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Editorial Musings with Basil Ramsey

The silent partner


Considering music we hear without listening

Overhearing a brass band in a nearby park recently, I mused on the ever-changing aural perspective as the source of sounds was static whilst I was moving around. It is a familiar experience generally, yet each one is unique to the hearer.

Furthermore, if I was motionless whilst the band paraded around me, the sound would reach my ears with an identifiable pattern. I then took to generalising the concept and noting the endless variation of sound pictures that emerge in differing circumstances.

All of us are subject to such phenomena every day, but the extent of it dulls our perception. Only if we move out of the familiar do our senses appear to sharpen, which seems to me a useful exercise, and to us as musicians an essential tool in the struggle to maintain contact with a performance, particularly of unfamiliar music. I reckon that my success in this field is no more than average. It is hard for us as musicians to admit (just to ourselves!) a constant battle with the distractions surrounding music in performance.

I recall years ago attending a superb orchestral concert with a friend. At the interval I went into raptures over the music and performance, but he blinked and admitted to a long and worshipful gaze at a young lady in the seats behind the orchestra. His sigh said it all: music was a silent partner on this occasion!

Copyright © 1 August 2002 Basil Ramsey, Eastwood, Essex, UK



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