Blog #16: 由即興音樂看即興人生 From Improvisational Music to an Improvisational Life.
Blog #16: 由即興音樂看即興人生
即興音樂是一種藝術, 絕對不只是在樂器上「求其」製造一些聲音出來. 即興音樂是一種即時性的音樂創作, 需要演奏者將當下的情感, 想法, 利用所有累積了的音樂知識和演奏技巧同一時候表現出來, 還要對周圍的環境, 人物, 其他演奏者作出音樂上的回應和溝通. 產生出來的音樂是浮動的, 沒有特定的軌道, 特定的聲音, 不知道音樂中有什麼元素會突然出現, 突然消失, 何時完結; 即興音樂是一剎那的流露, 那個時刻只會在時空中出現一次, 然後消失. 只有錄音才能夠將它保存下來. 如果將即興音樂「逐粒豆豉」記錄下來, 張那記錄下來的音樂再一次彈奏, 這個音樂已經不算是即興音樂.
我還記得初次嘗試即興音樂那種「驚」的感覺. 驚唔識玩, 驚「無面」, 驚自己彈錯, 驚人地玩得好過自己, 驚進入一個渺渺茫茫, 不明未知的黑洞.
這種驚的感覺是否是從正統古典音樂訓練而來的「副作用」(Side effects)? 教正統音樂的老師常常要求我們要跟從書上的每一個細節. 從音準, 拍子, 大細聲到速度都追求完美無瑕. Middle C 就一定是彈那個對住琴牌子的那個, 兩個黑色左手邊的那個琴鍵. 這就是古典音樂的弊處. 看看中樂學習看簡譜犀利之處- 1 (Do) 可以是琴弦上任何的音, 你只要註明是什麼調子就行了.
人生就像音樂，你可以決定風格是如何，爵士? 藍調? 背景音樂? 一首歌? 流行曲? 世界民族?
可能我們的人生就根本是一首即興音樂, 我們沒有樂譜, 更不知道每一個樂章會何時有雙小節線的劃上. 這個即興音樂需要我們不斷地回應身邊不斷轉變的環境, 變幻莫測的人物和我們自己. 我們永遠都不能預知何時會有驚喜, 而這個即興人生內的每1秒的只會出現一次. 令我想起一段引文: “出來如花，又被割下，飛去如影，不能存留.” (約伯記14:2)
當這個音樂是如此變幻莫測, 可能這就是時候我們需要去想想, 是否不需要太執着于那種好像西方古典音樂的完美主義態度去仔細跟隨 ‘每一粒豆豉’, 因為這真的很不太現實了. 或許我們可以好像中國音樂的傳統只需要知道基本的音樂詞語但是可以靈活運用, 磨合和適應, 準備將自我風格因應環境而去去裝飾每一個音和旋律.
對, 這個即興人生真的是十分「驚」, 有見及此很多人會想要一個熟悉的框架, 好像一個交響樂樂章
第一樂章: 出世, 第二樂章: 結婚 , 第三樂章: 有小朋友, 第四樂章: 退休. 又或者好像另一個交響樂曲-第一樂章: 大學, 第二樂章: 買樓, 第三樂章: 退休及環遊世界.
我們對即興音樂的「驚」可能就是我們對即興人生一樣. 這又令我聯想一句在電影 ”重返地球”的一句: “Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist. That is near insanity. Do not misunderstand me danger is very real but fear is a choice.”
可能這是時候看看我們是否可以變成即興音樂人一樣, 去享受每一個樂器產生出來的聲音, 使用我們所擁用的技巧和知識去充實地活出每一個時刻, 將我們的個人風格放在每一個音和旋律上, 隨時準備去因應環境的改變和人的改變去轉變我們的人生音樂, 把握每一個機會去將我們的聲音去充滿我們即將面對的渺渺茫茫, 不明未知的領域.
Blog # 16: From Improvisational music to an improvisational Life.
Improvisational Music is an art, it’s definitely not merely random sounds produced on an instruments. It is a creative act that’s spontaneous, in-the-moment musical composition which allows the performer to express thoughts, feelings, mental state of mind as well as using all the accumulated musical knowledge and instrumental techniques, one also has to musically communicate and respond to the surrounding environment, people and other performer. The resulted music has a floating quality, it doesn’t have specific rules and patterns to follow, surprises appear and disappear in thin air again and again. Improvisational music is an immediate expression, the magic moment only appears once and vanish again. Only recording can retain its trace. But if we attempt to put the music onto the traditional music notation and play from that sheet music, this can no longer be considered as improvisational music.
I remember that fear I had on my first attempt to improvise. Fear of ‘not knowing how to play’, fear of ‘loosing face’, fear of ‘playing the wrong note’, fear of ‘somebody else plays better than me’, fear of the unknown.
I wonder if this fear is the side effects from our classical music training? Our traditional classical music teacher often forces us to follow every single minute details of the score, from the accuracy of pitch, rhythm, dynamics to the speed they demand a perfect performance that’s strictly ‘play-everything-as-written’ from us. The western classical music world demands the written middle C to be played exactly on that ‘button’ that’s right in the middle of the piano, right below the brand’s name, above the piano key hole, next to the 2 black keys. What you see on the music, is what you play. In comparison, look at Chinese music’s way of conveying musical notes in the number system. 1 is the solfege ‘do’ and it can be any note on the piano or any other instruments, you just need to specific the center of the piece/ the weight/the focus--the key.
Life is like music, you can start with an overall idea how you want it to sound like – Jazz? Blues? Ambient? A Song with Words? Pop? Rock? World Fusion? If one is ambitious enough, one can decide from the very beginning on how many movements and how many instruments are involved. You can also attempt to control the speed and loudness, as well as the specific chords and melody you want to use in each moment. But in reality, can we control all these elements? Can we really be our own life’s composer that we can first pre-write everything, planned everything in such meticulous details in advance and follow our own written score?
I guess not.
Perhaps our lives in reality are actually improvisations. We don’t actually have the score, let alone knowing when each movement will be treated with a double bar line. We play out this improvisation by responding immediately to our constantly changing environment, the transient dynamics of people around us as well as our constantly fluctuating selves. We can never predict when surprises come and go, every second of this improvisation of life only appears once. Reminds me of a quote -“We blossom like a flower and then wither. Like a passing shadow, we quickly disappear.” Job 14:2
When the piece is so unpredictable, perhaps we can consider to let go of our ‘western classical musician’s perfectionist attitude to follow everything note-by-note as it’s no longer realistic, but rather be like the Chinese musician tradition to know the basic vocabulary but ready to be flexible, adaptive, at times freely put your own personal touch to decorate each musical note and phrases.
Indeed, the improvisational life is scary, and that’s why people want a pre-set symphonic movements that are named (Movement I: Birth, Movement II: Getting Married, Movement III: Have Kids, Movement IV: Retired) or like another piece that goes (Movement I: University, Movement II: Become a CEO, Movement III: House, Movement IV: Retire & Travel Around the World).
Our fear for musical improvisation are possibly the same fear for our improvisation of life. Fear of the unknown. That reminds me of another quote from the movie ‘After Earth’- “Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist. That is near insanity. Do not misunderstand me danger is very real but fear is a choice.”
Can we attempt to be like an improvisational musician, to enjoy each note and sound that comes out of the instruments, using all the accumulated skills, knowledge and techniques to fully realize each moments, putting our personal touch on every musical note and phrase, seizing every opportunities to fill the unknown with our own voices, ready to adapt our music in response to the environment and the people around us?
Life is like a piece of improvised music.