The term intuitive music originated with
electronic and experimental music pioneer
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.
"There 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
Stockhausen's ideas were revolutionary in the
were at first only temperately received, even among his progressively minded audience.
principles expressed have since taken firm root within the progressive music
community at large, and continue to spawn and support ongoing experiments and active
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 of planning.
Inspiration - The sense that the musical
information being expressed is arriving from a source other than (often higher than) oneself.
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 humans.
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 (Australia)
(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".