Impermanence means that as something comes into being, it has already started to decay.
Improvisation exists only for the moment in which it is birthed. The context and scenario that it exists in is perpetually temporary, fleeting without any notice or foresight – an instant manifestation. Composition and improvisation are of the same: the former exists in time, the latter over time. The results are similar: temporary music for a temporary moment. Through time and space perception changes and a new moment arises.
“When I make a work, I often take it to the very edge of its collapse. And that’s a very beautiful balance…”
Embracing decay means respecting the very nature of creation. Below, sand mandalas are swept away immediately upon their completion as a salute to the laws of impermanence. Creation as a cyclical process:
In this video, Tibetan Monks painstakingly spend five days placing tiny grains of sand to create a work of temporary art. On the sixth day they scoop up the sand and pour it into a body of water, releasing the energy of the project back into the community.
Sound, like sand is transient in nature. Recording is the craft of capturing a moment of sound.
With the invention of the phonograph in 1877, humans were armed with the ability to document sound. But how permanent can it be? Media decays and memories evolve; some define our experience while others drift away.
Listening to a record heard 5 years ago does not sound the same if you listen to it today. I used to think that it was the music that changed, but now I realize it’s the listener who changes. Things are not meant to be kept forever.
A piece is part of a greater whole infinitely in flux. Molecules are always vibrating. It makes sense that artists commonly refer to their work as a piece in recognition of the impermanence of their creation. The work is a piece of the world it shares. Complex systems are comprised of many simple parts.