The state of flow is a term used in different practices ranging from sports to the creative arts, but what does the state of flow truly mean in music, and why do I love it so much? There are many different answers to this, but the main reason is that it provides you with an out‑of‑body, almost spiritual experience. This particular experience can be seen through the eyes of both the creator and the audience.
So what do we mean by the state of flow? Is it effortlessness? Is it related to space and time? Is it achieving positive results without really thinking about it? I believe it is a combination of all the above elements. One of the best things about the state of flow is that it is individually tailored to each specific individual. There is no one right answer, and another person may have a completely different perception of the state of flow compared to mine. That’s why I love it. It’s so vague, yet so deep in meaning.
When the state of flow is apparent, there are no rules and anything can happen...
My definition of the state of flow, personally and from a music perspective, is when everything is in perfect synergy with everything else and the force is so powerful and interlinked that nothing can stop it, and I mean nothing. An example of this that I experienced personally was a Ricardo Villalobos DJ set. I had seen him perform before, but this time, it was different. It felt like a special energy was in the room, and every track he mixed in felt like they were all in a living room sipping the finest of Colombian coffee whilst engaging in a deep meaningful conversation. A specific example was when he faded in A Homeboy, A Hippie & A Funki Dredd’s early rave classic ‘Total Confusion’ and chopped it in and out with a Latin Bossa Nova track.
This, on paper, should not work, but when the state of flow is apparent there are no rules and anything can happen, thus creating beautiful unexplained moments of joy. Jazz has been associated with the ambiguous concept of the state of flow for decades. Some people even consider the state to be supernatural and at worst demonic. And although you may feel I am going too far here, ask yourself: Why do some of the best pieces of music seem to happen completely by accident? Is there an unexplainable spirit? I’ll leave you the reader to think about that for a second.