8/12/20

Please use a discerning gaze when reading these claims, which deserve critical examination. This documentation represents a snapshot of my internal landscape at a certain point in time in my life during my collegiate career.

2.

“On Emotion: From the Evolution of Consciousness by Robert Ornstein:

[Emotions] are at the frontline of experience. Since they evolved to short-circuit deliberations, they spring quickly into action before rational deliberation has time to function (92).”

I am my ability to reflect my emotions onto guitar and musical ideas.
I am my ability to feel and remember emotion encoded in music.
I am my ability to direct and harness emotion with my experience.

This entry is extremely short, so I figured that I might reflect upon the inspiration that moved me to write this several years ago.

I was incredible intrigued when I first read the above passage in Ornsteins’ book. The entire work is a trip, “The Evolution of Consciousness.” To see in writing, this claim that our emotions have an evolutionary nature that allows them to bypass our conscious thought, this hit me deeply. And looking back into time, doesn’t it make sense that emotions would allow our evolutionary ancestors to automatically react out of, say, mortal fear of a tiger in the bushes. To sit and contemplate whether or not the tiger was in the bushes, whether or not the tiger was real, or whether or not the tiger is actually just a perception existing in my own mind, all of these thoughts are going to quickly remove this ancient hominid’s genes from the pool.

These aren’t my thoughts. I’m sure I’ve heard Joe Rogan talk about this too. It’s not a new idea.

But the capacity to engage with music, interfacing with my emotions? That’s interesting. Because if I can engage with music, interfacing with my body and my emotions, can I tap into this instinctual capacity to bypass my logical thought? If my emotions are engaged, if I am deeply feeling something, anything, and then I engage with art, if I channel my feelings into what I’m doing, isn’t that so much richer and deeper than simply hacking apart all of music theory and spilling all the guts and appendages of my instrument’s technical nature onto the music stand in front of me? I went to school for Jazz studies. I am endlessly fascinated by the inner-workings of music theory, harmony, melody, voice leading, rhythm, and how all these elements show up through the instrument in front of me. I can pull up my rubber gloves and pick at things with my tweezers all day. But lord, I sounds pretty dry and boring if that’s all there is when I play.

So what is this about emotions short-circuiting our deliberations? What does it really mean to “play with feeling?” And that’s not rhetorical. Seriously. How does that feel? How do you do that? Are there some ways that I can always emerge from a place of deep feeling, visceral emotion, living vibration when I perform? Can I make a marriage of my arduous effort to organize shapes, structures, cells, intervals, scales, chord voicings, harmony, voice leading, and the whole musical catastrophe with raw-fucking-throbbing-emotion?

This is why I wrote this entry. This is the impulse behind my, perhaps corny, affirmations – how can I harness my biology to help my ego and my thoughts and my sense of self get the fuck out of the way? How can I bring my life and the reality of my successes and failures, the constant turmoil of emotional waves, my fears and insecurities, my power and strength, the still and unmoving ocean of my being, and everything I have into my art. What the fuck does that feel like?

8/6/20

I’ve decided to share my musical inspiration notebook from my college years, one entry at a time. Some entries are carbon copies right from my notebook, others have current reflections added into the original entries, marked with italics.

Please use a discerning gaze when reading these claims, which deserve critical examination. This documentation represents a snapshot of my internal landscape at a certain point in time in my life during my collegiate career.

1.

Seeds of a Mental Construct:
My short time with Vector literally changed my entire perspective on reality and colored my subconscious. In 24 hours of “intense” periods of training, I was firmly enough enough rooted and wired efficiently enough to begin selling a product that I previously knew nothing about. Through a mix of listening and conscious interaction and practice, I was able to develop a strongly magnetized mental construct. I even dreamed of CutCo knives.
Maddie familiarized us to the product and the company. She taught us all about the sales approach, the marketing approach, had us practice from the manual, and gave us hands on experience cutting food.
I can utilize this approach to build my own musical and mental constructs. At this point, it is a scientific process; I am just trying things out, but with a cocktail of integrative practices and perspectives, I can develop and cultivate my musical intuition and my hearing-mind.
Perhaps instead of attempting to digest the entire of field of music, instead I could gear this first perspective towards digesting new tunes and material.

• For new tunes, I can familiarize myself to it through listening to a variety of versions of the song.
• Dissect the chord changes and read them aloud
• Play the melody with the recording
• Play the chords with the recording
• Establish a flow of scales with looper
• Play with triads through changes
• Play with seventh arpeggios through the changes.

Paving, excavating, polishing, building

This is a culmination of all I know. Each one of these bullets have infinite ways to open endless possibilities; is is a 3-day, 5 hour-a-day block of experience.

Each bullet should be practiced and thoroughly appreciated; there is no rush, but there is.

Hands-on playing can be balanced with critical (attentive) listening.

This approach can be geared towards classical materials as well.

I steep in exercise to promote growth.
I play as a listener.
When anger arises, I observe it and diffuse it by tracing and acknowledging its roots. For every anger, there exists a construct for translating, transmuting, and transforming emotion into motivation and understanding.

Here is a piece that was composed back in 2012. It’s a little bit dated now, but I hope you enjoy.

 

The Gorgeous orb of fire gently sank beneath the clouds as a serene shipwreck into the mountains dotting the horizon. Raphael gazed deeply into her misty blue eyes and felt his heartstrings plunge into his glowing center, which he was confident they were sharing; they always had been, and they always would. The emotion swelled in his throat and he felt his eyes glisten as they captured the fading rays of perfection. Perfection…Perfection…Perfection…Perfection…

His mind hung on the word, the three syllables cutting through a strange emptiness he now felt. In fact, his attention swiveled completely and he almost began to feel nauseous. Something felt wrong. Impossibly wrong. It reminded him of a picture; the colors in the sky looked gruesomely lurid, over saturated and bloody. Gazing at his scaly hands, an ethereal sensation washed across his mind and tingled down through his pulsing body, his epidermis crawling with a reptilian dryness. It was all moving so slowly, much too slowly. As she laughed, drops of spittle hung in the air like flecks of dust in an endless vacuum, her honeycomb giggle crunching across his eardrums. From razor blue to a fiery purple to a sickening green, her eyes splintered and fractured the seemingly barren light. He could see the blood pumping through the veins in his eyes and he could see the emptiness of her perfect form cutting a womanly puzzle piece out of the inflated image of his vision. Time roiled around the seams and he realized himself yet again, frozen in a snapshot.

This is what happens to the moment after it passes through us… The thought echoed off indefinitely and grew louder with each oscillation. There was no resolve, the moment stagnated more deeply within itself and his world began to crumble. Billions of thoughts rushed through his mind at light speed, and each consumed his entire focus; He was trapped, a never ending roller coaster. The shattered image of his life had long ago faded, and his environment had taken on a new shape, a new form, breathing, moving, alive, yet absolutely empty. What is this. The question felt more like a command. A story, a book. Impossible. Thinking back, he remembered every single fairy tale and novel, every motion picture, every single storyline ever, beginning, middle, and end. It always happens so perfectly, the guy gets the girl, they overcome evil, live happily ever after. The dragon is always slain. Did they ever realize they were only a story? No. They couldn’t have. The thought was sickening, dreadful, empty.

As he sat in the charged scene that was rapidly consuming his essence, he felt empty. The air was electric, volatile, reacting to his every thought, so he leaned further into the emptiness. The blackness wrapped around him and pushed away from the light, from the crazy scene in his mind’s eye; he felt fear move through him, yet it didn’t bother him. It quickly passed and was replaced by an unending chain of emotions. He didn’t want any of them. The thoughts began to solidify and create unending waves of potential. None of it. I don’t want any of it. I don’t want. I long for nothing. This sick game pushed him over the edge. He wrapped himself even tighter in the blackness. The tension surged through his body, then resided like the ocean waves, then rewound around his soul, and lapsed back into emptiness. A lulling motion, as a hammock, or the wind in the trees, or the pulse of sex, or…

He could feel a strange point ahead of him. A velocity. A familiarity. He wanted to explode. Its all a game…A dance, a fight. It takes two…Who is it that writes the story…? As his mind froze, he felt another freeze, not so far away, just around the corner. Whirling around his eyes pierced the blackness for the presence, yet all he saw was a faint flicker, just out of reach. What is that? He softly wondered as it drew closer. A gentle tug, something delightful. Something soft, warm, familiar. He leaned closer and the light ballooned into a brilliant hue of color and he felt a slither around his fingertips. The life returned to his body and his eyes, and the lush grass beneath him seemed to hold him tightly, he fit perfectly into the form that held him. A sharp gasp of cool air and…

Raphael sat up into an orange and purple sky and a cool breeze on his brow, loving arms wrapped around his chest.

“What is it love?” Sarah asked as her lover shifted. A heavy sob caught her completely off guard and the incredible love in her heart pivoted 180 degrees and a dreadful unease began crawling up her back. “Raphael?” She ventured, her mind alert and worrying. His green eyes pierced her soul, and the tension faded immediately when she saw the emotion that lay beneath. The child within Raphael gazed up at her as if he had never seen such beauty in his entire life. Sarah almost felt like crying suddenly, and she realized they were sharing a similar feeling, though in her mind she couldn’t fathom what it was or where it had grown from, but it didn’t matter. “Are you okay?” She smiled through misty eyes.

He nodded dumbly and drew closer, feeling her heartbeat reverberate in his lungs. They sat for awhile in the starry night sky, leaning comfortably on the tree they had collapsed onto during their laughing fit, until they both drifted off into sleep. Sarah’s dreams tightly followed the experience of the night, from the breathtaking hike to the summit of hawk creek mountain, to the joyous laughter that brought them to their knees to the mysterious emotion that had moved Raphael to tears.

But the story and the teller, they slept in absolute peaceful emptiness…

©

Hey All,

Thanks for popping in and glancing over these words. I am honored that you have found your way into this small corner of the internet and have decided to stay.

I’ve never really done any public blogging before, although I love to journal in the physical world. I figured it might be a fun exploration to share some of my creative process in a more public way. There are some artists that I love, and as I sit and think about it, would invest quantities of time and attention into researching their process. Give a little, take a little, pass the inspiration around and document the results, and refine.

So now I need to take the time to go and snoop around and see what there is to learn from the people who inspire me. If you are interested, I’ll share it with you, dear friend and way-seeker, and I’d like to invite you to share any thoughts or feelings that you may have.

Thanks again for hanging for a minute. Stay frosty.

_/\_ Bows
Sam