Forced spontaneity

Forced spontaneity

Bill Evans from liner notes of the 1959 Kind of Blue album:

There is a Japanese visual art in which the artist is forced to be spontaneous. He must paint on a thin stretched parchment with a special brush and black water paint in such a way that an unnatural or interrupted stroke will destroy the line or break through the parchment. Erasures or changes are impossible. These artists must practice a particular discipline, that of allowing the idea to express itself in communication with their hands in such a direct way that deliberation cannot interfere.

… As the painter needs his framework of parchment, the improvising musical group needs its framework in time. Miles Davis presents here frameworks which are exquisite in their simplicity and yet contain all that is necessary to stimulate performance with sure reference to the primary conception.

When I moved from skiing to snowboarding, all I knew is that getting pushed was step one. To get fitted for the board you needed to understand whether you preferred to lead with your right or left foot, so you were to be pushed from behind. If you put your left foot out to save your fall, you were regular foot; if you put your right foot out, you were goofy-footed. I knew if the first step were that physical, everything else would be, well, downhill.

What I’ve always liked about that process is that it was an instinctual reaction. It was spontaneous. Ask a question of your body, receive an answer. There’s no time to think, nothing unnatural. We just fall.

This forced spontaneity is what the Japanese visual art inspired in its artist; what Miles Davis inspired in his musicians on the Kind of Blue album; what we seek when we look for perspective, traveling to gain physical distance, forcing spontaneity to bring creativity back to our work.