group mind

This series of entries will be about “group mind” in ensemble playing. The phrase “group mind” is intended to gather the following: (to be amended as sub-entries are added.)

  • That the collaborative process of ensemble performance results in music that is greater than the sum of its parts.
  • The music takes on a life of its own – a life that is palpable, making demands on the musicians and feeding their creative process.
  • This process is far more than intellectual, involving every aspect of the performers.
  • An artistically effective ensemble performance requires members to be competent (which presumes some ego investment in their competence) and cooperative toward a shared goal (which presumes a willingness to put ego aside to some degree for something greater than oneself.)
  • Effective performance includes some degree of interactive spontaneity (more so in improvisatory music) which implies a discipline of simultaneous playing and listening; feeding the process through playing and feeding off the process through listening – making room for others’ contributions and adding to the whole.
  • This spontaneity requires a certain permeability on the part of the individual performers – a willingness and even a desire to be influenced by both the other musicians and the music itself.
  • “I” to some degree becomes “we” and even “we” fades into the background putting the “music itself” in the foreground.
  • The desire for transcendence – being part of something greater than oneself by “giving oneself” to it – is always at issue for the performers.
  • The unitive effect of music brings about a unity of purpose and experience for the performers.

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