Music is a story; how do you tell it?
Do you have kids?
I do not. The closest I have are a nephew and two goddaughters that I gladly returned to their parents. Have you ever told a story or read a book to a child? Do you remember when others read to you? Do you remember how they read to you?
All stories have shape. There are places that rise, fall, hit HARD, zoom like a cheetah, or grind to a halt and just sit. A good storyteller takes all of this into account when preparing. Not only do these shifts happen over the course of the entire story, but even within the span of one or two sentences. (Macro vs. micro.)
Music is the same. Have you ever watched an orchestra or choir director? They stand in front and wave batons. Here’s the untold secret: they aren’t just counting beats. They are telling their collaborators when to play/sing, how quickly, how loudly, how long, and everything in between.
Some notes are quiet and deliberate. Others are loud and frantic. Often, both happen at the same time. Sometimes certain notes just POP out! A nice mixture keeps listeners engaged and adds interest. There is another reason, though.
Music is a conversation. The Latin Percussion section may announce the coro and pregon. The cellos and violas may speak as one. The trombones may shout down the saxophones. The tenors may mimic the altos. Even on a single instrument such as the piano, two parts of a conversation may be played by the same hand!
Music reflects human dialogue. Performers interpret music by working out how to express these emotions and nuances, often in the moment in front of a live audience!
Ever told the story of Red Riding Hood? Perhaps you imitated Red’s innocently high-pitched voice when speaking to “Grandma.” Maybe the next time you told it, “Grandma” growled and cackled when she said “THE BETTER TO EAT YOU WITH, MY DEAR!”
Music is the same. Good musicians “speak” through their instruments. It is the difference between a beginner and a seasoned concertmaster running through Mendelssohn. Making the instrument “speak” is what we call “musicality.”
Stew on that until next time!
All the best,
TKP – 2/14/23