April 10, 2009
Much of the time, in most circumstances, I close my eyes when I play and perform music. The removal of the visual gives a focus on the aural. It gives a kind of permission that pulls me in to a comfortable place where I can be, do and act. A familiar kind of sonic plasma feeds and guides my senses and responses and slows down time. Closing my eyes helps me to experience synchronicity with this place quickly and directly. Sometimes, in some situations, visual cues are necessary ... and I have become more adept at remaining immersed and in tune with aural plasma while also having my eyes open. In these cases I find my eyes might close for 'power on' moments to keep the umbilical cord connection to the deeply aural. My fingers, hands, arms, breath, movements, vocal chords ... and whatever instrument, object that I am resonating ... all of this together is a sonic extension of my blind connection to the plasma of that aural world.
This aural world is one I am intimate with and feel at home in. It gives me access to a multi-faceted attention state that is encompassing, global, temporal, detailed, energizing, hi-fi. Those of us who have had the pleasure of working in aural tradition over a lifetime are perhaps less visually oriented than others. Perhaps our sense of the temporal has different nuances. I am not sure about this. Maybe it is one way to think about it for now.
I have been thinking about the many aural traditions of music-making and their possible relationship to what we are doing in the visually focused world of Second Life.
After playing in Second Life for about 16 months, I could manage sometimes to get to that deep aural plasma ... moments when my virtual sonic responses were relatively in sync with the shifted temporal space that I can experience in good moments of playing in a non-virtual situation. It's a narrower world for me yet, but perhaps that is a judgment to think about.
With virtual instruments such that the Avatar Orchestra uses, we performers of sound mostly use the mouse to click on specific control areas on our computer screens to determine the sounds we are making in real time. Just the mouse held in one hand, moving the cursor over screen areas. The other hand operates at times the arrow buttons to move the avatar to disperse the sound in the space.
Sometimes I can close my eyes for very brief moments, but closing my eyes seems counter-intuitive to being present in this virtual reality world ... maybe. I realize I am searching for that aural comfort zone, and that I will have to allow it to stretch its definition, find a new neural pathway in my brain so it can connect with what is present in this virtual world.
I am not yet getting a sense of a distinct feel for the physical connection to each sound I make, or to the distinct sounds that others make, like I can experience with instruments and other players in non-virtual situations.
I still need to keep my eyes open to play the virtual instrument controls on my screen, to move my avatar to distribute the sound within the virtual environment, and to keep my avatar from falling off a platform, or colliding with another performer or object. But if it is possible to become familiar enough with the homogeneous keys of a piano or accordion, I think there might be just a bigger shift needed to mind-map a way to find a link between the mind, the computer screen in such a way that I can find that encompassing, temporally altered acoustic plasma space, only in an audio-visual sense - perhaps with developing interfaces not unlike a more sophisticated Wii.
Mind stretching in tendrils out past blood, bone, muscle skin to other worlds in sound. Ha.