Seven Moons and Seven Gifts
Both of these fully improvised musical works of art are available here with a personal introduction from Mark below! Take a moment and read the essays that were originally included in the DVD booklets and broaden your spiritual and musical horizons!
In high school I was actively involved with the drama department and I planned to be an actor upon graduation. I was completely in love with music, and the piano, but I saw it as a joyful obsession. My true calling, in my mind, was acting. One day as I walked through the dark high school theatre on my way to lunch, I heard this amazing, enigmatic, even ethereal, piano music wafting through the dark arena. As I passed the orchestra pit there, completely absorbed in a very intense zone of concentration, more appropriately described as contemplation, was the pianist from the high school jazz band. A year younger than I was at the time, he stopped playing abruptly when I came up to him and asked, “ What song is that you are playing?”
He then shrugged nonchalantly and said, “It’s not a song. I am just making it up.” Then he went back into his zone and left me dazed, and changed for life as I walked away surrounded by his music. Within minutes of this encounter the question began to form within me. The nagging question. How? How does one make up music? How can one sit at the piano and simply pour music out that sounds beautiful, free, and “composed?”
That question became a quest, and that quest had me switching from actor to musician as I entered college to begin my studies of life and art. Little did I know that this quest would ultimately lead me headlong into God, the Eternal Creator, the Origin of all things beautiful, and that eventually I would learn that what all of us are actually seeking, whether we know it or are willing to admit it, is in fact, communion with the Divine, or as some have called Him, True Love.
The encounter I mentioned with the high school pianist occurred around 1977. It was not until 2014 that I felt like I was actually ready to attempt a legitimate artistic offering built solely on improvisation. I used a life example from even further back in my timeline as a creative impetus for my first entirely improvised recording. My focus was a styrofoam model of the planet Saturn, which I first gazed upon in the summer after my 4th grade year. As I write this I have embarked upon the making of my 3rd improvisational DVD entitled Structure and Freedom. I plan to release it sometime in 2018.
I have learned much about music and the improvising heroes I once idolized. When one finally enters the battlefield, as it were, one learns far more about the places, and the situations where courage is required than one can ever hope to learn while studying courageous individuals from the periphery. Improvisation in music requires more courage of soul than musical skill. Skill is essential, but it is also exponential given it’s proper use and need. Technique, in other words, is a necessity in order for one to be able to express the inner groaning of one’s heart. To be as a child in all things, however, is the one sure way towards true freedom of expression, for a child does not speak his or her mind in order to upset or challenge. A child simply speaks what he or she believes because, in their innocence, as they look out from awe struck eyes, there is no reason not to.
Only after a lifetime of ridicule and nagging do we become the cynical adults that the world conspires to make us into. A few brave souls find the way back through that same gauntlet to the place where they once began. There with dreams, hopes, desires, and joy still intact, they enter as children through the narrow gate and continue the journey towards eternity.
I wish you peace on your quest.
Mark Christopher Brandt
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