Joe's Blog

“Dissociation” as a virtue

November 23, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving

Practice notes for 11/23/21

I am saying this mantra over and over each time I play a key. It refers to the intentionality, or i should say lack of intentionality, of the motion of the fingers on the way to the keys.

Mantra: |: “it comes out of nowhere” :|.

The “repeat” bars  mean that I say it over again for each finger in a melody,  or in a chord or interval.

It comes out of nowhere and all it leaves behind is a sound.

Unlike the “strong” force in physics, which gets stronger the closer one particle gets to another in the nucleus, the conscious ‘intention’ on the part of the finger to end up on a given note, gets less and less as it gets closer and closer to the key surface, and does so preferably not in a linear fashion (so  that there is a proposed final velocity as the finger and the key make  contact) but exponentially, asymptotically, as if the finger and body are  more and more loosing intention to play the key. Contact arises out of  nowhere and for no reason at all, and thus there is a maximum reduction in stiffness and tension at the end causing the sound to ‘open up’ and the technique to become more fluid.

There is less and less direction and intention in the finger as it approaches the note. The finger loosens up, it drifts off at the last moments. All the other joints and muscles have simultaneously lost intention, althought the fingers are the most important in this regard. at the very last instant the finger tips seem to be going in tiny circles horizontally to the keyboard creating a probability cloud as to where on the key it will make final contact, the latter event being the least important in the process.

Is there then zero intention in the body. Not really. It’s just that any conscious degree of intention is magnitudes too much intention.

As we continue to play, there is no intentional movement designed to get the ‘next’ finger to its note, no matter what the distance is on the keyboard to that note, and regardless of where that note is situated left or right of the current note. This last part is hard, since we must loose intention at the very moment where it would seem the most important. And loose it more and more in the last fractions of a second before the sound.

Intention lies in the muscles, and even when we first reduce it, it still  remains in the body, where it must be discovered and dealt with. And if it  does sufficiently diminish in one part of the body, some other part of the body responds (“comes to the rescue”) by stiffening to make up the  difference in ‘loss’ of tension.


Losing a specific path or direction to the key does not imply substituting in another direction or path of approach in its place.

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