Stephan Nachmanovitch

Stephan
Nachmanovitch
1950

American Contemporary Musician, Author, Computer Artist and Educator

Author Quotes

Memory and intention (which postulate past and future) and intuition (which indicates the eternal present) are fused. The iron is always hot.

Structure ignites spontaneity. Limits yield intensity. When we play... by our self-chosen rules, we find that containment of strength amplifies strength.

The beauty of playing together is meeting in the One.

These inter-reflecting themes, the prerequisites of creation, are playfulness, love, concentration, practice, skill, using the power of limits, using the power of mistakes, risk, surrender, patience, courage, and trust. Creativity is a harmony of opposite tensions, as encapsulated in our opening idea of lila, or divine play.

We can depend on the world being a perpetual surprise in perpetual motion. And a perpetual invitation to create.

When people ask me how to improvise, only a little of what I can say is about music. The real story is about spontaneous expression, and it is therefore a spiritual and a psychological story rather than a story about the technique of one art form or another.

Working within the limits of the medium forces us to change our own limits. Improvisation is not breaking with forms and limitations just to be 'free,' but using them as the very means of transcending ourselves.

Commitment to a set of rules (a game) frees your play to attain a profundity and vigor otherwise impossible.

If form is mechanically applied, it may indeed result in work that is conventional, if not pedantic or stupid. But form used well can become the very vehicle of freedom, of discovering the creative surprises that liberate mind-at-play.

If we know that the inevitable setbacks and frustrations are phases of the natural cycle of creative processes, if we know that our obstacles can become our ornaments, we can persevere and bring our desires to fruition. Such perseverance can be a real test, but there are ways through, there are guideposts. And the struggle, which is guaranteed to take a lifetime, is worth it. It is a struggle that generates incredible pleasure and joy. Every attempt we make is imperfect; yet each one of those imperfect attempts is an occasion for a delight unlike anything else on Earth.

In improvisation, there is only one time. This is what computer people call real time. The time of inspiration, the time of technically structuring and realizing... the time of playing it, and the time of communicating with the audience, are all one.

Many musicians are fabulously skilled at playing the black dots on the printed page, but mystified by how the dots got there in the first place and apprehensive of playing without dots. Music theory does not help here; it teaches rules of the grammar, but not what to say.

Incredible pleasure and joy. Every attempt we make is imperfect; yet each one of those imperfect attempts is an occasion for a delight unlike anything else on earth.

Knowledge of the creative process cannot substitute for creativity, but it can save us from giving up on creativity when the challenges seem too intimidating and free play seems blocked. If we know that our inevitable setbacks and frustrations are phases of the natural cycle of creative processes, if we know that our obstacles can become our ornaments, we can persevere and bring our desires to fruition. Such perseverance can be a real test, but there are ways through, there are guideposts. And the struggle, which is guaranteed to take a lifetime, is worth it. It is a struggle that generates incredible...

Music represented symbolically is regarded as more acceptable than music which happens in real time as sound. We have fallen under the sway of a strange inversion in which symbols are regarded as more real than the realities they represent. Music (or art, literature, science, technology) is often treated as a collection of works arranged in a historical timeline. The scores are regarded as having not only an independent existence, but a higher existence than a performance.

Narrows, your sense of time stops. You feel alert and alive; effort becomes effortless. You lose yourself in your own voice, in the handling of your tools, in your feeling for the rules. Absorbed in

Our fears, doubts, and rigidities are manifested physiologically, as excessive muscular tension, or what Wilhelm Reich called “body armor.” If I “try” to play, I fail; if I force the play, I crush it; if I race, I trip. Any time I stiffen or brace myself against some error or problem, the very act of bracing would cause the problem to occur. The only road to strength is vulnerability.

Sometimes we think, If only I had a great instrument—a Stradivarius, a supercomputer with great graphics, a fine, perfectly equipped sculpture studio—I could do anything with it. But an artist can take the cheapest instrument and do anything with it as well.

Spiritual and emotional content are not to easy to evaluate.

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.

The professionalism of technique and flash of dexterity are more comfortable to be around than raw creative power, hence our society generally rewards virtuoso performers more highly than it rewards original creators.

There are no prescriptive solutions, no grand designs for grand problems. Life's solutions lie in the minute particulars involving more and more individual people daring to create their own life and art, daring to listen to the voice within their deepest, original nature, and deeper still, the voice within the earth.

You can't express inspiration without skill.

Creativity exists more in the searching than in the finding.

How does one learn improvisation? The only answer is to ask another question: What is stopping us? Spontaneous creation comes from our deepest being and is immaculately and originally ourselves. What we have to express is already with us, is us, so the work of creativity is not a matter of making the material come, but of unblocking the obstacles to its natural flow.

Author Picture
First Name
Stephan
Last Name
Nachmanovitch
Birth Date
1950
Bio

American Contemporary Musician, Author, Computer Artist and Educator