This series has centered on the metaphor of Music as a Story. The first entry loosely compared musical shape and literary form. The second entry was about performance and interpretation in terms of story-telling. Music is a conversation! On the third post, I aimed at the “centrality” of the main soloist. Stories cannot be told if the main character is not interacting with people or an environment! All performers serve a purpose toward the music. Last week, I focused on Musical Directors, who are the main story-tellers and interpreters that coordinate the action of all of the performers.
The question then becomes “What is the purpose of the performers?”
MUSIC is the STORY. The people that perform it? They are not the characters, but rather they portray the (musical) characters.
People are not interchangeable. They may have talents and skills that overlap to a degree, but they are unique individuals that bring different gifts to the roles they “play.” Celine Dion and Leontyne Price are both sopranos, but they cannot be swapped out for the same songs! By doing so, you are ignoring their strengths and utility of their instruments. You are dismissing the roads they’ve traveled and the struggles they have overcome. (Yes… That artistic journey is a part of their performance!) People are not Plug N’ Play pieces!
On the stage, everyone from the lead singer to the backup choir to the three-year-old waiting to play her triangle has a purpose to serve the music and portray its characteristics! When the elements are shifted around, it also alters the nature, tone, and the pacing of the story. It may be necessary to tell it a different way!
Our society has a tendency – based on gross ignorance of music-making – to elevate the performers of “sexy” roles onto platforms and minimize (or even dismiss) the contributions of the “grunts” who set the stage. It creates willfully-ignorant and entitled artists and weakens the overall structure that initially supported them.
Understand what and who it takes to make music and tell the story before you start handing out awards and pink slips.
All the best,
TKP – 3/8/23