Sunday, November 04, 2007

The Darling Conversations

Shortly after I began improvising on my own, I discovered the recordings of David Darling. The simple yet beautiful solo improvisations on his Tao of Cello album were important and empowering to me: an improvisation based on a simple idea, not harmonically complex, not highly developed, could be beautiful and worthwhile and enjoyable to listen to, and "good enough" to be released by a label. Many of David's other CDs, especially his multitrack recordings (mostly on the ECM label) are much more "sophisticated." For years, though, it was the simple solo cello on that Tao of Cello album that I most enjoyed, of all his work.

Shortly after discovering David, I discovered Music for People, the organization promoting self-expressive improvisation that promotes a holistic, humanistic, approach to making music. David remains the artistic director; others have done the organizing and documentation, and thousands of lives have been changed. While I was perfectly comfortable doing solo improvisations by the time I attended my first MfP workshop, I was terribly afraid I wouldn't be able to improvise with others.

Music for People was a revelation; it has had as much impact on me as any other experience I've had in my life. I think it's accurate to say that my most powerful musical, spiritual, and personal growth as an adult has come from my participation in Music for People.

An advance copy of The Darling Conversations, a new 3-CD set of David discussing the Music for People philosophy with Julie Weber, the chair of the MfP Musicianship and leadership program, has been made available to me. Along with what I find to be genuinely profound insights into the relationship between human beings and their creativity, there are numerous musical examples, all recorded live during workshops or in casual recording sessions at workshops. (At least one is me.) The music is beautiful and touching and most of it is exquisitely recorded.

Listening to these recordings has been like attending a MfP workshop. I've been reminded of so much of the core, loving, empowering, embracing philosophy, as well as how that approach is manifested in many of the powerfully simple starting points and musical games David ad others in the MfP community have developed.

I can't recommend it highly enough. I'm having DePauw's music library order it, and I'm going to order a few sets, anyway, for holiday gifts. I'm also using it with my improvisation students, and will write more about that later.

Anyone who is interested in Music for People, in improvisation as a path of healing, and in ways to begin or enhance your own original music making, would do well to order this set. Download the sample tracks; I think you may find yourself as excited as am I.

1 comment:

Mike Lunapiena said...


I got into David Darling b/c of your blog... I've only bought his cello blue cd due to money constraints & having way too much music I'd like to explore; but I just wanted to say thanks!