we can never repeat it. that piece we played together during a quiet moment in the service. moments where notes suspended, combined with hearts and lingered in the air. we noodled our way through it and, even just after it was over, we could not speak to how it was shaped or where it went.
it is my absolute joy to work with someone who can join me in this. jim, our beloved guitarist, is a ready partner. hand signals of the key, head nod count offs and we are on our way. sometimes the noodling takes us to a more intense, busy place and sometimes it is the stuff of nirvana, peaceful, thoughtful serenity. always it is rewarding for both of us; we share a smile when it’s done and know that the ethers now own that piece of music. never to be repeated.
improvisation is a driving force – we play at least seven pieces of music every service. with skeletal lead sheets we choose how to perform each one. sometimes we liken our performance to ‘how it was done on the recording’ and sometimes we have our own agenda, working it into the style or feel we wish it to convey. but, because we don’t simply read every note on the page (since they aren’t on the page), we know the performance of each piece will also never be repeated. it is not likely that most realize we are drawing from deep inside, from knowledge or experience, from heart, when we play. they likely think we are reading music that is all written out. i don’t suppose it matters what they think as long as we deliver what we intend. as long as we shape the service emotionally, for that is what the music is all about.
as a composer, my favorite moments, in addition to those sweet moments of harmony when we, with our respective instruments sing and can hear the lining up of the stars, are those moments of noodling. we have no fear of what’s next. we have no preconceived notion of where to go. we just start. and we follow where the music leads us. it’s ephemeral. it starts from the dust and returns to the dust. and is never to be repeated.