A Short Statement About My Music for People Already Familiar with it.

Music is particularly relevant to me for its ability to quickly and vividly communicate and record "states of mind" or "world-state-possibilities" in a way that I think transcends language or analytic schematization. For this reason, I consider it to be among the most exalted aspects of existing human culture, which I am generally critical of, and also a model for other, more vivid, departures from the model of affirmative propositions that could be possible.

My earliest (tape/electronic) music was an exploration of my own childhood alienation and strange inner states, though it was rapidly also supplemented by a different modes of  musical activity that were highly imitative--ie., exploring what I could do and learning by imitating other existing forms of music (largely in the pop and intellectual "avant-gardes" and from strong personalities I met in the underground).

Really this duality has never ceased in me as I've become more and more comfortable moving in zones where my own unreduced private experience and few "original ideas" bleed right into adopted musical ideas & possibilities suggested by other people--always attempting to enliven those pre-existing forms with whatever I can bring to them and to personalize them for my own growth.

To the extent I've developed and preserved what feels like private, languageless, pre-social viewpoints in some of my music, that has been most closely felt in some solo composition and in the better moments of my free improvisation, which became another major interest in the early 90's (because of its total emphasis on conscious experience in the moment). I also have found that the escape from personal encapsulation to be found in musical collaborations is of profound value in terms continually shaking up my conception of what is possible and good. Group improvisation also suggests new possibilities in social relationships.

Although I think my list of musical interests have only grown over the years (with little ever thrown off the cart), my experience of music also has broadened "qualitatively" tremendously on an unforeseen axis through contact with forms of activity that are less "conceptually top down" (in the sense of having an idea and then realizing it programatically) where the invention of the "content" has a blurrier, more circular relationship with the phenomenon of playing the music, technique, sensuality, emotion, trance, spiritual exaltation, etc. Among these, traditional Jazz, African, Indian, Gypsy, and Asian musics have been particularly powerful teachers--though I do not think these desired phases of experience are limited to existing idioms*. At the end of the day, as much as my music may almost always contain minority or personally eccentric approaches to structure, sound choices, technique, or even fundamental philosophical content--it is most satisfying to me when it also provides for me what I can get from the best ethnic music--the directness, emotional profundity, sense of connection to go along with the expanded sense of possibility that experimentation-for-its-own-sake implies.


--John Berndt, June 2007

* in general, I view idiomization as the slowing down of musical discovery (through a variety of means), primarily bringing value in the sense that a microscope or slow-motion playback might help to focus attention on more subtle factors and the precise tuning of smaller-scale relationships.