8/19/2020

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.

3.

Original Entry
Ethereal and Physical Bodies in Music:

My mind is part of a non-physical, energetic continuum that merges with a physical expression of this energy.

Before I play, I engage and focus my mind in sitting; I engage and focus my body in juggling, stimulating an experience of rhythm and harmony in motion.

Guitar is an intricate interaction of my physical and non-physical aspects of being, through time and space, in sound. Warming up and engaging both aspects of my being awakens fresh clay to mold with my intention and awareness.

Current reflection:

This is another short entry, so I thought I might unpack some of the ideas.

Around the time that I wrote this little snippet, I was first encountering some wisdom from my teacher, Jay Rinsen Weik, who was encouraging me to think about the different roles I inhabit in my life and the responsibilities associated with each. For example, at the time, I was inhabiting the active roll of undergraduate music student at the University of Toledo. Some of my responsibilities included: showing up to classes on time, finishing homework, and practicing. Pretty easy. I was also inhabiting the role of Zen Student, practicing with the community at the Buddhist Temple of Toledo; here I had a different set of responsibilities and roles, some of which included: taking care of my daily meditation practice, or Zazen, showing up to physical services when I could (this was back before the entire world was shut down from COVID), and sometimes filling liturgical roles, like clomping on a drum or playing certain bells during chants and moments of ceremony.

This entry, Ethereal and Physical Bodies in Music, was an extension and exploration of these, ‘The Roles of My Life at This Current Moment in Time – Sam Rugg, Undergraduate, early 2010’s’

Within my first sentence, “My mind is part of a non-physical, energetic continuum that merges with a physical expression of this energy,” I was appreciating the recognition of the apparent dichotomy that my body and mind seems to share. Clearly, if I sit and just think about how nice it would be to have a cheeseburger, alas, no cheeseburger will arise. But If I get my ass up and take some initiative with my body, I can bring my cheeseburger vision to life. As I continue to live, breathe, and practice my craft and engage with my Zen Training, my understanding keeps evolving and changing, but at its heart I think was really trying to acknowledge, “Hey I have a mind that thinks and a body that acts.”

At the same time that these two aspects of myself, mind and body seem to inhabit different spheres, I was also beginning to realize that, “Hey, maybe this mind/body split is less concrete than I have believed up to this moment.” I was starting to sense that my mind and body were woven into the same continuum, that their apparent separateness might actually be an incomplete perception. I started really diggin’ the thought that my mind and body were expressions of the same thing, but just across multiple dimensions.

“Maybe my body is the manifestation of my life through space, and my mind is the manifestation of my life through time!” I might think to myself.

Is it?

I don’t know.

But, however these two aspects of my being map out onto reality, I was feeling a deeper connection that I wanted to acknowledge, a seed of awareness that I wanted to cultivate.

The next line: “Before I play, I engage and focus my mind in sitting; I engage and focus my body in juggling, stimulating an experience of rhythm and harmony in motion.” Here, I am invoking some intentions that, if I’m being honest, sound really great to me from this current vantage point. I definitely have not been regularly framing my musical practice with these two warm-ups, meant to engage my ethereal and physical bodies before I hunker down to practice my instrument.

I reasoned that, if I took five or ten minutes to practice Zazen (my seated meditation), then I could effectively focus my mind and bring myself back to my center, internally. If I took another five or ten minutes to roll this focus into my juggling practice, (yes, I definitely have a juggling practice that I have been cultivating since late 2011) then I could engage my body with the natural rhythm of throwing and catching objects, spatial and temporal awareness, and the feeling of flow.

Focus the mind, focus the body, then hit the wood shed to sharpen my musical craft and training? Fuck yes. That still sounds great to me. Definitely have NOT been doing this over the last 5 – 7 years.

It’s funny, in this moment, I’m recognizing how wonderful it would be to intentionally frame my guitar practice with these specific, and almost liturgical practices: Focus mind, Focus Body, Warm Up on the Guitar, Shed my craft at the edge of my ability, then cool off, offer the merits, log the work, and close the book. Perhaps I was writing this entry, from all those years ago, to me now. I have the capacity and time to take this up. I wonder what this ritualized practice might yield for my life?

“Guitar is an intricate interaction of my physical and non-physical aspects of being, through time and space, in sound. Warming up and engaging both aspects of my being awakens fresh clay to mold with my intention and awareness.”

The coda. As I read over this entry and unpack it, I’m recognizing more and more the liturgical nature of this compact entry. In this last set of lines, I am tying up all of my intentions, tuning my mind and heart to a particular feeling-tone and quality that I would like to cultivate as I continue to engage with my spiritual, physical, and musical practices. In our own way, I think we each want to bring the best aspects of ourselves forward to the activities we cherish most in our life, striving to do the best we can with the circumstances we are given. Can we cherish all of the circumstances, not just the super-cool and most engaging moments, bringing our best to the most mundane and the most difficult moments of our lives?

May it be so.

_/\_

Sam
Kogen

Musical Liturgy #1

My mind is part of a non-physical, energetic continuum that merges with a physical expression of this energy.

Before I play, I engage and focus my mind in sitting; I engage and focus my body in juggling, stimulating an experience of rhythm and harmony in motion.

Guitar is an intricate interaction of my physical and non-physical aspects of being, through time and space, in sound. Warming up and engaging both aspects of my being awakens fresh clay to mold with my intention and awareness.”

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.