Sunday, March 20, 2011

Art Practice

This summer, I am going to have the opportunity to spend a month in residence at Zen Mountain Monastery. In going to ZMM, I had to examine what I would be doing with art practice and body practice for that month. My current plan for art practice is focussed on shakuhachi. However, the only resource on Zen art practice that I have found is geared largely to visual media. So these next months I am exploring the process.

As a novice player, I have a smaller range on the instrument that I can play effectively with. But in that range, and around its edges, I will play like a child.

Right now I am working on composition. This is also good theory practice, as I am writing in traditional kinko notaiton. Again, I am staying within what I have learned thus far, but the depth is huge, even if the breadth is limited.

In a few months I am going to switch over to recording. Specifically recording improvisation.

The basic form for me right now is to sit for a few minutes and let the mind settle. Then I blow Ro for a few long breaths. At that point the paper comes out and I play with whatever phrases come up. In a honkyoku approach, each breath is my time signature. I endeavour to keep each phrase its own expression, but I also try to stay keenly aware how phrases are linked. The peice tells be when I am done.

I have completed my first piece in this process. It is called "Beginning". When I am sure my playing accurately reflects the way I entended it, I will record it and share it.

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