A central goal of artistic research in music is to balance creativity with critical reflection during the creation of music. Through this, the artistic product is not only an art object. By chronicling the process of creating the work, the artist discovers opportunities to add knowledge about artistic practice, and how we, as humans, use art in our lives. For this reason, concise documentation of questions, decisions, and musical ideas is necessary throughout the entire creative process.
Untitled Project-Recognize Sexuality, Build Confidence, Cultivate Identity:
When John first approached me about this project, we found similarities in our early interactions with music. Practicing music (violin for John, saxophone and piano for myself) provided a sense of control and purpose in a world that didn’t seem to understand or accept us (or that we didn't seem to accept ourselves in). For this reason, I have decided to write a piece for John and myself that stems from improvisation in order to re-root ourselves in our early musical interactions. Together, we will discover emotionally compelling frameworks centered on our early experiences with music as we were beginning to engage with our sexualities as gay men. These frameworks will act as springboards that encourage our natural musical tendencies to flourish. Over time through careful transcription and reflection, these gestures will compound into a musical work.
Furthermore, we will audio record each improvisation and use these recordings as source material for a fixed electronic track to accompany John’s violin playing and my singing. This process of creating through improvisation is not only a vehicle through which to build the musical work. I feel it is analogous to how people recognize their identity, their sexuality, and their inner music. Throughout each of our lives, we dig deep inside, filter emotions through the communicative tools at our disposal, and build a background of sound to accompany our lives and help us build confidence. We cultivate identity within the spectrum of ideals and reality, between the pillars of improvisation and “composed” music, between electronic and acoustic sounds, and between ourselves and those around us. I see this musical work, and the process through which it will be created, as a direct reflection of recognizing sexuality, building confidence, and cultivating identity: coming out.
A large part of artistic research is to disseminate knowledge about artistic practice by generating critical questions that open self-reflection. So I will end with my questions:
In terms of a musical object, how will these improvised gestures compile into a logical and coherent structure?
Will the original impetus of these gestures translate into meaningful sound outside of the improvisational context? If not, what changed?
To what extent will improvisation get in the way of emotional expression given cultural stigmas revolving around improvised music?
In terms of collaboration, how will John and I find clarity through one another?
What type of collaboration will this become (in terms of Vera John-Steiner).
Will this work grow into something universal, or understood and felt by only a few people? Why is this the case?
Share any of your questions below! Thanks for reading. Stay tuned for more…