I am an artist/composer from Chicago. I make music and visual art about being: what is, how it is, and how it is to be it.
Johannes Kepler described Musica Universalis, the music of the spheres, Harmonices Mundi. He described a music which laid within the perfect ratios and proportions between heavenly bodies. While his work may have included some inaccuracy due to his forcing of phenomena into the shapes he believed they should exhibit, he described a real thing which is deeply tied our human fascination with music and the world around us. The pitches we use for our most common musical scales are an approximation of the natural harmonics of a waveform, and we find them beautiful because they highlight the proportions and balance of nature.
A more recent concept was studied by Rachel and Stephen Kaplan, that of soft fascination and the restorative properties of spending time in nature. In taking a hike, or gazing at the branches of a tree, the mind is able to wander while still engaging in its environment. Being in a natural environment, one is surrounded by systems of growth which are built on the laws of the universe. Every branch and leaf displays every process which preceded it, and lies in relation with its brethren in perfect harmony, form, configuration, conveying the pure balance of being and development across the medium of our universe and more immediate planet. No energy must be expended to understand their beauty, the forms of nature simply are and exist ideally for their environment.
This soft fascination is the most immediate form of Musica Universalis. The planetary bodies above us and the earth below us both teem with systems of growth and being, which abide by ratios and proportions defined by the very law and nature of the universe. As members of that same universe, human beings and the mechanics of our minds are built on the same foundation. Taking in the nature within us via the nature without us leads to tranquility, epiphany. Engaging with nature does not drain one’s focus because we are nature.
Since we are part of these systems of growth based on natural ratios and proportions, the survival of the human race has depended on us developing the strongest pattern recognition skills possible. Outside of the state of nature, all the energy that was previously devoted to identifying patterns to survive lays dormant. So, this energy gets externalized as pattern synthesis. We make art, and we gather and classify information in science. We make visual art, and define space and form and color, and this art feels balanced and complete when it is reminiscent of the natural forms we are built on. We make music, and it feels consonant and resolves when it approximates the natural resonances of our world, our universe.
Improvisation is the removal of ego in composition. We are animals built to identify patterns, but we live largely as our egos, our developed non-animal selves. In surrendering to our animal identities, our selves as perfect microcosms of the medium upon which we live, and allowing our pattern finding instincts to move unhindered, we can directly synthesize and externalize our streams of consciousness. And since our streams of consciousness come from within us, and we are of the universe and the natural systems of growth and development which can be observed within it, our improvisation chiefly expresses the music of the spheres, Musica Universalis. The sound that a human creates on pure instinct is an illumination of the inaudible music of being, the perfect ratios and proportions exhibited in all the systems of growth that surround us.