Podcast alert!

It´s definitely not every day that one gets to be on iTunes!!

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This is the podcast of the founder of Timani, Tina Margareta Nilssen, about embodied musicianship and explorations into the vast landscape of music, mind and body.

I was very honored to be interviewed about my experiences with exploring musical expression faced with the experience of growing up with a body that didn´t (and sometimes doesn´t) seem to have quite the same agenda as the ego, and how the need for artistic expression sometimes can seem to overwhelm our own body and challenge the limits of expression we think we can allow ourself.

Episode 4: Resistance and Wisdom. Podcast

Miriam Hlavaty is a composer, pianist, Timani teacher and a listening expert. She went through her studies at the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo with chronic tendinitis, yet a deep wish to express music. Now at the age of 40, her journey has left her with tons of wisdom that I would have loved to hear as a student myself. She is now an expert of the body and playing music. She writes a blog, gives workshops and lectures to help musicians all around the world to change their physical coordination to prepare them for playing music in a healthy way.

Proprioception – the physiological reality behind a “natural” technique

It is said that a concert pianist has fine motor-control skills with a degree of coordination which exceeds that of a brain surgeon during operations. To perform of piece of music which demands that each finger, each joint of that finger and each muscle in the hand, arm and body cooperates and contributes to the end result and that this end result is experienced as harmoniously, melodically and rhythmically complete is really somewhat of a physiological and neurological miracle.

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Perhaps the reason why most of us still don’t reflect on this when great art is presented to us is because one of the hallmarks of great art is that it is perceived as “effortless”. We sense the coordination, the seamless conversations within the body of the practitioner, how everything just seems to “flow”, yet a part of our mind is aware of the enormous amount of coordination happening and realises that there is no way we can consciously control all of these minuite operations.

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Photo by Varshesh Joshi on Unsplash

It is like the joke about the centipede who one day suddenly started pondering which leg to move first and from then on were unable to move ever again. Our brain grasps that there must be some sort of overall awareness coordinating everything so that it just happens “naturally”.

“Naturally” is, however, a nice fluffy term for something which we instinctively recognise without really understanding what it is or how it works. Musicians are very often taught to be looking for a “natural technique” although much of this training  tends to focus more on how it is supposed to feel, us supposed to what needs to happen for it to feel like this; to get to the place where everything “clicks”, where the audience as well as we ourselves experience what is happening as “effortless”.

But what is the physiological reality behind the term “natural technique”?

Proprioception – Our unknown sense

Most of us are unaware of how many of our seemingly ordinary daily activities which really are similar miracles, both neurologically and physiologically. Our very ability to move at all is based on a complex cooperation between our brain, our nervous system and our muscles; a cooperation which enables us to do anything from tying our shoelaces to playing a piano concert, and of which most of us are totally oblivious to.

There are, however, some situations in which most people become aware of the degree of magic happening inside their body and it is usually, ironically, when things start to not work as they should.

Proprioception is the name of the sense which makes our brain aware of where each part of our body is located in space at any given time. This enables our brain to send coordinated signals in the form of motor programs to different parts of our body which then enables us to perform everyday movements. Some of these motor programs start to form from the moment we are born, such as when we learn how to crawl, turn over or walk.

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Photo by Hamza El-Falah on Unsplash

These programs are so embedded in us that we don’t pay them any attention, which is, from the brain’s perspective, the whole idea: if we needed to consciously be aware of every detail of a motor program we would spend far too much energy on performing it. Therefore it is almost impossible for us to recognize the amount of coordination happening behind the smallest of our activities.

The best way to understand how our proprioception actually functions is perhaps to show what life is like for someone who has to live without it.

The man who lost his body

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19-year-old Ian Waterman at first thought he had caught merely a common cold or virus infection. The sturdy young man was working as an apprentice in a butcher shop and was used to hard labour and physically demanding work. He had previously gotten a small cut in his finger and most likely the cut had developed into an infection. What started out as a common cold would prove to be something much worse. As the doctors in vain tried to understand what was happening Ian gradually lost control over his limbs and ended up lying in bed without conscious control over any part of his body from his neck down.

What confused his doctors and neurologists was that the condition didn’t read like a normal paralysis: Ian wasn’t paralysed, his muscles still worked and his brain was receiving signals from his body conveying sensations such as pain and differences in temperature. But the brain seemed to have lost the notion of where the different parts that it was supposed to move were located. The medical sentence was harsh: a life in a wheelchair.

Nerve issues

Ian’s condition is an efficient reminder of how complex and specialized our nervous system is. We often think of a nerve in the same way that we think of some sort of electric cable conveying a signal between body and brain. The reality is much more complex.

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If you cut through a nerve and look at the cross-section you will see that the nerve includes several smaller parts, nerve fascicle’s. Inside of these fascicle’s we find individual nerve fibres.

A nerve fibre can be either a sensory fibre or motor fibre. The motor fibres sends signals to our muscle fibres telling them to contract. The sensory fibres starts either in the skin or in the muscle and come in different sizes. The largest ones convey information concerning touch, muscle sensitivity or sense of movement, while the smallest ones convey information concerning muscle fatigue, temperature and certain forms of pain.

In Ian’s case the motor fibres were intact but the large sensory fibres (and with them also the access to very specific functions of the nervous system) were damaged, probably as a result of the infection. These nerve fibres were responsible for receiving all of the sensory information that had to do with the positioning of Ian’s joints and the activity in his muscles. They were also responsible for conveying all of this information onward to his brain.

The condition, which can occur in different degrees, were eventually given the name sensory neuropathy, damaged sensory nerves.

A body completely governed by willpower

Ian had one advantage in his extreme situation: he was still young when he became ill. After the initial shock and despair at the prospect of a life in a wheelchair the young Englishman decided that he would not settle for the doctor’s prognosis. Even though the original neurological connection between brain and body were severed, might it not be possible to build another one? Since the nerves which should have provided Ian’s brain with the information necessary to move his body were destroyed it was necessary to create a new connection between brain and body. The answer, at least half of it, lay in visualisation.Brain

Ian discovered, after a painful period of hard mental work, that if he had a very concrete picture in his mind of which movement to perform and then used his eyes as control and feedback channel to tell his brain where the parts it were supposed to move were located, he was able, after years of gruelling discipline and training, to slowly re-gain control over his body.

What Ian was actually doing is something that all of us has experienced partly each time we learn and train a new motor program. When we learn to move as children we first go through an initial phase of large, unrefined movements which then gradually become more and more refined and coordinated and then eventually transformed into automatic patterns -motor programs. In this way we don’t have to think of every little detail involved in the movement and can have our mind elsewhere while bicycling, walking, skiing or performing any other movement pattern.

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Photo by Andre Hunter on Unsplash

But the fact that we are not aware of the coordination happening when buttoning a button doesn’t mean that our body isn’t executing it. One of the prerequisites for such motor programs to work is that your brain knows where the parts which are supposed to contribute in the coordination are located. It needs to have a point of reference from which to work. Without this knowledge the brain is in the dark so do speak: it’s not easy to move something when you can’t locate it.

In Ian’s case it was as if every motor program that he had ever learned were suddenly cancelled out; and every coordination from that moment on until his death had to be done 100% consciously.

Do you have a personal problem with gravity?

The automatic motor programs which most of us uses every day are also based on a subconscious understanding of certain physical laws, such as gravity and how it affects our bodies. We all make use of this subconscious understanding every day, for instance each time we are lifting something up. A short example: the size of your base, if you’re standing broad legged or with your feet together, decides whether you’re going to tip over or not when extending something heavy out from your body.

Here is a visual example of what happens if you don’t take this fact into account.

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Ian´s body, who is bereft of his automatic motor programs, and therefore also from this subconscious knowledge, needs to be constantly aware of these physical laws: each time he is picking something up he needs to calculate how much the weight of the object will affect the balance in the rest of his body and then consciously adjust the angle of his arms and legs and the degree of tension in the muscles of his arms and legs based on this knowledge. Picking up a mango or lifting a chair demands different degrees of tension.

Most of us are rarely aware of the physical laws surrounding and affecting us each day. It is no accident that “biomechanics” is still a relatively unfamiliar term for most people. The knowledge of how biological material (what your body is made of) is affected by physical laws (gravity for instance) is not something we go around and ponder. Yet we all live under these laws, we just happen to be so lucky as not to need to relate to them except on those occasions where our proprioception is a tad weaker than usual, for instance when we have been drinking or early in the morning when we have just got out of bed and seem to constantly bump into our doorframes.

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Photo by Michael Discenza on Unsplash

For someone like Ian who is cut off from his proprioception the relationship with gravity becomes very close indeed. For one thing his ability to move is completely dependent on his eyes and his visual faculties: as long as he can use his eyes to give his brain feedback on where his body is located Ian is able to control his body in a way that (for now) is unique in all of the world. However, if this feedback channel disappears, for instance if the light is switched off in the room, he immediately loses every control of his body and collapses like a rag doll, – the result of the brain’s lack of ability to adjust the body according to gravity.

Brain in search of body

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Photo by Cengizhan Konuş on Unsplash

When we see small babies moving slowly and seemingly uncoordinated we are actually witnessing a meticulous training of coordination and motor patterns which will later on become the foundation for every movement during a long life. Although we might find such intense concentration when reaching for a toy as “cute” what is actually happening should rather trigger our admiration: brain scans of Ian’s brain when he is performing his conscious coordinated movements shows activity in parts of the brain that are usually used only in activities demanding the most sophisticated form of intense concentration, activities such as juggling with multiple balls.

It goes without saying that this activity demands much more energy than movements which have been transformed into automatic motor programs.

There is also another price Ian is constantly paying which those of us with an active proprioception don’t need to worry about. Our brain is dependent on its contact with the body. When this contact is missing or decreased the brain instinctively senses this as a threat. A consequence of Ian’s condition is therefore that his nervous system is in a constant state of tension, where the feedback that his eyes provide is the only thing staving off the panic.

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Just think about the sensation of missing a step when walking down the stair or stepping off a ledge that you didn’t expect was there, and where your body suddenly flops down. The sudden jolt we experience when the expected contact with the ground disappears for a second is actually your brain shouting for feedback from the body, – feedback which didn’t come as expected and which, in Ian’s case, will never come. Imaging having that shouting as a continuous companion in your life..

Embodied living

Ian’s example shows us how much of our life and our activities which are based on movement patterns. Most of us take these patterns for granted and are even mostly unaware of them happening at all. Only in situations when we are witnessing these patterns at their utmost, might it suddenly dawn on us the immense complexity and possibilities stored in our incredible bodies. For instance in a concert, when a performer makes something incredibly complex appear as effortless.

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Neurologically speaking, for something to be without effort does not mean that there is no effort involved but rather that we are witnessing something functioning at its utmost. And maybe that is exactly what holds our fascination: we are reminded of the endless possibilities and miracles residing inside these amazing structures which we choose to call our “bodies”.

Hopefully this experience might eventually make us treat our bodies with the attention and reverence they deserve, both during living and during playing, but more on that in a later blog.

If you want to know more check out the BBC Horizon documentary “The Man Who Lost His Body” which tells the whole story of Ian Waterman.

 

 

Bevegelse som næringsstoff. Er du en ubevisst kroppsbruker?

I den norske humorserien “Spøkelyset” som gikk på NRK på 1980-tallet belyste komikertrioen KLM (Trond Kirkvaag, Knut Lystad og Lars Mjøen) aktuelle samfunnsfenomener og hadde blant annet en hysterisk sketsj hvor de introduserte begrepet “totaltrim”.

Formålet med totaltrinn var å trene muskler som lå brakk hos de fleste pga lite bruk (de såkalte “brakk-musklene”- vist på en egen anatomiplansje) og måten dette ble gjort på var å legge inn mer bevegelse i hverdagen gjennom å gjøre hverdagslige aktiviteter på nye (og som regel mer kompliserte) måter. Eksemplene på totaltrim rommet alt fra alternative måter å komme seg inn i bilen på, KLM´s egen versjon av “silly walks” (hvordan variere gangmønsteret) til fantasifulle måter å dekke bordet, knyte slipset og hilse på når man treftes på gaten.

Sketsjen er ubetalelig og lydsporet alene er verdt en reprise. Temaet har imidlertid, som all god humor, et element av sannhet i seg, for ikke å snakke om et snev av profeti. I dagens samfunn har vi outsourcet bevegelser fra store deler av dagliglivet vårt og erstattet det med stillesittende arbeid som består av forenklede og repeterende bevegelser. Dette kombineres gjerne med korte, intense perioder med trening som, for mange, er synonymt med “bevegelse”. Fordi vi gjerne måler effekten av trening i form av antall timer trent vil mange oss, når det snakkes om at vi trenger å bevege oss mer, tenke på hvordan vi skal klare å dytte enda en time trening inn i en allerede overfylt timeplan.

Men bevegelse kan også forstås på en annen måte.

Bevegelse – makronæringsstoffer for kroppen

Den amerikanske biomekanikeren Katy Bowman er grunnleggeren av Nutritious Movement, et omfattende bevegelsessystem for hele kroppen. Gjennom navnet og begrepet Nutritious Movement bruker Bowman næringsstoffer (nutrients) for å tydeliggjøre hvorfor vi trenger å endre og utvide vår forståelse av begrepet “bevegelse”.

Bilderesultat for movements matters bowman

Kroppen vår trenger et vidt spekter av ulike næringsstoffer i form av vitaminer, mineraler, sporstoffer, væsker m.m. Hvert og ett av disse næringsstoffene er viktige men uansett hvor viktige de er kan de ikke erstatte hverandre. Variasjon er nødvendig for å opprettholde vitale funksjoner og få dekket alle kroppens behov. Å ta enorme doser c-vitamin vil ikke hjelpe deg hvis du har kalsium mangel.

Resultatet av en ubalanse i tilførselen blir til syvende og sist mangelsykdommer.

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Bevegelse er en biologisk forutsetning ikke bare for god helse men også for å kunne opprettholde basale og livsviktige funksjoner i kroppen. Hvis vitaminer, sporstoffer og mineraler utgjør mikronæringsstoffene vi trenger for å drive alle prosessene i kroppen vår kan bevegelse sees på som et makronæringsstoff av like stor viktighet. Og da snakker vi om en mye mer differensiert betydning av ordet “bevegelse”.

Bevegelse trigger aktivitet i cellene

Det engelske begrepet “use it or lose it” gjelder for en mye større andel av kroppen vår enn de fleste er klar over, også de delene vi ikke kan se. Mekanotransduksjon er det som skjer når cellene i kroppen vår reagerer og responderer på mekanisk belastning (som trykk, strekk osv). Enhver bevegelse vi gjør, både indre og ytre fører til ulike belastninger og vil bidra til at cellene våre, via mekanotransduksjon, responderer på ulike måter, en av dem er ved å produsere ulike substanser, som feks benvev. Dette skjer imidlertid kun i de områdene som belastes. Bevegelsen i ribbena dine under en full innpust-utpust påvirker cellene i dette området og sikrer fortsatt produksjon av benvev i ribbena dine. Alt som hindrer fri bevegelse her fratar tilsvarende cellene her fra belastningen de trenger for å opprettholde denne produksjonen på et optimalt nivå.

Bilderesultat for mechanotransduction

Det miljøet som cellene våre lever i er også avhengig av bevegelse da uttransportering av avfalsstoffer og tilførsel av næringsstoffer begge er prosesser som i stor grad drives av, nettopp, mekanisk bevegelse. Det er ikke tilfeldig at de store ansamlingene av lymfeknuter befinner seg i nettopp de områdene som bør ha størst bevegelse når vi går – i lysken, armhulene og knehasene.

Når det gjelder både mekanotransduksjon og andre bevegelses-drevne prosesser i kroppen har kvaliteten på bevegelsen alt å si.

Hvis vi skal ta næringsstoff-lignelsen opp igjen kan vi si at vi trenger et differensiert og bevisst “kosthold” av bevegelse med mye variasjon for at kroppen vår skal få det den trenger for å holde seg frisk og funksjonell.

Bevegelse – ikke hvor mye men hvordan

 

Det kravet til bevegelse som stilles for å leve i et moderne samfunn i dag er betydelig lavere og mindre differensiert enn vår kropps faktiske, biologiske behov for bevegelse. I tillegg til arbeidsplasser som i stor grad kun krever repetitive og begrensede bevegelser er samfunnet vi lever i også i stor grad tilrettelagt på måter som presser oss inn i visse gjentatte statiske positurer.

Et eksempel: i løpet av en dag er vi innom svært mange situasjoner hvor vi sitter: ved frokostbordet, på buss/trikk/tog/i bilen på vei til jobb, ved kontorpulten eller arbeidsbordet, ved spisebordet i lunsjpausen, på buss/trikk/tog/i bilen hjem, evt på benken i parken, på treningsmaskinen i treningsstudioet, ved middagsbordet og i sofaen foran TV´en eller dataskjermen hjemme når vi endelig kan slappe av.

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Photo by Mitchell Ng Liang an on Unsplash

Imidlertid er ikke problemet at vi sitter, problemet er snarere at vi gjerne sitter på en bestemt og repeterende måte, ofte bestemt av hva slags sitteunderlag/stol som er tilgjengelig. I løpet av de siste årene har heve-og -senke kontorpulter gjort sitt inntog på mange arbeidsplasser, gjerne nettopp fordi vi har fått høre at konstant sitting ikke er bra for kroppen. Dermed har vi erstattet konstant sitting med konstant ståing og isteden fått problemer med smerter i ryggen og bena, verkende føtter mm. Men er det “sitting” og “ståing” som er problemet her?

Eller burde vi snarere se litt mer på “konstant”-elementet?

Bevegelse, i et større perspektiv, dreier seg ikke om å finne “riktig positur”, “riktig stol” eller “riktig arbeidsstilling”. Det dreier seg om å oppdage at de fleste av oss, i løpet av en vanlig dag, benytter et svært begrenset bevegelsesrepertoar, noe som fører til at flere av oss lider av bevegelses-mangel på et grunnleggende celle-nivå.  Som med et ensidig kosthold: det er fullt mulig å overleve på det men etter hvert vil det dukke opp mangelsykdommer.

Biomekanikk – å knytte konsekvens til årsak i kroppen

Det er imidlertid ikke alltid opplagt for oss at det vi opplever av fysisk ubehag er et resultat av bevegelses- underernæring.

Vi lever i et samfunn som til en stor grad oppmuntrer oss til å splitte kropp og sinn og resultatet er en generell nedsatt sensitivitet når det kommer til å kunne sanse kroppen vår og dermed også de signalene den sender oss. Når disse signalene blir høylytte nok har vi også utviklet andre “fortolkningsmetoder” for å forstå dem. At noe er “genetisk”, “psykologisk” eller “bare er sånn” er argumenter som benyttes overraskende mange ganger, også av trent helsepersonell, til å begrunne alt fra diffuse ubehag, skjelletære feilstillinger, indre mentalt klima eller kroniske smertetilstander.

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Photo by Chris Barbalis on Unsplash

Det finnes allikevel andre måter å forstå forholdet mellom årsak og konsekvens i kroppen: Kroppen vår er, som alle andre biologiske organismer, underlagt biomekaniske prinsipper som gjør det mulig å forutsi konsekvensene av å benytte den på ulikt vis, og dermed også konsekvensene av gjentatte bevegelsesmønstre.

Biomekanikk er vitenskapen om hvordan mekaniske lover påvirker levende strukturer og biologisk materiale, med andre ord: det som kroppen vår er laget av. Den kan dermed brukes som et kart for, til en viss grad, å si noe om hva som er sannsynlige konsekvenser av visse måter å bruke/ikke bruke kroppen på. Spesielt hvis disse måtene fortsetter over lang tid.

For å forstå at plager og ubehag kan være forbundet med måten vi bruker kroppen på må vi gå fra å definere “bevegelse” som “trening” til heller å definere det som noe slikt som “aktivitet livsviktig for opprettholdelsen av basale biologiske og fysiologiske funksjoner i alle deler av organismen”

De aller fleste av oss har fått med oss at “bevegelse er sunt”. Men hvis vi er vante med å forbinde “bevegelse” med “trening” er det lett å tenke at så lenge vi jogger en time hver dag har vi fått “dosen” som er nødvendig (vi kan til og med regne oss som over gjennomsnittet siden vi klarer såpass).

Hva vi gjør med kroppen i alle de resterende timene av døgnet vil imidlertid ha en større innvirkning på kroppen vår og i dette tilfellet trumfer kvantiteten: hvis du trener 1 time hver dag har du 14 timer hvor du gjør noe annet enn å trene og det er dette “andre” og kvaliteten av det, som ofte utgjør den største biomekaniske påvirkningen på kroppen din.

Relatert bilde

Måten vi beveger oss på i de 14 timene hvor vi ikke trener kan imidlertid ofte være et ganske stort blindpunkt for mange av oss og kan også være bestemt av mange ulike faktorer.

Det ligger dype kulturelle, sosiale og ikke minst psykologiske årsaker til grunn for måten vi benytter kroppen vår på. Noen av disse er også avgjørende for hvor lett det vil være for oss å endre våre bevegelsesrutiner.

Kroppsbruk = identitet

Vi mennesker kommuniserer på en mengde ulike plan hvorav språket vi skaper med munnen kun er en liten del. I tillegg kommer det omfattende, rike og, for en stor del, ubevisste kroppsspråket vårt. Måten vi står, går og sitter på kan være påvirket av en blanding av tillærte bevegelsesmønstre og kulturelle og sosiale koder.

Kroppsspråket vårt er avgjørende for hvordan omverdenen vår oppfatter oss og derfor vil dét å endre måten du beveger deg på også endre det bilde av deg selv som du deler med omverdenen. Er du den “selvsikre”(ribbeskyv, vekten på det ene benet)? Den som “ordner opp og er til å stole på” (ribbeskyv, skuldre trukket bakover)? Den som “ikke tar ting så høytidelig” (kollaps i ryggsøylen, henge på bekkenet, hyperkyphose)? Den som “ikke ønsker trøbbel” (inntilbens, hyperkyphose, innadroterte overarmer)? Den som ikke “utgjør noen fare for noen” (det samme)? Den “anstendige” (bena alltid krysset i sittende stilling)? Den “empatiske” (fremmadskutt hode og hyperekstensjon i nakke)? Den “uinteresserte” eller “kule”? (henge på bekkenet, hyperkyphose, en positur som vi forøvrig finner igjen blant utstillingsdukkene i de fleste butikkvinduer).

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Photo by Bhargav sai v on Unsplash

Dette er selvførlgelig satt på spissen men poenget er at alle disse “typene” har sine tilhørende positur-koder, noen av dem kulturelt betinget andre mer eller mindre universelle, men alle vil ha ulike effekter på kroppen din, spesielt hvis de er del av et fast daglig bevegelsesrepertoar.

Vår individuelle ubevisste oppfattelse av verden og virkeligheten spiller også inn på hvordan vi beveger oss. Som et vandrende kartotek går vi alle rundt i kropper formet av alle tidligere erfaringer og opplevelser og de oppfattelsene av virkeligheten som disse opplevelsene har dannet i oss,  på godt og vondt.

Er verden et generelt trygt eller utrygt sted å være? Din personlige opplevelse av dette vil forme måten du uttrykker deg selv på gjennom kroppen din, bevisst så vel som ubevisst.

Kroppsbruk = assosiasjoner

Hvordan du ubevisst tillater deg selv å bevege deg er også et resultat av hvilke assosiasjoner ulike stillinger og bevegelser vekker i oss.

God mobilitet i hofteleddet er avgjørende for svært mange fysiologiske prosesser i kroppen. En av de beste forutsetningene for å sikre seg å bevare eller utvikle denne mobiliteten er å oftere variere sittestillingen og også benytte sittestillinger hvor du sitter på huk. Ville du ha motforestillinger mot å sette deg på huk på gulvet selv om det var en stol ledig? Eller å sitte på kne eller med bena i kors på kontorstolen?

Vi forbinder gjerne ulike typer kroppsbruk med bestemte assosiasjoner og avhengig av om de er positive eller negative vil vi være mer eller mindre åpne for å benytte dem selv. Hvis du forbinder dét å sitte på huk med å gå på do (fra ungdomsskolens teltturer) vil du ha flere motforestillinger mot å “squatte” offentlig enn hvis du er vant til å reise rundt i asia hvor dette er en vanlig sittestilling.

Hvis dét å sitte med bena i kors er noe som fremkaller tanken på ashramer, chanting og løse gevanter er du kanskje ikke fristet til å gjøre det i styremøtet på jobben?

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Photo by Ashes Sitoula on Unsplash

Dét å muliggjøre nye måter å sitte/stå/gå og bevege oss på  krever ofte at vi kanskje må gjøre andre endringer i hverdagen vår. Tillater klærne du går med at du beveger deg fritt eller sitter på nye måter? Er identiteten din så tett knyttet til bestemte antrekk at det å endre det ikke er noe alternativ? Hvordan påvirker møblene hjemme og på arbeidsplassen måten du bruker kroppen på og er miljøene rundt deg forståelsesfulle for eventuelle endringer du måtte ønske?

Å endre måten vi bruker kroppen på utfordrer altså ofte mer enn bare den fysiske kroppen.

Endringer er i tillegg ikke noe hjernen vår er spesielt glad for. Det medfører stor energibruk i starten og gjør oss sårbare. Derfor kan vi oppleve at fysiske endringer, i begynnelsen, trigger alt fra irritasjon, oppgitthet, ubehag, utålmodighet eller sinne i oss.

Hvor stor toleranse har du for disse emosjonene?

Hvis du har fått liten trening i selv-regulering i møte med slike emosjoner er det mer sannsynlig at du vil unngå situasjoner som trigger disse, som feks endringer i hvordan du bruker kroppen din.  På den andre siden vil dét å endre måten du beveger deg på også kunne medføre en endring i måten du forholder deg til deg selv, din egen kropp og dine egne emosjoner på.

Måten du beveger deg på påvirkes av alt fra mobiliteten i hofteledd, ryggvirvler og andre ledd, evnen din til differensiering mellom stabilisatorer og mobilisatorer og ikke minst av hva du bruker kroppen din til. Evnen som ciliærmusklene i øynene dine har til bevegelse er avgjørende for å kunne skifte mellom å fokusere på kort og lang avstand med blikket. Den beste måten dette trenes på er ved å stirre på ting som er langt borte. For å stirre på ting som er langt borte må du befinne deg ute. Hvor ofte befinner du deg ute? Og hvor ofte gir du deg tid til å stirre på ting langt borte når du er ute?

Kanskje du burde slutte å lese og gå ut nå?

Stille vann

Interessert i å bli en mer bevisst kroppsbruker? Start i dag!

The effortlessness of the expert

It takes a lot of effort to make something look effortless – Steven Sondheim

When we witness an expert performer in music or in sport the word “effortless” often springs to mind. However, most people are (hopefully) aware of the amount of work actually needed to reach this level of mastery. Therefor “effort-less” can necessarily not mean that something is “without effort”.

Hånd på klaviatur

A seemingly “effortless” performance is indeed the result of a sophisticated physical and neurological coordination which creates a subtle fluctuation between tension and relaxation in the parts responsible for the movements and to master this coordination is at the true core of every excelling performance.

Excessive and static tension

In a body performing at a high level of function there is very little excessive tension present, each part of the body has just the necessary amount  needed to perform the task.

A lot of us carry an excessive level of tension in certain parts of our bodies, both when we are performing tasks and when we are seemingly relaxed. Changing the tensional pattern of our body takes a long time, primarily because most of us are unaware of much of the tension present in our bodies. In our minds we have a tendency to think that:

TENSION = PAIN

so that when a part of our body is not performing as it should according to its design we may not necessarily attribute the lack of performance to excessive tension as long as it´s not causing us any pain. But the presence of tension is not necessarily visible only through pain but also in restricted movement, non-optimal coordination  and affected performance.

Changing a pattern requires that we first become aware of it. Do a simple exercise: Stand on all fours and allow your stomach to relax and sink down like a hammock.

All the way…

Take some time (think a couple of minutes) to let your stomach completely give in to gravity. You will probably experience that  what you thought were a full relaxation is just a fraction of the potential and that as the seconds pass you will sense more and more micro-releases in the tension in your belly.

Most of us spend an excessive amount of energy constantly sucking in our stomach, so much that when we are in a position where gravity naturally pulls our organs forward we have a problem releasing this tension because it has become a more or less constant and unconscious pattern.

But constant static tension also means restricted circulation and our abdominal region contains things that are dependent on good circulation in order to function properly.

Like your digestive- or reproductive organs.

A constant excess of tension makes it harder to relax but more importantly: it also leads to a limited ability to activate and relax your muscles at different degrees.

A healthier alternative is a constant fluctuating pattern of tension and relaxation where our muscles have the option of not only being in an on/off mode but rather cycling constantly through different degrees of tension/relaxation according to what is needed.

Not this:

av-paa-bryter

but this:

Trinnvis bryter

Keeping a steady frame with your partner while dancing the tango demands a whole range of different degrees of tension that allows you to respond according to the impulses you are receiving. If the muscles of your upper body are so tense and unresponsive that their only options are either on (rigid) or off (loose) there will be no options to choose from, and to just be told to “relax” your elbow or “keep a steady frame” just isn´t detailed enough information.

tangosko

Coordination – using what is needed

When we want to make a movement we have multiple choices  as to how to make our bodies perform that movement. If you intend to pick leafs of the ground in your garden you could use a crane to do the job, it would just not be very practical. Keeping your lower arms extended horizontally in front of you for several hours every day while typing on your computer requires a certain activation in your muscles but the coordination or distribution of workload between those muscles is decisive when it comes to how straining this activity will be for your body. Skjelett

And you can switch the activity of typing with pretty much any other activity, like walking, dancing the tango or playing an instrument.

So why would we use more than we need?

Our muscles are controlled by our neurology. A motor unit consists of a nerve attaching to certain muscle fibres of a muscle. The greater amount of fibres it attaches to the “bigger” the movement the nerve controls. In what we call fine motor skills the motor units attache only to a few fibres and the amount of motor units working at the same time and (hopefully) in coordination is very great, on the opposite side of the scale we have large muscles where a single motor unit controls a great amount of fibres and make them all move at the same time giving a high degree of leverage and force with a lesser degree of coordination needed.

But having the neurological hardware to be able to move the different parts of a muscle independently to one another is not the same as actually being able to do this. Through lack of regular use muscles can become neurologically “lumped together” so that we are not able to differentiate between them any more and differentiation is the key to coordination: if I can’t differentiate between the different muscles in my body I am not able to make them to move independently of one another.

Coordination is the ability to decide  what parts of a muscle  to activate  and how those parts are to move  relative  to each other  and to other muscles of the body.

Some people have a natural tendency for good coordination but for most people the “default” coordination is a result of the sum total of how you have used your body up to this moment which is a highly individual matter for most of us.

Therefor training is sometimes needed.

Both Timani and Nutritious Movement as methods are all about coordination in order to achieve a more sustainable use of the body in order to increase performance and to take a step closer to the realm of the effortlessness we all can benefit from – whether we are experts or no.

 

Passion and Pain

Some time back I had the privilege to be “Artist of the month” in the Timani newsletter and as this was a decidedly new experience I thought I´d share it here, also since the questions of the interview brings up the topic of strain injuries and of having your passion linked to pain, which I think is a big and important topic.

Artist of the month: Miriam Hlavatý

Timani newsletter, March 2017

Did you ever suffer from pain when playing, or think that your body is against you? Then I highly recommend to read about the amazing Timani teacher Miriam Hlavaty in the interview below!

I admire Miriam for the passion she has for musicians’ possibilities to learn about the body and mind. She has already taught Timani at the conservatory in Tromsø and Performance psychology at the conservatory in Trondheim, as well as giving Timani courses in several countries. She is also an amazing composer, a Nutritious Movement instructor, a specialist in listening (hence her website www.thelisteningexperience.com), and she plays the piano with refinement, great sound and musicality. I am just very happy to have met this person and to have her teaching Timani. I highly recommend her teaching if you are considering taking a Timani lesson. Her next weekend course in Timani will be in Oslo on the 5th-7th of May. Don’t miss it:)

T: When did you begin with Timani?

I started practicing Timani in 2013 when I attended my first weekend course and signed up for the certification training.

T: How have you benefited from taking lessons in Timani?

At that time I suffered from several playing-related strain injuries and had all but given up on piano playing after having fought my way through a Bachelor and Masters degree at the Norwegian Conservatory of Music. The various physical obstacles had stopped me from pursuing a traditional career as a pianist but they had also forced me to become creative and find other possibilities, for instance in the world of contemporary music with its extended piano techniques, into experimental music and, as a lecturer,  into the realm of musical perception and listening. This was a result of signing up for a course in Sonology which was taught at NMH by the composer Lasse Thoresen who later became my mentor during my Masters. All of this is today present in my work.

A friend of mine from the conservatory recommended that I try a weekend course in Timani. She had experienced some of the same strain injury difficulties as myself and knew how fed up I was with trying out every new cure that was on the market. Even so she succeeded in convincing me to give it a try. I remember I was very skeptical at first having experienced several disappointments earlier with other types of methods and systems. At the end of the weekend course everything had changed.

For the first time in 20 years I was given clear and understandable information which told me not only what I had been doing which had sustained the strain injuries and kept them returning again and again, but what was more important: I was given tools in the form of concrete  anatomical, neurological and biomechanical knowledge on how to do things differently, along with exercises in order to make it possible for me to do things differently.

At the end of the weekend course I signed up for the certification-training. I very rarely take abrupt or impulsive choices, I’m usually the kind who needs to ponder things a lot but this was one of the few times in my life when I knew I was in the right place and that this was a moment and a chance not to be missed.

T: You are now a Timani Advanced teacher and have completed the three year certification training.  Would you talk a little bit about how this has affected you?

Apart from recovering from the strain injuries I have finally found that which allows me to express what I need to express through my music, not by becoming the traditional pianist I thought I wanted to be, but by giving me access to the versatile and wondrous instrument that my body now is becoming in terms of playing and expressing music. Composing and experimenting with the instrument has also become a very important path for me.

Also, what I have gained through Timani has gone much deeper than mere technique and physical development.

Living with chronic pain and especially with pain which is linked to doing what you love the most affects you, physically and mentally. There is nothing which drains you more than having your greatest joy in life constantly associated with pain and discomfort. Living with constant and chronic pain also affects the endocrine system of the body. For a period of time I was forced to go on medication in order to dampen the excess production of cortisol and stress hormones, an excess production which was the result of living with chronic pain. During experiences like this it really is no wonder that you begin to hate your body and think of it as something working against you, actively thwarting your greatest wish: to be able to play music.

I would therefore say that the greatest benefit for me becoming an advanced teacher is the ability to see the body not as an adversary but as an incredibly logical construction which is constantly adapting to how it’s being used and under which conditions it has to function. And therefore also as adaptable to an almost unlimited degree.

This helps me to relate to other peoples problems in a different way and hopefully makes me a teacher and a lecturer worth trusting.

I have also found great pleasure in becoming more of a body nerd. I’m taking additional education into different systems of physical movement therapy while at the same time having now the confidence and trust in my own intuition which allows me to once more explore the fields of composition and improvisation. This time not as a way to avoid a problem but out of the sheer joy of exploration.

T:  As a musician, do you have any dreams pertaining to physical and mental mastery?

I think being part of and working with something so heavily rooted in tradition as classical music, has some disadvantages. For instance: at a very early point you start to adopt certain concepts and beliefs concerning what being a musician is about and what it entails, especially  in terms of accepting certain things as inevitable, such as physical pain or discomforts, or a certain level of stress.

In some instances these beliefs are so strong that they might keep us from seeking help and convince us that this is an acceptable state of being if we want to live a life of music.

Therefore the realization that this might not be the case gave me a somewhat different perspective on what to accept as limitations in my life. I think that one of my biggest dreams is to be able to look at my musicianship and my life in general with even greater expectation when it comes to creative potential, artistic ability or my health in general.

T: What would you say to inspire musicians around the world?

The most amazing instrument you’ll ever play is the one you’re walking around in so learn to use it in the best way possible. The knowledge is available, don’t be afraid to seek it out.

Where does the music end and the listenig begin?

Musical jiggsaw-puzzles at Kamfest 2016

Our perception of reality is a highly individual matter: every day our mind is occupied by trying to create coherence between an unimaginable amount of fragments brought to us through our different senses. It is a bit like a game: you’re given certain pieces but how you combine them is up to you.

Art and music reflects this essential fact that we humans are not sharing one reality but rather perceiving myriads of different possibilities of reality, all interlaced and happening at the same time. We are all aware that two people might experience the same piece of music or art in entirely different ways. The music or the art work is the same and yet the experience differs.

The continued construction of our separate realities is a game which every human being plays continuously, whether we are aware of it or not but once we are aware of it it is possible to use it consciously. Within the world of music this sense of the possibility that lies in co-creation with the listener is more present in particular composers and their works than in others.

bent-sorensen

At the Kamfest 2016, the annual chamber music festival in Trondheim, Norway, the Danish composer Bent Sørensen is this year´s “composer in residence” and brings to the festival his unique flavour of musical landscapes. I first encountered his music several years ago when, as a Master student at the Norwegian Conservatory of Music, Bent Sørensen was one of the three composers around whose works I centred my thesis. That knowledge was deepened when, in 2007, Sørensen was composer in residence at Festspillene in Bergen where I was able to attend the performance of several of his works and was also able to conduct an interview with him.

Searching for the familiar un-known

From my very first encounter with his music, Sørensen’s works always held a strange and unique fascination. Perhaps it had to do with a lifelong love for jigsaw puzzles; as a child jigsaw puzzles held an endless fascination for a mind who was constantly looking for patterns. Or maybe it was the other way around: maybe the hour-long searching for pieces that would fit each other was the activity which triggered a lifelong fascination for pattern-seeking.

puslenoter

The search for patterns and form can be conducted both visually but also aurally and musically. When listening to music we are essentially listening for form. The listening mind is forever searching for an underlying pattern, something which will make what we hear “logical” and “understandable”. This is however not a logic and understanding based so much on intellectual concepts as it is based on a sense of relationships, and acute sense that some parts are closer connected than others and that the entire piece therefore consists of a sort of pattern which is graspable if we are able to conceive it.

The Norwegian composer Arne Nordheim made a rather famous and much quoted comment of Sørensen’s music that “it reminds me of something I have never heard before” pinpointing this strange feeling of familiarity coupled with the sense of something unknown which the music of Sørensen triggers.

The music is all texture and movement, fragments and whispers which give rise to slips of memory. Unexpected qualities of sound (in several of his pieces musicians are asked to sing or hum while playing their instruments) and tempos which plays with our ability of perception and where fast moving sonic structures tricks the mind into a perception of larger, slower moving fields of sound, like millions of small rivulets of current creating the larger swellings of a river.

deserted-church

Listen to the piece The Deserted Churchyards where two lines of texture move together, one from above and one from below , crossing and departing- shimmering facets and velvety lines entwining and dancing, and where the glockenspiel also triggers the pictures of church bells swallowed slowly by an ever encroaching sea line (especially if you stay on to the end of the piece). 

The deserted Churchyards performed by Esbjerg ensemble conducted by Jules van Hessen

Another hot tip is the CD Birds and Bells with Oslo Sinfonietta, Christian Lindberg and Christian Eggen playing music of Sørensen for those who wish to submerge deeper into his music.

The Jigsaw puzzle that never stops

In one of the concerts in Bergen, which was given the title “Songs in rings of bells,” ten of Sørensen´s compositions were organized into a sequence where the different individual works were fused into each other in a long cycle. Some of the works were solo pieces, others were written for chamber ensemble.

According to Sørensen the challenge in organizing the concert laid in discovering the coherence and connection between pieces which were composed at different times but which still held the same subconscious element of connection, something, he stated, which had always been there.

In a way a composer´s entire output of works might be likened to the pieces of a gigantic jigsaw puzzle where each individual work relates to one piece of the puzzle, excavated with enduring and painstaking integrity from the composers unique musical landscape. In the concert in Bergen the fusing of the different pieces woke to life this sense of unfolding of a landscape which continued outside of its borders.

This hints to one of the most fascinating aspects of music: As an ever reflecting living prism, music changes and is affected by the setting in which it is presented. As humans we are multi-sensorial creatures: unless we actively shut off our senses, isolating only one at a time, our senses will forever fill out and enrich each other and our experiences. The same piece of music experienced on a train late at night with headphones or in a fully packed concert Hall during a festival are two entirely different experiences no matter if the music is the same. A person in love and a person with a dental appointment will probably colour their experience of the same piece of music quite differently. A piece of music, however well we might know it, is forever growing, sprouting new limbs, whispering in new voices and our possibility for experiencing it in new ways are endless.

The multiple realities of art and of humans

Just as all of our senses are engaged to a certain degree in every art- experiences we encounter, listening and perceiving art is also a highly co-creative experience.

My father worked, among other things, as a scenographer at the theatre, providing the visual parts and settings of the performance. His main creed was always that the less visual cues you give the audience, the greater liberty you are granting to their imagination and co-creation of the experience. Theatre, as well as music is a co-op: it demands the active co-operation of everyone involved and that includes the audience/listeners.

svart-teater

From the rehearsal of the theatre performance Måne over gjøglarvogna, one of the first performances in Norway where black light theatre was used, a form of theatre introduced in Norway by my father Karel Hlavaty. This performance was created in cooperation between my father and my mother, Nina Martins

The only reason why it is possible for a scenographer to depend on the co-creation of the audience or for a composer to depend on the aural jigsaw puzzle-skills of his audience is the knowledge that this is a central part of the human mind: the ability and fascination for filling out the picture, for joining the dots.

JSBachIn the suites for solo cello by Johan Sebastian Bach the cellist has four strings, four fingers and a bow at his or her disposal. Only two strings can be played simultaneously and therefore the possibilities for creating harmony and chords (three or more notes played simultaneously) is limited. How then is it possible to create the impression of more than one voice moving along?

The solution is to involve the listener as a co-creator: in his music Bach often implies harmony by having the cellist move between fragments of two or more voices. In the listener’s mind the fragments merge into two or three separate voices being played simultaneously and thus harmony is created. One way this is done is through arpeggios or broken chords, where the notes of the chord are played after one another but where the listener combines them in his head. Here is an example from the Allemande of the second Suite in d-minor.

Seen in a time perspective the notes are played after one another in succession along a horizontal timeline, the hallmark of melody, but in the mind of the listener harmony (the stacking of notes vertically) is nevertheless created.

Most of us are highly unaware of all the amazing processes happening inside ourselves when we are conceiving art; of how many amazing sensorial connections that are being made and contributing to our overall experience. If we were aware of this we might perhaps place less of an emphasis on the opinion of others to tell us how to think and feel about what we have just experienced and simply be present in the unique jigsaw puzzle-games of our amazing minds.

george_crumb_agnus_dei_detail

A detail from one of the beautiful scripts of American composer George Crumb

Maybe we should all be more in awe over our own creative ability when encountering music or art, an ability without which would render music and art as barren constructions and not as the amazing playgrounds for the mind that they are.

 

 

 

 

Jeg lytter, altså er jeg..

Lytting som eksistensiell erfaring eller hvordan høre det store mønsteret i en verden av fragmenter.

I Morgenbladet (av 13. april 2012) skrev vitenskapsjournalist Lone Frank om forskningsfunn som indikerte at multitasking, vår tids honnørord i arbeidslivet, ikke bare minsker effektiviteten vår (i tillegg til at den booster produksjonen av stresshormoner i kroppen) men også svekker innlæringsevnen. Distraksjoner i en hver form bidrar til at den kunnskapen som kommer inn går utenom langtidshukommelsen vår og dermed også blir fortere glemt. Men i dag hvor Google har tatt over rollen som vår langtidshukommelse (så lenge vi har internettilgang); hva er egentlig problemet?

Multitasking

Stikkordet er kontinuitet.

Multitasking og andre mentale flipperspill bryter opp vår opplevelse av kontinuitet og gjør oss mer sårbare for distraksjoner. Dette får konsekvenser for vår evne til langsiktig fokusering, altså å holde fokuset rettet mot én ting eller ett fenomen over et lengre tidsrom. I en hverdag som flommer over av flimrende sanseinntrykk via alle kanaler er evnen til å fokusere på én ting ad gangen ikke lenger en selvfølgelig evne.

Med manglende evne til å fokusere følger manglende evne til å oppfatte større former; former som strekker seg ut i tid og som derfor krever et langt strekk av fokus og oppmerksomhet for å oppfattes. Og det er her relevansen til lytting dukker opp.

Denne artikkelen dreie seg om hvordan denne oppmerksomhetsspredningen påvirker måten vi lytter til musikk på.

Form

Hva er form? Form er dét som holder og ordner deler sammen; dét som skaper helhet. Et ordnende prinsipp. Innen musikk er kunnskap om form og evne til å skape og å oppfatte former uvurderlig viten både for musikere, for komponister og for lyttere.

De tre gruppene danner til sammen en gjensidig påvirkende trekant i musikkopplevelsen:

Komponist musiker lytter

– komponisten produserer et veikart av effektive men samtidig begrensende symboler (også kalt noter eller partitur)

– utøveren/musikeren må fortolke disse og legge til sin egen faglige kunnskap og kulturelle bakgrunn (også kalt fortolkning)

– lytteren bidrar ved å bringe til bords sine egen personlige erfaringer og forventninger og mange av de forventningene er (uten at vi nødvendigvis er klar over det) knyttet til oppfattelsen av “form”.

Jeg forstå den ikke!

Som lyttere søker vi ubevisst etter form i musikken vi møter.

Innvendingen om ikke å “forstå” musikken handler som oftest i bunn og grunn om behovet for å finne en logikk i den informasjonen eller de lydene man står overfor og denne logikken ligger gjemt nettopp i musikkens “form” .

modern-music-cartoon

Komponisten Arnold Schönberg snakket om det han kalte “organisk form”. Dette begrepet brukes for å beskrive et ordnende prinsipp hvor alle delene i et musikkstykke forholder seg til hverandre som delene i en levende organisme: hver del har sin funksjon som forholder seg til, og påvirker, de andre delenes funksjon. Dette medfører også at hvis vi endrer én del vil det uvergelig få konsekvenser for alle de andre delene. Ingenting er upåvirkelig og adskilt.

Logikken i disse forholdene er basert på basale energilover: aksjon følges av reaksjon, oppbygging følges av utløsning, spenning av avspenning og det er rundt disse forholdene at den musikalske formen bygges opp; som et forløp av hendelser, som sekvenser og mønstre.

Likevel er dét å være i stand til å oppfatte disse mønstrene ikke nødvendigvis noe som kommer av seg selv, det må trenes og en av forutsetningene er nettopp evnen til å kunne fokusere lenge nok til å kunne oppfatte lengre forløp av hendelser. Det hele er litt som forskjellen på å betrakte et pointillistisk maleri på nært hold: helheten er kun tilgjengelig hvis vi tar ett par skritt bakover og utvider synsfeltet vårt.

For de som kan fransk, her er et eksempel på hvordan fargene i et bilde av Seurat skapes gjennom en optisk illusjon som krever, nettopp, avstand for å kunne oppfattes. Ta en titt her

Når det gjelder auditive opplevelser må avstand erstattes med hukommelse: fordi musikk er noe som foregår langs en tidsakse kreves det at vi er i stand til å huske begynnelsen av en frase når vi har nådd slutten av den for å være i stand til å oppfatte frasen som en helhet.

Og er det noe som virkelig hjelper på hukommelsen så er det gjentakelse.

Der hvor vi ved maleriet kan ta et skritt tilbake kan vi, når vi lytter til noe, lytte til det én gang til, i alle fall så lenge det vi lytter til er en innspilling. Spesielt når det gjelder et komplekst tonemateriale kan vi noen ganger være helt avhengige av opptaksteknologi for å få det nødvendige overblikket:

 Den musiske hval

På 1970-tallet ble “save the whales”-bevegelsen et verdensomspennende fenomen bla takket være utgivelsen av CD´en “Song of the Humpback Whale” hvor bioakustiker Robert Payne tok undervannsopptak av “hvalsang”, denne merkelige blandingen av klikking og høyfrekvente, plystrende og ulende lyder som hvalene utstøtte og som takket være vannets ledningsevne når det kommer til lydbølger, kunne nå over ufattelige avstander.

Hvalsang CD

Payne kom over de første opptakene av hval via en marineingeniør som hadde tatt opptak av de merkelige sukkende og ulende lydene mens han lyttet etter Russisk ubåtaktivitet nær Bermudatriangelet. Da Payne spilte av de lange opptakene av tilsynelatende tilfeldige lyder oppdaget han at det dreide seg om organiserte forløp av ulike lyder av forskjellig varighet som ble repetert helt nøyaktig, de korteste på litt over 6 og de lengste på over 30 minutter. Disse sekvensene eller “sangene” ble så gjentatt, noen ganger så lenge som 24 timer i strekk.

Hvalsang sekvens

Er du interessert i å lese mer om de fascinerende forsøkene til Payne kan du ta en titt her

Grunnen til at man først hadde oppfattet lydene hvalene produserte som tilfeldige var at enkelte av sekvensene hadde en såpass lang varighet at det var umulig for forskerne å huske dem når de endelig ble gjentatt. Men ved å høre på opptak som kunne spilles igjen og igjen ( og å se dem fremstilt som en visuell graf) var det derimot plutselig mulig å gjenkjenne mønstrene og sekvensene i lydrepertoaret som ble gjentatt, “formen” som gjorde at lydene gikk fra å være tilfeldige lyder til å bli “sanger”.

Poenget med dette eksempelet: En evne til overblikk er nødvendig for å kunne oppfatte mønster og jo større mønsteret er jo mer overblikk kreves.

Dette har betydning i langt flere sammenhenger enn bare ved musikkopplevelser:

Donald Trump

I politikkens ytre fløyer falbys gjerne de enkle løsningene som kan forklares med noen velvalgte slagord. De små fragmentene som er lette å slynge ut og enkle å oppfatte og som samtidig skaper et verdenssyn hvor vi ikke føler verken tilhørighet eller ansvar for omgivelser og medmennesker. For å kunne ta et mentalt skritt tilbake og se en større sammenheng trengs evnen til å kunne holde et lengre fokus, evnen til å oppfatte en større form.

Uten denne evnen blir de små fragmentene den eneste tilgjengelige virkeligheten, og vi ser ting kun ut ifra vår egen synsvinkel, ute av stand til å se ”det store bildet”, ute av stand til å oppfatte oss selv som del av en større form.

The soundtrack of our time

Hver trend vil til syvende og sist fremkalle sin motsats for å skape balanse. Derfor er det kanskje ikke overraskende at i en tid hvor det flimrende og hektiske er allestedsnærværende oppstår det en økende interesse for musikk som sier det motsatte.

“Before, my pieces were like objects; now, they’re like evolving things.” – Feldman

Innen den klassiske musikken har i de siste årene musikken til komponister som Morton Feldman vekket en stadig bredere interesse. Feldman som levde fra 1926 til 1987 er kjent, bl.a for sin unike kontemplative musikk. Vi snakker om musikk som oppleves best gjennom et par lyddempende øretelefoner eller fra en strategisk plassert stol i et lyddempet lytterom – musikk som krever fullt lytterfokus.

morton-feldman

Feldman skal ha uttalt at jo lenger et stykke er jo mindre materiale trenger du som komponist og flere av stykkene hans som kan vare opptil flere timer er ytterst sparsommelige når det gjelder tonemateriale så vel som dynamisk variasjon. Til gjengjeld byr de på en, i vår tid, unik mulighet for langsiktig fokusering og krever et lytterfokus av en helt spesiell kvalitet.

Det dreier seg ikke om fokusering med den hensikt å få kunnskap og stimulering men heller en egen form for dyp iakttakelse.

Feldman selv påpekte hvordan hele hans generasjon var fanget i trenden med å komponere stykker som lå innenfor et 20-25 minutters forløp pr sats og at når lengden på et helt verk oversteg én til én og en halv time dukket helt nye utfordringer opp, utfordringer som endret hele form-begrepet.

 Musikk uten tid

En av de mange definisjonene av musikk er at det er “organisert lyd” og i en organisering spiller gjerne tidsaspektet en viktig rolle. En melodi er enkelttoner satt i en bestemt rekkefølge. De får dermed en utstrekning i tid i motsetning til et bilde som kan oppfattes i et glimt.

Men når denne utstrekningen blir lang nok og materialet som fyller den sparsomt nok slutter vi å oppfatte musikken som lineær, i stedet begynner musikken å påvirke vår oppfattelse av tid:

For å oppleve at noe utvikler seg trengs det som regel variasjon, at noe nytt presenteres. Når noe gjentas identisk i lang tid opplever vi det som statisk. Det musikalske materialet hos Feldman er små elementer som både gjentas og varieres men fordi materialet er så sparsomt føler vi i liten grad at det beveger seg. Samtidig skjer det hele tiden subtile endringer i dette materialet. Denne paradoxale kombinasjonen av variasjon og stillstand bidrar på et vis til å svekke vår oppfattelse av tid som noe lineært. I stedet presenteres vi for dét som, i musikalsk form, tilsvarer evigheten: en opplevelse av et vedvarende “nå” uten begynnelse eller slutt. Som et havblikk for ørene.

 Stille vann

Interessant nok kan slike lytteropplevelser noen ganger skape sinnstilstander som er sammenlignbare med dem som ofte søkes og oppstår i flere former for meditasjon. Grunnen er kanskje at svært mange opplever denne formen for bevissthetstilstand som svært nærende. Hele tiden balanserende: rolig men ikke passiv, kontemplativ men ikke likegyldig, aktiv men ikke rastløs.

Dagens oppfordring med etterdønningene av påskeferie fortsatt i kroppen: Skru av mobilen, innta øretelefonene og lyttestolen og ta et mentalt og sanselig lydbad i Feldmans verk for piano solo “For Bunita Markus” (innspillingen av pianisten Sabine Liebner anbefales, den ligger ute på Spotify) og kjenn hvordan hjernen reagerer på å utsettes for forløp av en slik dimensjon.

CD Morton Feldman musikk

Her er en annen versjon tilgjengelig via youtube