Sunday, December 2, 2007

The Most Important Acoustic, Part 1

As a musician, one can develop a feeling for playing in different spaces. Some places feel dry in their resonance, others might feel very boomy. There are many variations on this theme. And like most anything else, we have our preferences.

I have played in many concert halls throughout the world. I have played in many practice rooms throughout the country and abroad. Where do I like to play the most? Wherever there is a supportive acoustic. It can be outside or in a small room with a pet. Or at a relative's house with people who really are appreciative of what I do. Does the nature of an individual piece of music require a supportive acoustic to give it a chance to come alive? That is a fascinating question which we will look into soon.

To start with, I'm sure different music might call for different environments. That would make for a challenging recital! "Ok, we will play this piece in this hall and that piece over there," ...not very practical! This is where our minds can play a key role in influencing the ecology we play into.

If we are playing alone or even with others, we can alter our own "inner acoustics." This can be done by imagining you are playing in another space than the one you are in, more to do with feeling that space inside yourself. We all have a variety of experiences we can draw upon and can replay them. You also can develop this to the point where others can feel your 'creation.'

And this brings us to a vital point. If you are playing for other people, what they generate, in terms of their thoughts, creates an acoustical overlay that can override the physical acoustics of a concert hall. So why not tune the audience? Certain music cannot be received if there is not a place made to receive it. Any farmer, gardener, teacher or therapist knows this simple fact. There needs to be an opening for something whether it is a plant, new learning, advice or music to be received. That is the first step. Better still is having the 'soil' be fertile so when that something is received, it can take root and grow.

Many pop groups have a loyal fan base. When they come on stage to perform, the audience is very supportive and open to what the group will do. The group feels welcome and appreciated from the get-go. Great place to start. But even in those circumstances, I'm sure it can take time to be in a fully in-tune state between audience and performers.

Carol and I have found that speaking to the audience about the music creates a place where the music can be appreciated more by the listener. Telling someone about the harmonic construction of a piece might be of interest to a few people. But, to a lot of the audience, hearing what a piece is about helps them to translate and understand the sounds that they will hear.

The other benefit of speaking to the audience is you have created an atmospheric acoustic which will give the music a path to flow through without as much resistance. This is a subtle science but can be so easily developed and proven if there is the desire. More to come on some practical steps to opening up this subject shortly. Stay tuned!

1 comment:

Ross said...

This post reminds me about something I've heard a lot of people say:

"Don't get nervous. The audience doesn't want you to mess up...they want you to play well!"

But no matter how much the audience wants you to play well, they usually don't know how to help you (or they don't even know that they can help you).

I feel that by "tuning" my audiences, I can show them how to help me play well and tap into a valuable resource, while at the same time helping them to enjoy the music even more.