Last entry I told you that there was a time when my primary reason to play music/trumpet was to try to make people think well of me. Well, I don't want to give the impression that that is all a thing of the past. I still struggle with wanting people to think well of me. Don't you?
Well look, it is indeed a shallow reason to play, but doesn't that mean that it is shallow reason to listen as well? The reverse would be when we listen to music to be impressed. Said another way it is when you listen with the attitude of a judge. You see there are popular shows that have as their backbone the judging of musicians by a small panel and by national audiences.
Look, there is absolutely nothing wrong with having an ear for music so to know when something is in tune, of sound rhythm, and of good pitch. That is necessary for music making and has the possibility of enriching the listening experience in the same way that knowing more vocabulary words opens you up to richer literature. What is happening is that we are using our ears to judge instead of being able to enjoy.
Is music still music if you hear errors?
I played taps today. If there is one song that I never want to make a mistake in it has to be taps. It is not a difficult piece for a professional to play, but everyone seams familiar with it,and you are quite exposed. The emotions in the room were high as the man was a veteran who surrendered to Christ in his last days battling cancer at the pleading of his faithful daughter, who was passionately speaking for the family.
Let me tell you what you might have heard in a judging manner. I did not like the attack I got on the 16th note. It wasn't quite as perky and clear as the other 23. Also I could argue that vibrato is not historically used in the performance of taps and perhaps that should not have been part of the performance.
If you were the one catching those details, than how would that make you feel? Now I know those are small details, but I'm trying to prove a point here without bringing up a time where I really messed up big time. (Still trying to impress, right?)
Now let me tell you what I was saying when playing taps. I was expressing death's power over the body, solemnly pronouncing the end of the days of a man. At the height I let the note linger and emoted the finest tone I could muster without getting loud enough or vibrant enough to break the the sober veil. At the end I held the note long, steady like death and then added slight vibrato with a slow crescendo and decrescento so that it would give a hint of the glory of heaven that awaited this man in Heaven. Then the note went to a flat tone before ending.
Now the listening experiences of the audience may have differed from my performers viewpoint. To some the top not may have expressed victory. To another the pacing may have been too slow as they were uncomfortable anyhow in a stiff pew.
What is the reason you play, and what is the reason you listen?