Musical Conversation Import

Day 147 Week 21 Q2 Sunday, May 28, 2023

The importance of conversation in creativity is difficult to overestimate. It is the interchange of ideas that is the richest conversation. This is especially true when it comes to music. A musical monologue is nowhere near as interesting as a musical dialogue. The interchange between the instruments mirrors the interchange between two people who speak the same language having a conversation. If what each musician does it’s not affected by what the other musicians they are playing with emit, then they can be replaced by artificial intelligence. If the musicians are staring at each other, and not at a page of printed music, fully listening and fully seeing and doing this in the presence of an audience. Then there’s at least a three-way conversation going on. And to me, this is far more interesting than a group of musicians staring at dots on a page instead of attempting to have a relationship with the audience and each other.

Although the orchestra is one of the most magnificent inventions of humanity, sometimes just a duo can be more exciting for me. I personally am interested in the variation, not the recapitulation of what already exists. I do not deny how wonderful through-composed classics are played over and over again for hundreds of years, but for me, when they have already been recorded 100 or 1000 times, it is not worth my effort to add another one to the smorgasbord. This is because I have no expectation of exceeding a hundred years of performances already performed. On the other hand, a dialogue between two musicians who are less perfect in their capability is far more exciting because there is a risk. It may not come out perfectly, and this is quite all right with me, for the risk makes it human for me. I can program a machine to play perfectly, and many do, but it sounds sterile. It sounds just as bad as when you turn the piano to precisely the right pitches as mathematically calculated, which I have done as a younger man.

Great piano tuners do not adhere to mathematically perfect pitches. They stretch the intervals, adjust for the specific capabilities of the piano, and are not perfect, but they are magnificent. It is the conversation between the tuner and the instrument that makes something really come to life. The conversation between the composer and the performer, the cello and the viola, or the flute and the piano is exciting for me. Yes, and the orchestra is exciting, too, for there are different choruses within an orchestra.

There are choruses of woodwinds, brass, strings and percussion. There can and should be a dialogue between them. When there is not, it is not as interesting to me. Neither is a speech prepared as a monologue where the speaker is not paying attention to how the audience feels.

Conversational dialogue is where it’s at for me.