term intuitive music originated with electronic and experimental music
Karlheinz Stockhausen, and popularly dates from a 1971 presentation made at
the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. Stockhausen was describing a
process he was exploring whereby the participating musicians aimed to set aside
the strictures of accepted musical form, style and compositional rules, and, for
better or worse, to remove all internal and external impediments to experiencing
purely inspired, "intuitive" musical expression, wherever that might lead.
are certain abilities required now in order to play this sort of music that I
call intuitive music," he explained. "Musicians must learn to become the
opposite of egocentric... When you become like what I call a radio
receiver, you are no longer satisfied with expressing yourself; you are not
interested in yourself at all. You will be amazed at what happens to you
when this state is achieved; you become a medium."
Thus intuitive music in Stockhausen's
original sense does not admit of any historical musical precedents, and
therefore cannot observe any rules of composition or classifications of style,
or in fact any rules at all. Purity of inspired musical expression
constitutes its sole aim.
Stockhausen's ideas were revolutionary in the
west, and were at first only temperately received, even among his progressively
minded audience. However the principles expressed have since taken
firm root within the progressive music community at large, and continue to spawn
and support ongoing experiments and active offshoots today.
By the 1990's, new expressions of this work
began to emerge that embraced the insights and "intuitive listening" abilities
gained through the exercise of Stockhausen's principles, and naturally
incorporated them to infuse existing structured musical forms with new life.
Neon Egypt's music could be said to constitute one such expression.
From the musicians' standpoint, music that is
intuitively produced, and also one's view and experience of that process, tend
to become unavoidably melded to some degree with the character of one's previous
musical experiences and training. Nevertheless, intuitive music-making is
above all a perpetual frontier, and accordingly Neon Egypt's working
descriptions of our music and creative process remain flexible. That said
however, there are several clearly discernable characteristics of intuitive play
that seem to universally manifest, and that define our shared personal
experience of creating music in this way:
Immediacy - Intuitive music is very much
a present moment activity. Even when expressing silence, there is
continuous, uninterrupted musical presence.
Spontaneity - in the pure sense.
Not the absence of discipline, but the determined, moment-by-moment absence
Inspiration - The sense that the musical
information being expressed is arriving from a source other than (often higher
Abandonment of Thinking - The foil of
inspiration, thinking tends to produce mechanical results, largely by calling
upon memory and prior conditioning.
"Musicalness" - Intuitive music is
music, implying artistic intention and coordination, both
aspects of consciousness. It is not random or aleatory (chance) sound, as
can be generated using mathematical formulae, or by mechanical techniques such
as isolating individual players. Allowing for differing musical tastes
then, intuitive music is generally found to be listenable, even pleasing, to
Non-repeatability - If a piece can be
played over again, it must have an existence in thought and memory, apart from
intuition. Intuitive music is always fresh.
Threshold Experience - Intuitive
musicians act at the interface where the unmanifest becomes the manifest.
(More on this in a future article - please check back.)
For additional perspective, read
Questions and Answers on Intuitive Music from K. Stockhausen's 1971 London
Also see the page on Neon Egypt's precursor
group, Tabula Rasa, for additional notes on
the intuitive play process.
"The purpose of your life on earth is to
learn how to yield your mind to the spirit of eternity."
- Spiritual author Vernon Howard
Other Interesting Sources:
Home Page for Karlheinz
Music by Marcus
Intuitive Music Orchestra (Russia)
(site text in Russian can be machine translated using
Secondary Australian site with some English text:
Jarek Czechowicz, Peace Music
(has an excellent article on intuitive music)
Music Home Page (Denmark)
by Carl Bergstrøm-Nielsen
Cloudfire - Music In The Moment
Additional resources may be found through a web
search for "Intuitive Music".