Thursday, April 20, 2006

Quiescence Music: Lessons in Improvising New Age Piano

While I'm on the subject of resources that provide excellent starting points for improvisation, here's another one. If you play the piano, or want to play the piano, and like New Age music, Edward Weiss's Quiescene Music site is a great resource. Edward does an excellent job of providing chord structures, which he describes in a way that does not require previous piano experience or the ability to read music, that provide a framework or starting point for improvisation.

The bulk of Edward's lessons are in a pay site, but the cost of a subscription to the site is fairly low. And he provides a number of free resources, including a blog, a Yahoo discussion group, and a goodly amount of articles.

I'm especially fond of his articles. Sure, they all plug his site, but many also contain pearls of wisdom which apply to improvisation in any idiom. In "Piano Improvisation Tips - Enjoy the Process First" he puts his finger on an absolutely key issue:
The right approach is to let go of your need to control the outcome. Then and only then will your intuition come to your aid.

Listen, you may want to create something beautiful on the piano, but it is exactly your desire that is creating blocks! How? Because the ego is never satisfied and wants a perfect music, a good music, or something that will satisfy it. The ego is insatiable and is never satisfied.

No matter what your preferred styles of music, how can you not just love a guy who puts into words so well what so many of us experience:
When I'm in the moment, letting the music speak, it's like the world is new again.

The notes flow out of the piano into the air and I know that something magical is taking place. It may last a minute or a half-hour. No matter how long it lasts, I know that I've been transported to a special place. Many musicians know of this place - especially musicians who know how to improvise. There is no planning - only spontaneous invention.

That's from his article, "Zen and the Art of New Age Piano." Edward's writings often deal with the Zen-like aspects of improvisation.

There are many people, I know, who don't care for "New Age" piano music. That's fine--none of us can be in love with every style of music. But Edward's writings are well worth exploring regardless, because he captures so succinctly many of the attitudinal keys to improvisation.

And New Age music, at least some of it, especially (in my experience) that done on acoustic instruments, is often a good example of how much music can be made with simple material, and the use of repetition and subtle variation.

So, dear readers, even if you don't care for New Age music, check out Edward's writings. And if you want to learn to improvise in a chord-based, New-Age style, Edward's lessons are a great resource, and well worth the small subscription fee.

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