October 4, 2011

Why Feral?

My father once said he was an indigent farmer and I was one of the indigents he was raising. How right that joke was. I grew up in the forest. With goats, chickens, coyotes, wild raspberries, weeds, overgrown creeks and deep still ponds. My parents did very little to change the forest, preferring to let nature decide how things should grow and letting us kids run loose in the growing wilderness. As a result, I feel out of place in towns and cities. There is just so little wildlife there, so little green plant growth. I don't navigate very well without tree trunks surrounding me and find street signs an oddly awkward way of marking trails. In many ways, I feel like a feral creature; one who comes from a domesticated species but now lives wild.
When I went off to study music, I studied Classical. It is actually difficult to get training on the flute that isn't Classical but I would have gone that route anyway because I love the music. Yet, Classical training is, in a sense, the domesticated form of the modern musician. The teaching program is well worked out and fairly similar for each person. Classical musicians are not encouraged to go out and play on street corners for random strangers. Instead, they are trained to perform indoors and only to play Classical music, not folk. Even Jazz is somewhat suspect by some teachers.
Now I love playing in concert halls for audiences who also love Classical music. But I also love playing Celtic music, Middle Eastern music and as many different musical ideas as I can. And I especially love improvising - the magic of creating music on the spot is wilder, freer, more feral than anything else I have run across.

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