Monday, October 13, 2008

No Dead Notes!

When you are really involved in the music, of any piece you are playing, there is no room for "dead notes." Dead notes are ones that are not musically connected.

When, for example, a conductor says, "Get out of the way; that part is not important," the player, in my mind, needs to be careful about fostering an attitude that says, "Lay back and just stay out of the way." This is not a musical approach!

A visual example of what I'm saying might be: If you are in a car or on a train trip and there, in the background, are some beautiful mountains. The are not part of the main road or train tracks, or even part of the close up scenery, but the mountains, in all their glory, are still a part of the scene--they are just in the distance. Imagine if someone took a grey blanket and thew it over them, or, someone Photoshopped them "out of the way."

That approach ignores that the mountains are a valid, and living, part of the scene. But they are; they are still mountains, even at a distance! They are still 'ALIVE'!

When there is a part in your music (let's say in an orchestral piece) that, obviously, is not the main theme, it still can be played with significance, because it is part of the living fabric of the sonic texture and musical atmosphere and environment. Can you imagine a fine chamber music group not treating each note with importance and contextual support?

Whatever part you have, make sure you play it with connection to the music and be at full with it, no matter what it is. It does make a difference!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


What an articulate way to describe something we as musicians/trombonists experience all the time. Thanks for the insight, I will be sure to think back to this next time a conductor asks me to 'back off'.

-Matt Nelson