Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Musical Imagination

I was discussing beginning notes with the idea of friction between the string and the bow with an 9-year-old student yesterday, and the concept of a match strike came up. Now this young man has never actually struck a match himself, but he’s seen his mother do it, and he certainly understands what a match strike is.

The musical result was pretty dramatic, and it made his Lully Gavotte leap from the mundane to the downright exciting.

I mentioned to him that in music we can have things in our imagination that we would (or should) never actually act out in real life. Think about it! The musical imagination is as rich as the imagination we bring to our dreams. What goes on “behind the scenes” is really nobody’s business but our own, and the resulting musical phrases are transmitted as pure expression and energy. Nobody has to know what you're thinking about. Actually, nobody can know what you're thinking about.

The imagination of the individual musician is what makes every musical performance unique, and the application of imagination to musical performance is a far safer method of self expression than some of the alternatives that young people (and not so young people) choose to use.

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