The myriad differences are resolved by sitting, all doors opened.
In this still place I follow my nature, be what it may.
From the one hundred flowers I wander freely,
the soaring cliff – my hall of meditation
(with the moon emerged, my mind is motionless).
Sitting on this frosty seat, no further dream of fame.
The forest, the mountain follow their ancient ways,
and through the long spring day,
not even the shadow of a bird.
Reizan (d. 1411)
Twenty years old and a new-comer to Manhattan’s daunting sky-scraped landscape and dizzying frenetic pace, I happened upon Zen in the Art of Archery. Broadway was arrested by Japanese Peach Blossoms. Twelve years later, I set out to write Zen and the Art of Piano and a companion work, Zen and the Art of Music.
I think of Piano as a modern Zen Art-form, and from long before I’d ever even heard the word Zen, my approach to Piano was imbued with its principles. The present volume is not a philosophical Buddhist tract, but rather essentially a simple treatise on Piano technique – viewed as an art of orchestrating at the keyboard with all the possible colors of the Piano – and a guide to learning how to phrase according to a system of musical analysis based on balancing positive and negative energy. A system seeking to understand the energy at play, it simplifies the musical page to its most essential notes and gestures, allowing the rest to fall naturally into place. Different from traditional music theory, it is based on both the underlying large poles of energy and the surface energy – it’s musical analysis more for performers than theorists, and is relatively easy to learn. And while the orchestration concepts presented as a whole are quite complex, broken down to their basic components of touch, they are not difficult to grasp and obtain. The goals are lofty, the applications very much of this earth.
This performance manual does not claim to be a metaphysical guide to the universe or to parallel realities, nor is it a String-theory of musical energy in its countless dimensions (!). However, the musician’s power lies in his ability to transcend time and space by evoking and balancing many dimensions of time, space and color at every moment. There’s a mystical moment at the beginning of each work, movement or phrase where the performer imagines the music to come and somehow conjures into being an entire field of energy that immediately becomes reality, entering the actual world and leading the performer forward. I call it the Point of Invocation. Most musicians have felt this sensation but it would be difficult to define or prove. This I leave to musical metaphysicians.
One of the main goals in these pages is to give the reader hundreds of real tools to acquire greater sensitivity to the movement of musical energy and to gain a command over it so that he can then release command and flow with Zen-like ease. To me, the energy of Music is part of Creation and is a natural link between the physical and non-physical worlds. Some would call it Tao, and whether you believe in Tao as a spiritual energy force, most of its descriptions accurately describe the practical experiences of great musicians, artists, athletes and all sensitive human beings.
It’s essential for the interpreter to imagine Music in limitless dimensions of time, space and color. When I play a phrase, I search out ways to open up parallel dimensions and am constantly aware of balancing multiple dimensions at the same time, as if juggling. Every phrase contains countless portals, but they are not always immediately apparent, even to the keenest eyes and ears. Left unexplored, the interpreter and listener are trapped within two- or three-dimensional perceptions.
It’s a bit like a riddle – until you know the answer, it's elusive, but once you figure it out, self-evident. I hope the practical tools that I present here will have the same effect on the reader.
Because it is so very clear,
It takes longer to come to the realization.
If you know at once candlelight is fire,
the meal has long been cooked.