Reply To: Embodiment and Flow

  • Don Salmon

    April 4, 2023 at 4:16 pm

    Hi folks – great discussion here.

    I started composing music when I was 11 (playing the accordion!!ARGHH) and continued enjoying it as a kind of free form improvisation for the next 6 years. I learned harmony by listening to and improvising on all of the Beatles’ songs, and most of my friends in rock groups learned to create music by ear.

    When I was 17, I took a year off from high school to study formal composition and it drove me crazy at first. I had somehow managed to improvise a somewhat sophisticated piece that was a kind of cross between Bartok and Profokiev. Well, my composition teacher showed me all kinds of (very left hemisphere) tricks to play around with the main theme, the harmony, etc.

    I got nowhere for months, as I would improvise something that sounded good but had no logical structure, or I’d compose a few bars that were logically clear but sounded terrible.

    Then one day something happened and took over my hand and I simply sat with the music paper and “composed” logically clear AND nice sounding music – about 1 1/2 pages of it. This was astonishing to me and initiated a life-long interest in the integration of intuition and analysis (RH/LH).

    I saw it expressed in countless ways when I did research as a psychologist or wrote psychological evaluations and even in doing therapy. I see it in amazing ways in the contemplative and yogic worlds, East and West, where SO many these days have a left hemisphere fascination with “techniques” – yet if you go back a few centuries, you don’t find spiritual practice (even among many if not most “yogis”) so obsessed with breathing and postures and mantras – well, mantras, but often more as a devotional means of bringing attention to an infinite “reality” – but that’s another topic)

    I spend a little time each day going to my keyboard (music, not computer) and just opening to whatever inspiration strikes. It’s amusing – having been a near fanatic Jarrett fan decades ago, I still find motifs and even passages of his flowing into my improvisations.