Letting Things Settle

Sometimes, you have initiated so much activity that it would not be useful to initiate more. The steps that are in process, have to be completed before you can initiate another set of steps without unsettling what you have previously put into motion. In part, this is because there are always dependencies in life. In other words, something has to be completed before the next action can reasonably and securely take place.

There is only so much parallel activity that can occur, no matter how impatient or how good you are at multitasking. Because there are other people involved and other processes beyond your control once they have been initiated, it’s kind of like playing the piano. Once you have struck a key, and the hammer flies through the air before it impinges upon the string or set of strings that will be sounding, there’s nothing you can do because you have lost control of the sound production process.

There is a trade-off to be made. There are many instruments where you do not lose control of the process once initiating a note has occurred. In fact, this is true of most instruments. All of the instruments that are blown, such as woodwinds and brass, are said to have a driving function. This means that when you begin to blow, the instrument sound comes out, which you can hear, and then you can modify that sound by changing the pitch and the level. This is not true with a piano. It is, however, true for all of the strength instruments but not quite as true as the wind and brass instruments. When a note is initiated on a guitar or any other fretted instrument, there is still the possibility of applying vibrato while you are listening to this note. In instruments that are bowed, such as the violin, a musician can change both the duration of the note, the volume of the note, and the pitch of the note in a similar manner to those instruments that are blown.

And here’s the trade-off on the piano: you can play 10 notes at once but lose control over all of them. Once they are sounded, and on the instruments where you can play one note at a time that is bowed or blown, you can only play one note at a time with that much control over each note. So you have the choice between detailed control of expression and simultaneity that supports complexity.

In other words, you can either have harmony or expression unless, of course, you get more people involved, as in an ensemble, a band, or an orchestra. Sometimes this is when you have to let things settle because you are not in control of everything, as there are others involved. And that is when you have to let things settle or normally become frustrated yourself but frustrate everyone else in the process.