went off with the strangely-haunting melodies and rhythms of http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGt0gQ5hjvA

[I wrote and told the story to Dave himself, and he sent this nice postcard of him at the piano in front of a giant piece of art not unlike himself). Yes, and I have, since that time, attended a concert by the new (third or fourth) quartet playing live in Saunders Theater — described by the genius behind an exclusive business of music equipment and recordings as the best place to hear and record jazz in America) (a great experience, thank you very much you know who you are, my funny valentine) and heard Bobby Millitello in an absolutely rocking-and-riveting upbeat elongated rendition of Koto Song with him soloing a flute in a Japanese style, including his chanting (with an inch of separation) over with mouthpiece.

I had this thought…that the best way for me to learn the instrument was to have a light and portable keyboard with strap with headphone wiring that allowed me to work, exercise, train and practice both the left hand and the right hand. What better way to turn myself into a functional auto-didactic-and-assisted learner of music theory and composition than to put into my muscle memory. [I have given myself a six-month objective of identifying and acquiring the right tool.][Note that I have since acquired a five-octave keyboard/synthesizer that I can plug into my iMac and cue up GarageBand.]

And on the other hand (pardon the pun), listening to my already extensive iPod collection of tunes, much of which is piano, in the performance, jazz, and other styles. Therein lies the model which I can replicate (or try my damnedest). And it includes a huge collection from the keyboard of the man who will soon meet his Maker as the greatest living expression of (or at least popularization of) jazz. And much other work, and it’s still growing. But it’s slowing down, that growth, and what better way to pay tribute to Dave Brubeck and his career than to turn it into my own personal library of music education, learning, and perhaps even performance, though the performance I think I want to do goes in a different direction of being a supportive but minor player of bass, harmony and rhythm through a keyboard.

Perhaps it is time to stop the growth and take all those seeds in a different direction as a learning pathway and neuro-muscular re-organization (I can’t yet conceive of how the brain will further explode once the corpus callosum is alive and dancing in the polyrhythms of such things as Take Five (in 5/4 rhythm) or Unsquare Dance (in 9/8 rhythm), or … perhaps a tango, or the aikido of life).

The lesson in the great awakening of apogee I just had, and I recognize that I have a very long way to go (yes, even elementary skool but highly up to-date in terms of graphics, animation, etc.) but here are some first impressions:

There ought to be a test of some sort, a survey of prior orientation and skill, or-as-yet-undiscovered method of determining how best to advance in the world of musical self-expression.

Maybe the choice of instrument has a component of moving to it, which gets to the handheld thing, but both are. Or can be. Yes, the more advanced keyboardist probably has three to seven of them.

But the focus again must be on entry level easy-path to learning theory, notation, language, etc. From there, I move on into other instruments but, in recognition of reality and apogee, a keyboard can remain viable at its elementary level without electrical power. By then, both hands would have been cross-trained in theory, harmony, rhythm, and composition that I can squeeze my vast memory and see what comes.

I do recall sitting on the stage next to the keyboardist in the almost-cult-like group Vanilla Fudge when they played “You Keep Me Hangin’ On”.

There is a book/audio on Eurhytmics with CD on teaching kids music by having them move to the notes played on a piano, walking, bending, moving upper arms, in which bass becomes the heavy muscle memory section, and the hands become the higher-pitched brass, reeds, percussion, etc. In this way, as above, with music piped into both sides of my brain as well as inputted into my movement and muscle memory, I get to become the music.

And this, of course, leads and links to dance, voice, aikido, or wider-scale drama/performance, whether for or with two, or more.

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Improvisation

There is nothing extraordinary about improvisation….. A jazz pianist begins playing a theme, takes it through variations, weaves in the second theme, attaches ornaments. The conversationalist draws upon a well-organized hierarchy of knowledge…. In either case, the quality of the performance depends on the depth and flexibility of the learned hierarchy, and the performers ability to exploit better hierarchy quickly, in real time.

Improvisation can be a marvel….the intersection of technique, understanding and creative flair.

Music, The Brain and Ecstasy: How Music Captures Our Imagination, Robert Jourdain, William Morrow & Co., 1997.

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Improvisation

Improvisation is the pinnacle of musicianship. Expressing oneself is a form of communication that is individual, intimate and, when done well, capable of touching the emotions of others. Most improvisation operates within some external design. Improvising requires initiating action rather than responding to someone else’s command; it is an activity that affirms our individuality. Impulse and the realization come from inside, and impulse is the critical element. Improvisation flows from moment to moment, each moment flying out of the previous activity. We find the next step below we are not sure what the next step should be. It requires sizing up the situation, trusting our judgments, and acting upon our own assessments.

Improvisation occurs throughout our day in many ways. A conversation is an privatization, unless we have a prepared speech. As we speak, we pull together the words that express the images, emotions and thoughts in our mind. There is probably no field of activity where improvisation does not occur. Ingenious, impromptu bits of activity often avert disaster. We freely improvise when cooking. Skilled improvisation requires a vision of what needs to happen and the ability to assemble the needed resources. The resources for improvisation are stored as the sensations, the connections and the constructs in our memory. Improvisation excites the memory traces in a lively way, alerting everything available.

Time is an essential element in musical improvisation. When we open to the whole world of knowledge (and we need to do this to explore the maximal number of choices), we cannot review every item with equal consideration. The rational planning part of our mind must back off and give control to the musical impulse. Because the outcome is unplanned, there is always risk involved. The successful improvisation depends on the strength and flexibility of the imagination–its capacity to hold and rearrange impressions from memory. If the memories can be recalled with considerable detail, choices can be made and the results shaped with continuity and with skill.

The Rhythm Inside: Connecting Body, Mind and Spirit Through Music,  Julia Schnebly-Black, Ph.D. and Stephen F. Moore, PhD., Rudro Press, Portland, OR 1997.

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Improvisation

Jazz, that uniquely American musical form, is remarkable not only for the magnificent way that it wears its heart and soul on its sleeve, but equally for its structural-improvisational nature, the depth of its musical intelligence, and its raw life force.

The key to improvisation is that you choose to enter an unpredictable arena, well-prepared. You intentionally take your skills away from the safe place to play in a danger zone. Luck has little to do with it–the more background, preparation and courageous readiness one brings to it, the better it goes. One can spend a lifetime getting better at it; making a habit of it throughout life improves the quality of one’s music in one’s life. Improvisation is a fast series of tactical choices with personal skills. So fast is the choosing that they cannot think or plan; they must rely on educated intuition. Improvising happens in the perpetual present tense, and it always comes with risk.

Musicians are not the only ones who improvise. All of us do it every day: when there’s a traffic problem on our usual route and we try another route; when we meet someone new who catches ourr interest; when we dance; when the child asks where babies come from and we stutter a response; when we lie; when we try to express our feelings; when we tell an anecdote; when we order a meal in a restaurant; when we make love.

The artistic skills of jazz are used to improvise a life. We experiment, return, respond, follow intuitions, weave together thematic strands; we play what is there. It’s like standup Divine comedy. Life jazz is our yearning cruising the streets to find undeveloped raw material of daily life. It is the alchemy by which leaden life experiences are spun into gold. It engages all the skills of the artist to play seriously, to make high-quality experiences in the present tense.

The Everyday Work of Art: How Artistic Experience Can Transform Your Life, Eric Booth, Sourcebooks, Napierville, Illinois 1997.

 

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Keith Jarrett – The Art of Improvisation – YouTube (1:16:08)

 

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http://ecmreviews.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/changeless.jpg 

 

Music video:

Endless (Keith Jarrett)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uqEmBGHHyvA (15:00*) 

 

[buy the album “Changeless” here: http://www.cduniverse.com/search/xx/music/pid/1179042/a/changeless.htm ]

The Allmusic review by Richard S. Ginell awarded the album 4 stars and states, “This is a triumph, for Jarrett has successfully brought the organically evolving patterns of his solo concerts into the group format … a genuine collective musical experience.”[2]

This is quasi-orgasmic and I bought it the first time I was aware of it. It played endlessly for a month and longer. It was an elemental part of my recovery.  “Jarrett is a follower of the teachings of G. I. Gurdjieff (1866-1949),[19] and in 1980 recorded an album of Gurdjieff’s compositions, called Sacred Hymns, for ECM. Jarrett has also visited Princeton University‘s ESP lab run by Robert Jahn.[20][21]”

*The conversation that begins at about the 7-minute mark between Peacock on bass and Jarrett on piano is, for me, as good as it gets. 

 

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Rhythm, Sound, Improvisation and ‘Life Jazz’

Rhythm

Rhythm is found everywhere…, In machines, nature’s tides, in sunlight and wind, in seasons, in animals and plants, in art and architecture, in the human body’s circular and respiratory systems, in the way we walk, and in music.

The word “Eurythmics” comes from the Greek words meaning “good flow”. The ancient Greeks used the term of your rhythmic to refer to the good form of an athlete in action, or the pleasing shape of the statute. When flow is missing, we say “the athlete is off his game”, or” “I do not like that statue”, or “that architecture is fragmented”, or “that music does not move me”.

 Sensory integration is best supported and expressed by linking auditory stimulation and body movement. This is been dramatically demonstrated by Emile Jacques-Dalcroze and the teachers of the Eurythmics approach. As sound vibrations travel through the air and enter the ear, the aural system transmits them to specific areas of the brain for processing. Information about the body’s arrangement in space and the state of its musculature (relaxed or tense) comes to the brain simultaneously through the proprioceptive system. The visual sense carries images of the activities of others around you, or from within your own mind, from which you take cues and clues. This complex flow of internal messages moving on different branches of the nervous system operates similarly in anyone who must perform with precision and skill–a violinist, a tennis player, or surgeon. [Or machinist…]

Practice moving in time to music, stopping quickly when the music stops, starting when the music starts. In order to move with wisdom and flow to music, you must listen carefully, and you will improve your degree of alertness; it becomes a game of keeping up with the music by clapping, then walking, then moving all of your body in more complex ways. If you feel embarrassed doing this with a close friend,

if you feel embarrassed doing this in the presence of others, that’s okay. So start by trying this in a private setting, done with a close friend, but do it. You may remember playing musical movement games of this kind in kid in kindergarten. It’s okay: let go and be a child again.

Although clapping in time with the beat is a common response to music, walking is a more vibrant expression of the beat….  The action of walking involves the whole body. We feel the movement in our knees, ankles, toes, elbows, head, shoulders, back, hips–all over. Walking uses balance as the principal force to propel the body ahead, supported by evenly-timed leg movements. It provides a greater stimulation for memory impressions than clapping, which lacks the demand of balance and the impelling force of leg movement.…  Walking is a simple, reliable source of stimulation for establishing … a sense of beat which then leads to establishing a beat using all kinds of movements including conducting, clapping, swaying, twisting, stretching and skipping. You can become keenly aware of the the varying intensities of energy necessary to move the specific parts of the body: a hand, whole arm, shoulder, or the entire upper torso. The body offers many ways of moving–each with a different flow of effort, direction, articulation and speed. The body is an instrument in itself.

Different muscles can be used to mimic the different rhythms and music. Slow, heavy rhythms might be reflected by movements in the larger muscle groups such as the legs and torso. Quick, light rhythms might involve the fingers or the tip of the tongue. As you learn greater control over your large muscle groups, you will feel corresponding growth in control over the smaller muscle groups. It is a smaller muscle groups that are vitally important in mastering performance on musical instruments. [Musicians are athletes of the small muscle groups!] Musicians, athletes and dancers often make it look so easy. This apparent ease arise arises from repetitive practice–so that their bodies move smoothly and elegantly, without detectable effort, nervous obstruction, or mental or emotional distraction. Playing games with the natural forces of weight and gravity, and taking risks to find the limits of balance, will enlarge your field of sensation and expression.

Lisa Parker, head of Eurythmics, Longy school of Music, Cambridge Massachusetts: “Once students start to use their whole body, it becomes like new worlds in the language. They find a richer vocabulary of behavior; they discover a lot of equipment in the back closet.”

Soon, if you give yourself permission to play at moving your body to music, you will learn to express the quality and characteristics of the music by the manner of your movement… fast, slow, light, graceful, forceful, tentative, exuberant… By learning to move your body to music, you can learn to transfer the feeling of selected pieces of music to your movement and to your performance… Linking movement with sound will help you increase your perceptions and awareness, focus and improve your attention, allow you to develop finer degrees of muscle control, and enhance your ability to improvise and respond creatively in situations of all kinds. Moving to music encourages the shy, lends balance and flow to the awkward, brings control to the impulsive and sensitivity to the unaware. It harmonizes our bodies sensory systems, the evocative influence of our emotions, and our minds memory and creative functions.

When internal communication flows effortlessly between body, mind and spirit without interference, the level of performance, insight and creativity soars.

Practicing Eurythmics will improve and accelerate your kinesthetic awareness. [Practicing tai chi to music may also help.]

With this enhanced experience of making stronger neurological connections with your proprioceptors, you will enhance your athletic capability as well as your musical one.

The Rhythm Inside: Connecting Body, Mind and Spirit Through Music, Julia Schnebly-Black, Ph.D. and Stephen F. Moore, PhD., Rudro Press, Portland, OR 1997.

[Based on the Dalcroze Eurhythmics approach to teaching music, with accompanying music CD, this book suggests a marvelous way to introduce movement with music and the practice of kinesthetic awareness.]

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Father’s Day brought me two gift certificates for iTunes which I just redeemed for five albums:  Keith Jarrett’s Facing You which was described by Esbjorn Svensson as having had a seminal impact on his own work as a jazz pianist; three of Svensson’s albums (301, Seven Days of Falling, and Leucocyte), and Dhafer Youssef’s Birds Requiem

The connection between the Sufism influences on Youssef and the Gurdjieff influences on Jarrett will now inform my own sacred personal dance. Right now, this is playing: http://www.releaselyrics.com/3f9e/esbjörn-svensson-trio-o.d.r.i.p./ 

You will know for sure once you’ve seen the light. 

 

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E.S.T.- Seven Days Of Falling 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vyk5kg-r9Fg (5:58) 

 

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Greatest Jazz Pianists

Jazz has had the broadest perspective of all genres in music since its first note to the present day. It is for that reason that this list is presented in the same manner, with respect to all the myriad forms & interpretations of jazz that exist today. 

Criteria: – These jazz pianists were chosen for their originality, versatility, compositional skill, impact and influence in addition to their technical and improvisational playing of the instrument. 

Newly added names are in Red

Edited By: Rick Varner

Last Updated: 09-12-2011

http://www.digitaldreamdoor.com/pages/best_jazz/best_jazzpiano.html 

&

http://billcunliffe.wordpress.com/2012/03/29/bill-cunliffes-top-10-jazz-pianists-of-all-time/ 

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http://piano.about.com/od/jazzpiano/tp/10_jazz.htm

&

http://piano.about.com/od/jazzpiano/tp/10_jazz.htm 

 

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Patricia Barber, Caravan

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Xm9VUtJo8k (8:13)

 

 

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Tuesday night update:

 

Just now, having received a nice contact comment from Esteban, a guitarist, voting for Art Tatum and The Monk, I find this on Slashdot:

Programming on a Piano Keyboard

Posted by Soulskill  
from the well-tempered-claiverlang dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Here’s a fun project: engineer Yuriy Guts built a Visual Studio extension that lets people program using MIDI instruments. You can write code letter by letter on a piano keyboard. Granted, it’s not terribly efficient, but it’s at least artistic — you can compose music that is also a valid computer program. Somewhat more usefully, it also allows you to turn a simple MIDI input device, like a trigger pad into a set of buttons that will run tests, push/pull code, or other tasks suitable for automation. The extension is open source and open to contributions.