Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Collaborative Creation



Back in the day, I used to be a band geek.  Shocking, isn't it?  ;)  For hours each school day, I spent my time with the same group of people.  Jazz band first thing, then concert band, followed up with sectional practice and any sort of pep band activities in the evenings.   Often, I had many other classes with my fellow band geeks, and we circulated in a clump for most of the day apart from musical activities.

Band was central to my life in those days. It was how I survived high school with minimal damage. Particularly with the others in the jazz band, we were extended family.  An incestuous ball of teenage hormones running amok with brass, reed, and percussion.  Recently, I sold my beloved trumpet.  It was an emotionally charged decision, but I realized that I was never likely to take it up again.  Why?  I loved being in a band, and solo music holds little interest for me.

Similarly, in my relationships, the goal has never been to run my own agenda.  I seek collaboration, consensus, and shared creation of the composition that is the life we choose to lead in relation to each other.  While ripping a solo can be heady stuff, I am happiest as a strongly valued member of a group.

Poly gives me a forum to be a contributing member in the genesis of something that is more than I alone would be able to generate.   As more voices join the band, there are more subtleties, nuances, more depth of harmony and melody, and more opportunities for dissonance.  Being able to see, hear, and feel how my interactions are impacting others holds much more satisfaction for me than in charting my own path and hoping that others follow me.

Look around your world and notice your band members.  What are their strengths and weaknesses?  In what ways do you complement each other, or potentially generate conflict?  How can you offset it when one of you is having an off day, without ruining the music of your relationship?  What skills and perspectives can you learn from each other to strengthen the whole ensemble? Is this a week you want to work on a complex piece of music, or relax with a piece you can play in your sleep reliably?

Learning how to play well reliably together is something that takes time and repetition.  The tough sections are often flubbed repeatedly, and require significant practice to improve performance.  In the end, the quality of music produced is determined by time, talent, and a willingness to sometimes restrict personal performance to bring up the whole group.


Without awareness of my partners and metamours, it would be easy to be off-beat, or out of tune.  Only by focusing keenly on those I am choosing to "play" with, allowing each voice to have input, is an elegant, beautiful composition possible.



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