While I am, by any standards, a horrible musician, I do find the practice of music valuable for insights into how my brain works, how my thoughts feed into the efficiency of my movements. The concept of a groove is pertinent here: what is a groove? I have come to think that it is the set of virtual possibilities that you carry within your body while playing a song. A rhythm, a particular rhythm—3/4, 4/4, 6/8 etc.—is ran through like a sequence wherein your possibilities are determined by your place in the sequence; it is a construction you live! At beat one in a bar of four four timing, my possibilities are thus: one whole note, 8 eighth notes, 16 sixteenth notes, 12 triplets etc. When I am on the second beat, granting I didn’t choose a possibility on the first beat which I am sustaining in the second, my possibilities are altered: 6 eighth notes etc.
But, what is the best way to build a groove, build a virtual sequence which you live through the vector of time? This my greatest struggle—but by no means only struggle—with music: this creation of a groove and the sustenance thereof. I have tried multiple methods—the foot tap for base beats arm and arm movement to ensure the consistency of the smaller notes, literal dancing so as to carry the rhythm in my whole body (which becomes exhausting quickly), metronomes of various complexity to hold the groove externally etc., and all of these work for a time—works for a time to hold time, hehe—but, eventually, I fall into a distracting thought which shatters the spell of the groove, which sloves off my virtual projection towards the future. Keeping my mind single pointedly in the groove, without branching off into a reflection which steals the dimension of time from my music, this is my greatest struggle.
Is this best solved by making a sort of spiritual practice of music—a buddhist meditation towards no mind (and, in this case, all groove)? I have tried this, have tried to shut down my drifting reflection so as to keep time strictly for the groove, but this method does not seem to work for me over long stretches of time. The repression of reflective thought takes more mental energy than I can spend and, at the same time, play music. While perhaps it is a matter of building mental muscle overtime—in which case, the only thing to do is practice—I think I may be better served by seeking out another method of playing music. How do I make my reflection strengthen the groove rather than destroy it?
Perhaps, if I reflect on something which I associate with the sound, then I will be able to stay within it—this is the idea I have come up with today. I have often heard people describe what various classical pieces evoke in them—the images, the flights of fancy—and perhaps acquiring such anchors, visual and conceptual accompaniments, to various grooves (or songs, or keys) would be just the thing to keep my wandering mind immersed in it. This makes sense, to me, from a theoretical perspective—sound is only one dimension that sustains itself through time. All the other functions of the mind continue on, even when you aren’t focused on them—visual, conceptual etc.—so bringing them in on the groove, having them dream in tandem with that groove, seems intuitive. Transcendental meditation, the mantra of a whole being to the the rhythm of music, rather than the Zazen shutting out of all mental functions—this seems like it could be within my ability.
A groove—one must evoke it in oneself, create for it a body that it might live against the encroaching chaos of the virtual environment—the mind—it finds itself in.