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