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Music Improvisation - A Peak Experience?


Many people think of a peak experience as requiring unique special circumstances. Descriptions of peak experience often involve being the receiver of sensory stimulation from without, e.g. 'the view', the 'climb', the 'race', etc. Without doubt these forms of peak experience are quite exceptional and naturally very memorable. It would suggest that to achieve peak experience is relatively uncommon and to encounter one would require quite a degree of effort. However peak experience is also available in a much more 'ordinary' sense once the inner door to it is found and opened. This peak experience commences from within, is more available, and emerges through the act of creativity. The act of creativity which concerns us here is music.

Music touches us differently from other forms of communication. When we use words to describe our feelings we are in effect, 'translating' the feelings. It is questionable as to whether many of us are sufficiently competent to do this satisfactorily. It involves the naming of the feelings. Through ignorance we might know that we are feeling 'something' but don't know its name. At other times we might not even be able to access our feelings let alone express them.

When we use music/sound we aren't translating in the same way. As a result it can be easier to externalise our feelings this way. Playing music of all styles can be highly stimulating and at certain moments can produce a feeling of peak experience. Music allows us to stimulate our feelings and in performance, externalise them. Whilst music is a kind of language, its vocabulary is very different from the spoken word. So, music in effect, goes directly to the source. 

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