Sunday, 29 May 2011

kiss the ground

Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and frightened. Don't open the door to the study
and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.

Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

Jelaluddin Rumi

Music is such a different kind of creativity to painting or drawing. With drawing or painting you wrestle alone, away from the crowds, with your sense of purpose, with your impetus and your restrictions. Whatever process lies behind the work that eventually appears is over by the time anyone sees what you create.

Music, on the other hand, although of course you can do it alone, ultimately moves in the direction if not of performance, at least of playing with other people. The issues of feeling can't be dealt with in the privacy and safety of your workplace. They have to be dealt with in the moment of creation, in the non-safety of social space. If you can do it, what comes out is ephemeral, and, unless you're recording, is only known within that uniquely shared social space. It's the ultimate 'living in the moment', really. You know it as it's happening - you are it as it's happening - and then it's gone, leaving no trace.

Which makes me think of that idea you sometimes hear being expressed about painting - that you could throw away the end result because 'it's the process that counts'. That doesn't seem quite right somehow, because in painting you're working with materials in order to bring a material object into being. Music doesn't have that kind of materiality.

I love Rumi's idea of 'not opening the door to the study'. This poem is on the cover of a wonderful piece of music (which you can hear here ) which was created by Ry Cooder and Vishwa Mohan Bhatt in the middle of the night, half an hour after they first met, with no rehearsal.

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