What is hearing?
What is listening?
The ear in consciousness can make possible the difference between hearing and listening.
Developing the external and internal ear, and discerning these two notions, opens doors to many understandings, capacities, perceptions, sensations, impressions.
Let's stay in the field of music, and improvisation.
How do I place myself when I play, improvise, accompany?
Is the sound of my instrument really what I hear?
Here is an exercise to work and develop this awareness, to listen, to develop one's inner song, to understand what happens when one improvises or when one plays a written melody.
The ideal is to have a notebook and note everything that happens or has happened during work on listening, this notebook is personal, put it next to you during the work session.
Note everything that goes through your head, if you are very concentrated, or on the contrary disturbed, agitated or calm, why do you perceive sounds outside and sometimes not, ... noted everything at any time ... this will allow you to see the evolution of your inner and outer ear, to understand the different phases of concentration, when you listen, or you hear, and to get closer to what is your music.
I will speak later about the various phases of listening: precise, global, unconscious etc...
And to be able to use it as well as possible, by "remembering oneself". For this exercise, you need a place where you can be quiet (but it is also possible to do it with the ambient sound, outside noise etc. ...)
You need: your instrument, and a Drone or tampura
The Drone and tampura, are instruments that will maintain a drone.
There are several possibilities to make a drone, a Synthé, a piano with resonance, someone who sings, app created for that etc...everything that allows to have a long sound, that does not move, and with harmonics.
We are going to do this exercise on the Lydian Scale of D.
The Lydian scale is a stack of just fifths, which gives it a stability and plunges us into the tonal verticality demonstrated by George Russell: Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organisation, I will talk more precisely in another post.
Count on a working session of 30mn, the separations are times where we can let ourselves think, note, scribble, draw, what we want, what we feel or not.
It takes a little time to get into condition.
Sitting on a chair, feet flat, stable, spine straight, shoulders and neck relaxed
Standing with your feet firmly planted on the ground, be careful not to lock your knees, shoulders and neck relaxed.
Or if you are used to it, in lotus, half-lotus, zazen .
Breathing and Listening to the Sound of Breathing
Breathe and hear the sound of your breath
Start the Drone or tampura (video below)
Can you sing this sound?
Can you hear it?
Can you listen to it?
Can you separate it from what you are listening to?
Can you listen to it and separate it from what you hear?
Do you hear-listen only to this sound?
take your violin, your instrument
Before playing, do you hear the sound of your violin?
What do you want to add to the sound you hear, that you listen to?
While breathing, play the fundamental of the Drone
Do the sounds mix ?
take a moment to breathe and take advantage of it to balance yourself, to stabilize yourself, to relax your shoulders, your neck, to open the solar plexus etc...
two axes of concentration open up, it's up to you to choose what you find most interesting at that moment:
1: Concentration on the sound, the bow, the left hand, the vibrato etc...
2: Concentration on each note and the link between them, and with the drone
Choice 1: each movement must be done consciously to produce the desired sound, to breathe, to relax the shoulders, to control the bow, the vibrato etc...
Choice 2: use the "glissando" technique, play each note on one finger (first the first, then any finger), slide from one note to another, stopping when the note seems to be the most in line with the sound you hear.
Silence and listening
the time it takes
Improvise freely on the Lydian mode, on one string, all the strings, in pizz, quickly, slowly ... you have all the possibilities ...
At the end of the session, take the time to write down or think about what you played, what you noticed, which notes you liked best etc. ....
Why not record? or write down the melody you found?
This exercise is freely inspired by the work of Pauline Oliveros, creator of