“Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art”

Free Play: Improvisation in Life and ArtThis is not the first Impro book you should read.  It’s one of those books you should read after other Impro books.  This was my first reading of “Free Play”, and it will be interesting to see what I make of it the second time around.

Some of the quotations which I liked, can be found after the “Continue reading –>”

I’m not quoting the Prologue: A New Flute, as it is it’s own chapter.  You should read it though.

As an improvising musician, I am not in the music business, I am not in the creativity business; I am in the surrender business. Improvisation is acceptance, in a single breath, of both transience and eternity. We know what might happen in the next day or minute, but we cannot know what will happen. To the extent that we feel sure of what will happen, we lock in the future and insulate ourselves against those essential surprises. Surrender means cultivating a comfortable attitude toward not-knowing, being nurtured by the mystery of moments that are dependably surprising, ever fresh.

Improvisation is intuition in action, a way to discover the muse and learn to respond to her call. Even if we work in a very structured, compositional way, we begin by that always surprising process of free invention in which we have nothing to gain and nothing to lose. The outpourings of intuition consist of a continuous, rapid flow of choice, choice, choice, choice.  When we improvise with the whole heart, riding this flow, the choices and images open into each other so rapidly that we have no time to get scared and retreat from what intuition is telling us.

Full-blown artistic creativity takes place when a trained and skilled grown-up is able to tap the source of clear, unbroken play-consciousness of the small child within. This consciousness has a particular feel and flow we instinctively recognize. It is “like tossing a ball on swift flowing water: moment-to-moment nonstop flow.”

When we are flexible and sensitive, we are always sliding into base in a continuous dance of feedback, just as an athlete is always dancing around in order to meet the ball at the precise time and place.

But more important, mistakes and accidents can be the irritating grains that become pearls; they present us with unforeseen opportunities, they are fresh sources of inspiration in and of themselves.

We often make the mistake of confusing education with training, when in fact these are very different activities. Training is for the purpose of passing on specific information necessary to perform a specialized activity. Education is the building of the person.

The Vietnamese Buddhist poet-priest, Thich Nhat Hanh, devised an interesting telephone meditation. The sound of the telephone ringing, and our semiautomatic instinct to jump up and answer it, seem the very opposite of meditation. Ring and reaction bring out the essence of the choppy, nervous character of the way time is lived in our world.