top of page

Mastering Chaos: The Performer's Way

There is something about the way music is created and performed which can help all of us work and play better together.

We can look at "The Musician's Way" from two points of view: the way it's performed and the way it's created.

Here we take a look at how we humans use our natural ability with sound to create music.

Here, the Formal/Informal & the Reason/Emotion ranges still apply (see the complete model) and the states are still present except that we've renamed them.


18th century Classical music has a considerable degree of Structure about it. 19th Century Romantic music can by many to be said to both passionate and inspiring due to its concern for individual personal expression. Jazz has a strong Challenging ingredient especially so because of its strong association with protest. True Improvisation is completely free and has all the characteristics of spontaneity and free play.  

So you can see that music in all its varied styles exists across the interplay of communal structure and human emotional and rational traits. Equally it's important to keep in mind that the four states are not separate. They all have a relationship to each other, and at their healthiest, each will have elements of the other states. As an example, many musicians are no doubt concerned to perform classical music with considerable accuracy. However without a sense of 'play' the output could easily be quite dull and boring. Paradoxically, in free improvisation, it is quite surprising just how often structure emerges even though one wouldn't necessarily expect it. Jazz, despite the sense of freedom it embodies, is surprisingly highly structured, however there is a strong challenge to convention about it.  Romantic music lives off Classical music's form. It uses the structure and the process of classical music to create huge tensions. It does this by stretching the forms, enlarging the array of instrumentation and, most importantly, uses increased dissonance and subsequent resolution to heighten tension and invoke emotional bliss.


Click on the images to see Youtube video examples. (Do remember that everyone's taste is different.)









Copyright © 2023 Andrew Hodges & Philippa Lowe

The Mastering Chaos: The Musician's Way Model is based on the interaction between two ranges of human behaviour:

Formal - Informal

Reason - Emotion


The Formal - Informal range describes how humans might respond to each other in groups. It has the potential to range from the highly-controlled across to the anarchic.


The Reason - Emotion range describes the potential resources we each have available to us when we want to make decisions.  It ranges from the strictly rational, evidence-based scientific approach right across to the way we get a 'sense' of something, we might just take a guess at what's happening, and even the mystical. This also includes the mental space of believing something is 'right' even when we're wrong.

By combining decision-making with levels of group formality or informality it is possible to define four STATES which appear everywhere in music. This is helpful because we can readily witness these states through listening to and playing music. Beyond music, whilst they are still present, they may not seem so accessible. They show the broad spread of human interaction and influence.  It encompasses both the best and, if we over-step the mark in any direction, the worst of us.

bottom of page