Saying something by saying nothing…

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I’ve been talking a lot lately.  I mean a whole lot! During this self challenged 30 Days/30 Blogs, I’ve ‘forced’ myself to write about basically what’s been in my head for quite a long time.  For the first time of this experience, my mind has been blank.  Sure, I have my list of topics, some of which I have yet to write about, but some of the remaining few are going to take a little more legwork for me to put together.  Honestly, tonight has been rough.  Or has it?

The whole irony of this, is that this is the lesson.  Sometimes you don’t need to say anything.  Sometimes you just need to listen.  Sometimes you just need to be.  We’ve all heard the clichés: “Less is more; Keep it Simple, Stupid!” and on and on… Of course one of the most famous images representing this is of Miles Davis holding his finger up to his lips in the universal “shhh” pose.  How about John Cage’s 4:33?  If you’re not familiar with this, a famous composer named John Cage wrote a piece that lasts for 4 minutes and 33 seconds, where the performer is required to come onto the stage and not play anything; basically just sit there behind their instrument.   The idea behind it is that even though the performer isn’t playing their instrument, there’s still sound going on, whether it be someone coughing, an air conditioner running, or just moving air (which is basically what sound is).  The controversy is whether or not this could truly be considered “music” or if it’s just sound.  We’ll leave that discussion for another time.

In reality, the supposition that something can come out of nothing is really an error in logic.  However, in our case, we’re dealing with art where really, anything can be possible and logic is the other part of the brain.  I also believe that it’s a great object lesson in human behavior as well.  Hopefully by now you’ve learned that most of the time it’s better to listen to someone than to constantly be talking “at” people.  I’ve found that you can usually learn a lot more this way.

One thing that I tell students (as I have been told myself) is that the true mark of a good percussionist (or any musician for that matter) is knowing when NOT to play.  It’s about having the guts to actually either sit out a tune or part of a tune, or give your honest opinion to the producer in the studio that perhaps this tune doesn’t need any of your flair!  Let’s face it; we all want to play.  We’ve spent enough time practicing and buying this equipment, so why not use it, right?  There’s a time and place for that, but it must be balanced by a time for silence.

“Irony” seems to be the word of the day, as this blog in which the title touts ‘saying nothing’ has somehow found a way to be full of words!  So much for not saying anything, right?  So I’ll end it in a way that would perhaps make John Cage happy…pretend that there are 4 more paragraphs after this and let your mind…

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2 Responses to "Saying something by saying nothing…"
  1. 04/02/2011 20:33

    Don Prorak

    “Music is the space between the notes” – Claude Debussy

  2. 04/02/2011 20:35

    Don Prorak

    “The notes I handle no better than many pianists. But the pauses between the notes – ah, that is where the art resides!”
    – Arthur Schnabel (1882-1951)

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