Every moment of life is unique-a kiss, a sunset, a dance, a joke. None will ever recur in quite the same way. Each happens only once in the history of the universe.— Stephen Nachmanovitch
The most whopping Stephen Nachmanovitch quotes that are free to learn and impress others
The most potent muse of all is our own inner child.
In improvisation, there is only one time.
This is what computer people call real time. The time of inspiration, the time of technically structuring and realizing... the time of playing it, and the time of communicating with the audience, are all one.
Improvisation is intuition in action, a way to discover the muse and learn to respond to her call.
If I "try" to play, I fail; if I force the play, I crush it; if I race, I trip. Any time I stiffen or brace myself against some error or problem, the very act of bracing would cause the problem to occur. The only road to strength is vulnerability.
Paradoxically, the more you are yourself, the more universal your message.
As you develop and individuate more deeply, you break through into deeper layers of the collective consciousness and the collective unconsciousness.
The noun of self becomes a verb. This flashpoint of creation in the present moment is where work and play merge.
Structure ignites spontaneity. Limits yield intensity. When we play... by our self-chosen rules, we find that containment of strength amplifies strength.
Brahms once remarked that the mark of an artist is how much he throws away.
Nature, the great creator, is always throwing things away. A frog lays several million eggs at a sitting. Only a few dozen of these become tadpoles, and only a few of those become frogs. We can let imagination and practice be as profligate as nature.
If form is mechanically applied, it may indeed result in work that is conventional, if not pedantic or stupid. But form used well can become the very vehicle of freedom, of discovering the creative surprises that liberate mind-at-play.
If we are transparent, with nothing to hide, the gap between language and being disappears. Then the Muse can speak.
If a creative person has a sense of humor, a sense of style and a certain amount of stubbornness, he finds a way to do what he needs to in spite of the obstacles.
I no longer sought skill, flexibility, strength, endurance, muscle tone, and quick responsiveness as means of imposing my will on the instrument, but rather of keeping an open and unrestricted pathway for the creative impulse to play its music straight from the preconscious depths beneath and beyond me.
Any action can be practiced as an art, as a craft, or as drudgery.
Working within the limits of the medium forces us to change our own limits.
Improvisation is not breaking with forms and limitations just to be 'free,' but using them as the very means of transcending ourselves.
Every conversation is a form of Jazz.
The activity of instantaneous creation is as ordinary to us as breathing.
The beauty of playing together is meeting in the One.
Play is the taproot from which original art springs.
It is the raw stuff that the artist channels with all his learning and technique.
The professionalism of technique and flash of dexterity are more comfortable to be around than raw creative power, hence our society generally rewards virtuoso performers more highly than it rewards original creators.
As an improvising musician, I am not in the music business, I am not in the creativity business; I am in the surrender business.
Writing, playing, composing, painting, reading, listening, looking-all require that we submit to being swept away by Eros, to a transformation of self of the kind that happens when we fall in love.
Technique itself springs from play, because we can acquire technique only by the practice of practice, by persistently experimenting and playing with our tools and testing their limits and resistances.
Commitment to a set of rules frees your play to attain a profundity and vigor otherwise impossible.
The power of mistakes enables us to reframe creative blocks and turn them around...The troublesome parts of our work, the parts that are most baffling and frustrating, are in fact the growing edges. We see these opportunities the instant we drop our preconceptions and our self-importance.
The conception, composition, practice, and performance of a piece of music can blossom in a single moment.
Surrender means cultivating a comfortable attitude toward not knowing, being nurtured by the mystery of moments that are dependably surprising, ever fresh.
Every attempt we make is imperfect; yet each one of those imperfect attempts is an occasion for a delight unlike anything else on earth.
Play enables us to rearrange our capacities and our very identity so that they can be used in unforeseen ways
Creative living, or the life of a creator, seems like a leap into the unknown only because "normal life" is rigid and traumatized.
We provide both irritation and inspiration for each other- the grist for each other's pearl making.
You can't express inspiration without skill.
With too little judgement, we get trash. With too much judgement, we get blockage.
Faithfulness to the moment and to the present circumstance entails continuous surrender.
Mastery means responsibility, ability to respond in real time to the need of the moment. Intuitive or inspired living means not just passively hearing the voice, but acting on it.
Whispered words can be devastatingly effective.
Play, creativity, art, spontaneity, all these experiences are their own rewards and are blocked when we perform for reward or punishment, profit or loss.
The Western Idea of practice is to acquire a skill.
It is very much related to your work ethic, which enjoins us to endure struggle or boredom now in return for future rewards. The Eastern idea of practice, on the other hand, is to create the person, or rather to actualize or reveal the complete person who is already there.... Not only is practice necessary to art, it is art.
When we are totally faithful to our own individuality, we are actually following a very intricate design. This kind of freedom is the opposite of "just anything".
Practice is an ever-fresh, challenging flow of work and play in which we continually test and demolish our own delusions; therefore, it is sometimes painful.
An improviser does not operate from a formless vacuum, but from three billion years of organic evolution
Looking at the creative process is like looking into a crystal: no matter which facet we gaze into, we see all the others reflected.
If the art is created with the whole person, then the work will come out whole.
Education must teach, reach, and vibrate the whole person rather than merely transfer knowledge.
Artwork is not thought up in consciousness and then, as a separate phase, executed by the hand. The hand surprises us creates and solves problems on its own. Often, enigmas that baffle our brains are dealt with easily, unconsciously, by the hand.
We can depend on the world being a perpetual surprise in perpetual motion.
The easiest way to do art is to dispense with success and failure altogether and just get on with it.
To create, we need both technique and freedom of technique
Fidgeting and boredom are the symptoms of fear of emptiness, which we try to fill up with whatever we can lay our hands on.
If we split practice from the real thing, neither one of them will be very real.
Here the artist is, as it were, an archaeologist, uncovering deeper and deeper strata as he works, recovering not an ancient civilization, but something as yet unborn, unseen, unheard, except by the inner eye, the inner ear. He is not just removing apparent surfaces from some external object, he is removing apparent surface from the Self, revealing his original nature.