Christian Pincock - May 12, 2013
MODIFICATIONS OF THE MIND is an electro-acoustic work for processed valve trombone which uses a homemade system of controls which attach to the trombone and send data through a micro-controller to a custom MAX/MSP patch. Much of the six movements of the piece are built of discreetly static sonic textures which don’t develop much in a traditional sense; rather, their juxtaposition in various combinations and lengths of time create the piece’s form and method of development.
The title is a reference to the Yoga Sutras, an outline of the philosophical practice of yoga written by an ancient sage named Patanjali. The second of this influential collection of short aphorisms (Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodhah), is commonly translated as “Yoga [is the practice of] restraining the modifications [of the] mind.” The rest of the Yoga Sutras describe how to accomplish this.
In the second of the Yoga Sutras’ four parts, Patanjali outlines eight practices to achieve this restraint known as the Yoga Ashtanga or the Eight Limbs of Yoga. The six movements of this piece are inspired by these practices.
1) The five Yamas are ethical principals or personal controls including Ahimsa (non violence), Satya (truthfulness), Astea (non stealing), Brahmacharia (virtue), and Aparigraha (non grasping).
2) The five Niyamas are practices for elevating one’s presence in the world. These include Saucha (purity), Santosha (contentment), Tapas (austerity), Svadhyaya (personal inquiry), and Ishvara Pranidhana (surrender to the unknown).
3) Asana is the practice of holding posture to focus the mind so the practitioner can distinguish between the permanent and impermanent.
4) Pranayama is the practice of controlling breath and energy for the purpose of integrating body and mind.
5) Pratyahara is the practice of differentiating between the senses and their causes quieting the reactive tendency of the mind.
6, 7 & 8) Samyama is the combination of the final three limbs of the Yoga Ashtanga: Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (contemplation) and Samadhi (absorption).
After my performance will be an open session in which all are welcome to participate. Before each improvisation, I will invite the performers to consider a particular approach involving a conscious relationship to pulse. The goal is to explore approaches and processes that each participant may not have explored before, possibly taking them outside of their comfort zone. After each improvisation, I’ll invite the performers to briefly describe what they did that they thought worked and didn’t work as a way to share the processes and perceptions of our improvisational approaches.
Here are a few ideas to consider:
—All musicians relating to different pulses throughout.
—All musicians relating to the same pulse except for one who is noticeably contrasting.
—All musicians alternate relating to the pulses of other musicians and contrasting them.
—All musicians agree on a pulse but relate to it only by inference.
—Half of the musicians play in a pulse explicitly and the rest relate to it only by inference.
—One musician changes the pulse often and the others relate to that musician’s pulse.
—Collective pulse is undefined; Individual players alternate playing ahead and behind it.
—Half of the musicians focus on accelerating a pulse and the rest focus on slowing it down.