Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Listening Past Loneliness

Today was a step forward in playing with one another.  It is a terribly preoccupying thing for a musician; to play together means to be truly listening and understanding.  In some ways, it is a measure of overcoming that impossible reality in life, loneliness.  Is there someone who understands me, is there someone I can trust?  And to what extent can that be true?  To the degree that each of us is truly unique, it is difficult to find an understanding of one another.  But if two people can find an understanding of time and pitch and all the characters and colors that come from it, something has been overcome, some unity in the face of nature's diversity.  It is a sense of comfort to come so close to others.  One must allow a certain degree of vulnerability to share such a space; to be willing to be understood and to understand at the same time.  There is no end to searching for it.  It can feel as simple and as good as tapping one's foot in time to a recording, or singing with others; and can become as complicated as coordinating oneself to perform the fine motor skills required to play an orchestral instrument expressively and sensitively with seventy other people.

And that such a thing can be taught and refined seems a miracle.  Today, in my desire to understand the components of yesterday's wanting, I discovered a new focus, that of the concertmaster's sense of time.  Each person has a unique way of anticipating and reacting to events in time, and one can observe another and become better at assessing how they do so.  Our concertmaster plays very close to his own cues, but quite late to the conductor's.  This is a unique expression of time that isn't shared by everyone, but can be learned if one is willing to see it and accept it.  But in order to make use of the information, it is also important to know one's own sense of anticipation and reaction, something that would seem inherent, but isn't necessarily so.  How does my sense of time fit with another's?  How does my sense of perception and reaction work with another's?  Coming to know oneself, coming to know another, practicing respect of both so that one can clearly see what is there and approach it and play with it.  Is it possible to overcome the barrier of self?  I think there are moments.

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