Hi Ian,

Here are some notes and thoughts I have from last week’s productive rehearsal.

1) The first one is the one you noted yourself: that in concentrating on the goal of becoming more and more ‘saturated,’ and remembering that this sensation of saturation is a full body sensation, you lost sight of the need to specifically return with every phrase or breathe to your center to find this saturation.

It is a question of understanding correctly the relationship between the ‘center’ and the goal of saturation. The correct way of thinking about it is this: your center is the place you go to in order to find the sensation of saturation. The sensation itself is not localized to just the center; it is something you indeed tend to feel with your whole body. The center is like a lens; a place where all of the energy passes through in order to fill you with the sensation. Therefore, if you constantly go back into that place, you will become the most saturated. Furthermore, because you are funneling the energy through a central point, you will experience the whole piece as having a throughline of energy; that is, a completely continuous line of energy which connects the piece from its first moment to its last. (This is in the same sense that a piece of orchestral music can be said to have a throughline. There may be many instruments with different parts, but the overall music has a feeling of having a connecting throughline.)

2) Secondly, and possibly more importantly: In our discussion after the improv, I called to your attention that you were speaking of getting more ‘saturated’ while making a gesture with your hands which looked like you were contracting and pulling in all of the energy into your center. You explained that you were thinking of a sponge ‘drawing in’ the energy.

This kind of image is not going to work well for you. The feeling of getting more and more saturated is always a feeling of expanding, opening up, and relaxing (just like a real sponge expands as it gets saturated). It is never a feeling of pulling in and contracting. In your improvisations so far, you have had good success and finding some very quiet, understated and intimate sound textures. But I still have had a feeling that there is a kind of hidden excess tension in your work, and this may be due to your thinking of yourself as saturating by ‘drawing in’ the energy. (Don’t ask me to pinpoint where I get that impression from, it’s just a sense I have.)

Here is an analogy which you may find useful in understanding why the sensation of saturation is always one of expanding and opening. There is a kind of children’s toy which consists of sponges which have been carved to look like animals: giraffes, tigers, elephants. When you take them out of the package they are completely flat, and you can’t tell what they will turn into. Add water, and they expand. It is only when they achieve maximum saturation that they fully express their inner nature, and their innate form becomes fully apparent.

In the same way, you can think that every sentence in the piece you are performing has its own innate musical form. The musical contour, and the shape of the energy in every sentence is latent, waiting to be discovered by us. Just like the animal sponges, if you allow yourself to become more and more saturated throughout the piece (by going into your center), you will feel that every sentence (and every silence) expands out to become fully itself; to have the full perfect form that it is meant to have. The more saturated you are, the more you can feel the shape of each sentence. Obviously, when I say that the feeling of saturation is always one of expansion, I am not saying that every moment in the piece has to be huge. Some of the toy animal sponges might be of tiny snails and tiny insects. When they become fully saturated, they fully express their innately tiny forms. In the same way, when you are performing a very nicely saturated section of a monologue or dialogue, you will have the feeling that the vocal line is rich, and you will experience the form of the piece in a very rich, full way as you flow though it, even if the innate quality of that particular moment happens to be the quality of a barely audible whisper.

I hope this image makes it clear why it is useful to think of ‘becoming more saturated’ as always being a sensation of expanding and opening up.

See your tomorrow at 11:30.