Begbie on Improvisation, Christian freedom, and a “Restful Restlessness”
“First-rate improvisation is marked by a restful restlessness. We are freed from the anxiety of having to create structure from scratch, forms which will give meaning to the improvisation—we don’t have to ‘make it happen’ we can entrust ourselves to the given. At the same time (or rather, with and through time!) we are freed by these very structures for music-making with endlessly fruitful possibilities.
We are speaking here of the shape of Christian freedom—a restful restlessness. By being given in Christ the firm stability of divine grace, the ‘gentle rhythm’ to be learned and endlessly re-learned, we are freed from having to ‘make it happen,’ […] freed from having to fabricate authentic human being. And yet this very gift liberates us for a life of joyful (not anxious) restlessness, a perilous ‘emptying of our hands’ for the sake of music of limitless interest and variety, in the knowledge that failure has in a sense already been accounted for and future error will in some manner be taken up.” (Theology, Music and Time, pp. 244-45).