Monday, November 15, 2010

Head Space

This week I'm in a crises mode  :)  Not really "crises" but I'm preparing intensely for my upcoming concert in Hamburg, Germany.  I'm performing John Adams' "The Dharma at the Big Sur" with Hamburg Symphony on the Thanksgiving day.

Since the early 90s, I started to compose for myself, using violin and violin with electronics.  I started to sculpt my own language, searching for my voice, so to speak.  In the beginning, I was not sure of myself---still today I am often not sure of myself--and in fact I kept, and still keep, a notebook writing everyday asking myself, "What do I feel?"  I was putting myself into a cheap self-therapy :)   Anything that bothered me, I learned to extract what was bothering me, often a social situation.   Those "bothers" I found are actually quite debilitating, and kept me from focusing on my work.  It was more important, still is, that I am emotionally free of worry than trying to come up with a compositional scheme.

Today, things are more systematic and I don't get to the point where I have to ask my notebook "what do I feel?", but rather I make tons and tons of list "to do".  I have a multi-faced life with family, kids, etc and I cannot keep up with everything---my head space is full.  Or I like to say, my "RAM is full"  :)   I like to keep very empty head where I could day-dream:  My 9-yr old daughter probably got it from me saying recently, "Don't bother me, I'm busy DAY-DREAMING!!"  and it's the state I also like to be in :)

Speaking of head-space, and going back to composing for myself:  I have met wonderful musicians, composer/performers who only compose for themselves or others, but stopped performing other people's music.  For me, I absolutely LOVE going into someone else's head-space, practicing someone else's compositions, or getting onto someone else's Magic Carpet.  Not performing others' music, I'm afraid, might narrow my musical understanding as a performer/composer.   There are states of mind, feelings, musical languages that I cannot possibly come up with myself, and it is refreshing to learn them.  It is probably as close as going surgically into someone else's brain, but without blood!   Although I have been composing for myself I would very much like to keep performing as a "musician for hire" performing someone else's music.

As for how I practice, you will have to catch my husband and ask how he feels about it :)  I decided to marry him (in my mind) when I took him to one of my tours performing a recital in Budapest.  I had a concert to give and I had to practice so I sent him off on his own.  A mathematician by training, I thought he would enjoy visiting great Hungarian mathematicians and artists monuments and spots to visit.  He came back very tired, when I was practicing Luciano Berio's Sequenza No. 8 (by the way, the 1976 work, it was me who gave the US premiere in 1994 in NYC!  Nobody touched it until then.  I got a nice hand-written note from Berio.)

Oblivious to my quite a painful repetitive practicing to listen to (I'm sure), he went to sleep with no problem.   It was this moment I thought, OK, if he can survive my Berio practicing, he would survive me and my life!  :)

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