Who tells stories? The Narrator!
Okay… but who is the musical equivalent of the Narrator?
When the music involves only one person, the answer is simple: the performer. There’s no one else! Once you start involving more people, the answer gets a bit more complicated.
First things first. Strike the word “Accompanist” from your vocabulary. Not only is there no literary equivalent, but it does not even truly describe the nature of what that performer does. Without that performer, it is a completely different piece of music. Many pieces of music cannot even be performed without that performer.
That Sonata for Piano and Violin? Remove the piano and the sonata does not exist.
The Piano Concerto? Remove the orchestra and the concerto does not exist.
That SSAATTBB choral piece with Alto solo and piano accompaniment? Remove the choir and the piano and you have a different piece. Depending on how it is written, the alto may not even be able to sing it.
There are no such things as “accompanists”; they are collaborative performers!
Yes, I know that the “featured soloist” is often the center of attention and “aural focus”, but that does not mean that he or she is a more important factor in the music than everyone performing with them! The collaborators are equally important and vital contributors to musical storytelling and the listening experience. Without them, the story is completely different. Without them, the story may not even be able to be told!
They are there to interpret and support the music, NOT to make the soloist “shine”!
There’s no “Harry Potter” without Ron and Hermione. There’s no Star Wars without Leia, Han, and Chewy. There’s no Scooby Doo without Shaggy, Velma, Daphne, and Freddy. (Hanna Barbera tried in the 1980’s. It was baaaaad.)
I say this not to diminish the value of featured soloists or lead singers, but to correct a gross misunderstanding about how music is made and who makes it. Soloists are important, but they don’t “tell the entire story.” They may not be able to tell any of it on their own!
Stop treating Collaborative Performers like crap.
All the best,