vrijdag 16 oktober 2015

The urge to create

If I want to get anything from this period, besides my health, it is to be able, to not be embarrassed about and to take the time to create. To make something out of nothing. 

When we go to school the system takes away developing creativity and further in kids. It is all, putting it very black and white, about analysis, about using existing systems to come to certain and especially planned result. 

I remember my first poetry class when I was 12. The teacher asked what we thought a certain poem was about. I was fascinated by the text and gave an answer. I can't remember what I said or which poem it was, but I did remember the answer: 'No, that is not correct'. Someone else gave the 'correct' answer. 

The rest of my high school followed this path more or less. And even after 10th grade my Greek teacher tried to stimulate me to spend less time on my horn and music and more time on school. How wrong could he have been!

It would all have been bearable if our creativity was stimulated somehow. I can remember one project which we were all very excited about. A physics project that we had to come up with ourselves and work our on our own. 

But that was it. 

Also on the conservatory I missed basis classes to create something. And I always defended this: classical music is creative. We have to think of programmes, phrase, come up with a tempo, etcetera! But in the end we play notes by other people. Which is great , don't get me wrong. There's great music written which I love to play. But I miss that nobody showed me how to make things. Really whatever. To write this blog is something already. But how great would it have been if someone would showed how to come up with subjects, and how to construct a text? I am finding out now as I write. And that works too. Like the old jazz players, who learned to play by doing it, playing sessions, imitating records. Sure, that works too. But if your calling is not strong enough you're stuck reproducing. And I think everyone should know what it is to create something, from nothing. 

Martijn's suggestions during our class

Today I had my first composition class from Martijn padding. It was a revelation. I prepared something for him. A sort of minimalistic modal piece for solo instrument. The first step was to overcome embarrassment. I played so many good notes in my career that after every two notes I judge them: I have heard this before and better. But I did passed this. I think because of photography. I learned to separate the creation flow from the analysis flow. Like practicing, playing and trying to analyze what could be better. 

I sat down at the piano and started playing notes and writing down what I thought sounded good. I did get stuck often. But I just tried to go on. And out came some ideas for my composition class which we used and discussed. I now have a starting point for something new. I am not sure how I will develop this. And that's fine. Even if it won't evolve into a piece it's all good. I spend some hours into making something. And that's what it's about for now. 

Reinventing the way I listen to music with Hank Jones and Charlie Haden

When I started making music it changed my life. It was not only the music itself, but also the social aspect, finding friends who like the same thing. People who like to memorize Michael Brecker solos, who love to study ugly overtones every day and are always on he look out for new music to listen. The way we listened and studied music changed the way I think.

In 2008 this all changed. I as injured in an accident. My ulnar nerve was severed and my right hand was paralyzed for about half. The doctors predicted I could never play again.
They were wrong.
I didn't play for about half a year and started to practice again. My first project was a cd with pieces that I could play with one hand. I released a cd called 'On the Other Hand' after. My idea was that the cd was my final project as a musician or the start of a new period.

It turned out to be the last.

And then I got cancer. Again another season of recovery. Another period of contemplation. 

In the last four years I have largely stopped listening to music. Photography took over. I listened to music intensely for 35 years before that. Discovering so much creativity, sounds, new stuff, ranging from old music to gospel, from baroque to Andrew Lloyd Webber, from Debussy to Xenakis, from Charlie Parker to Evan Parker... And then it stopped. I discovered photography, and kept playing.

Now I have cancer and I am undergoing chemo therapy. And I am rediscovering music. Being a pro musician changed the way I experience music. One of the reasons I listen to music to get something from it. To be inspired for my craft in some way.

Now I am getting back to listening to music. Not being able to play and being in survival mode in my daily life has changed the way I listen to music. 

Charlie Haden & Hank Jones on @AppleMusic

I found this album through my Apple Music subscription. Gospel-like folk tunes played by Hank Jones (recorded three months before he died) and one of my idols, Charlie Haden.
I have listened to it several times already the last week. I played it for my friends and the album accompanies me on my daily walks. It's a simple album. There's hardly one dissonance on it. The bass parts are basic and the piano doesn't play alterations.

But this album will not give something to work with in my own practice. Yes, maybe abstract inspiration, but no concrete ideas, big or small. I just enjoy this album. No strings attached. I can listen to it and not think about how I can incorporate this somehow in my own playing. I don't listen to this album, listening for things I like or don't like.

Being a musician changed the way I experience music. And that's fine. But I guess that's what people mean when they decide that do not want to be a pro musician and keep enjoying music like a true amateur. Apparently it took me 20 years to discover this. I am not sure if I can go back to this experience of music. But this album is a great start again. 

maandag 12 oktober 2015

Mensen zijn gaaf

In de Correspondent verscheen een tijdje geleden dit artikel:


Over Peter Aleksejevitsj Kropotkin:

(foto: de Correspondent)

De strekking is dat Kropotkin geloofde dat alle mensen goed zijn. In een tijd dat Darwin met zijn evolutietheorie kwam was dat een idee dat lijnrecht in ging tegen de tijdsgeest. En ook nu gaan links en rechts er van uit dat de mens in wezen niet te vertrouwen is. Nou ja, lees het artikel en zijn boeken als je er meer over wilt lezen.

Toen ik kanker kreeg en met mijn chemo begon kreeg ik zoveel berichtjes, bloemen, kaartjes, aanbiedingen om te koken, etc. Het was ongelooflijk. Iedereen was zo geëmotioneerd door het nieuws. Meer nog dan ikzelf leek het soms wel. Mensen die ik soms maar zijdelings kende kwamen langs en waren zichtbaar aangedaan. Ik heb een hele andere kant van mijn kennissen- en vriendenkring leren kennen door mijn kanker. Iedereen is zo begaan met me.

Aan de ene kant is het wel gek dat ik hiervoor kanker moet krijgen, aan de andere kant is het ook wel voorstelbaar. Het leven gaat voor veel mensen (inclusief mezelf) als een sneltrein aan me voorbij. Door de kanker en vooral de chemo moet ik pas op de plaats maken. Een seizoen lang. Als je hoort dat iemand in je buurt, op deze leeftijd!, kanker heeft, stop je even met alles wat je doet. Het behoort kennelijk tot de mogelijkheden dat je lekker bezig bent, je leven aan de gang is, en dat dan dit gebeurt. Het is vooral lullig voor mij, maar het doet je even beseffen dat alles kwetsbaar is.

Maar dat is het niet alleen. De mensen om me heen zijn écht met me begaan, en zijn zich veelal rotgeschrokken. Er is meer aan de hand. Iets onverklaarbaars, échte empathie. Opeens valt er een hoop onzin om me heen weg. Soms heb ik het gevoel dat menselijke relaties draaien om, of in ieder geval gedeeltelijk zijn gebaseerd op, geven en nemen, maar dat is nu weg. Ik kan niets tot weinig geven op dit moment. En toch geven mensen mij heel veel. Ze willen wandelingen met me maken, sturen me bloemen, kaartjes, CD's, bellen me. Zonder iets terug te verwachten.

Als er nou iets is wat ik over wil houden aan deze tijd, dan is het in ieder geval dit.