I N S T R U M E N T A T I O N

on

If the mind is always calm and still, dark and silent, not seeing anything, neither inside nor outside, free of all thoughts and mental images, this is the settled mind, which is not be conquered. If the mind gets excited at objects, falling all over itself, looking for beginnings and ends, this is the confused mind, which ruins the virtues of the Way and undermines essence and life–it should not be indulged. Putting your nature in order is like tuning a stringed instrument. If the strings are too taut, they will snap. If they are too loose, they will be unresponsive. When tautness and relaxation are balanced, the instrument is ready.

Wang Chongyang

What I wondered after reading this was whether taking action to ‘put’ my nature in order would somehow interfere with my nature, and whether music would exist if balance was the measurement by which it was deemed ready to be heard?

Of course these questions are slightly out of context to the intention of ‘the Way’ and possibly the intention of Chongyang.

Thinking more on instruments and sound, my mind chose to stay with the guitar and memories of the many concerts seen on the internet or tv as well as my own attempts to play. I loved the magic shared by singers that told stories to the crowd between sets while simultaneously tuning their own guitars.

While the purpose of tuning the guitar is to correct or achieve a specific sound, sometimes the artist doesn’t know what they want to play until it’s been heard and sometimes the way they choose to tune does not fit into the defined standards of balance.

Nevertheless a sound gets created that achieves a balance of expression that has no unit of measure for artist or listener. The exchange of harmonic interpretation isn’t an indication of readiness so much as an indication of freedom.

We are ready as soon as we’ve been conceived, our ears developing naturally, just as naturally as our first cries.

Within each individual, the untrained and unstable is as valuable as the trained and stable parts of the mind, both necessary for the survival and performance of one uniquely designed musical that at its end will hear no applause nor seek standing ovation.

Like our hearts, our mind has no encore and is always ready. It is only the world that is not always ready for the individually attuned heart and mind.