Tangerine Music Labs had the honor of meeting the legendary cellist, Yo Yo Ma earlier in the year. Unknown to most who know him as a classical cello performer, Mr. Ma is a very adept improviser and has utilized those skills in his cross-cultural music projects such as The Silk Road Project. This event was hosted by University of Southern California’s Brain and Creativity Institute (where Mr. Ma sits on board), where he and Dr. Antonio Damasio spent some time discussing the intersections of science, psychology, and music. A write-up about the event can be found here.
Yo Yo Ma described the act of improvising as a matter of “life or death” — psychologically, he said that the mindset that performers go through when improvising is similar to the intensity people bring when they’re fighting in war, or are madly in love. The two also discussed about the edge effect: in ecosystems and environments, the most fertile areas of biological evolutions can be found in the “edges” where two or more habitat systems collide, producing a much larger pool of biodiversity and environmental change. Many of the lessons found in nature could also be applied to the process of music-making, they argued, since they saw the two as being intrinsically related to one another.
Ryan has also written an article here, relating the event to trends that have been happening in the technology industry, politics, and culture in recent years.