February 2, 2010

Make Sure You Count!

Music certainly encompasses the notes, but it also includes the silences, the relationships between the notes and each other, as well as the relationship of the notes to the not-notes (or silences). Sometimes, as harp players, we become inured to the silence - we get so little of it with our wonderful resonant instruments. Harps love to keep on playing and that lovely sound "hanging around" may make us lazy - it's easy to get away with not counting.

But it is essential to be true to the melody, share the message, communicate with our listeners. An essential element in that communication is time. Be aware of the full times and the empty times - and don't rush through them (or become a sonic squatter and languish in between).

Counting can be a challenge when you first begin to actively use it. Time is challenging but it can be so rewarding! It will help you audience follow you message, it will make playing with other musicians a greater joy, and it will help ensure your tune is what the original composer meant it to be.

I'm not advocating rigid adherence to the beat - espeically if you're engaged in a particularly poignant piece in which expression is conveyed with each toying of the time. After all, a Lament needs to convey sorrow but it should never be lamentable!

You must learn to count and to maintain that counting. Only when you have mastered this tool of communication can you begin to modify its application as appropriate.
So, stand up for music - make sure you count!

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