In our society we celebrate leaders and we often build up strong relationships with our fellow followers. We stare in awe at conductors that are in complete control of the orchestra or choir they conduct. We feel a sense of wonder when we listen to a virtuoso. We like to see control. It gives us comfort and security.
“He was in total control of the instrument.”
“The orchestra followed his every gesture.”
“The audience parted with a generous sum of money to witness the glorious rendition of Goldberg.”
“The supporters of Real Madrid gave a standing ovation to Ronaldinho, as he scored his second goal against his arch enemies.”
We all know this. We are in the time of more. More is better.
Holding up the ball fifty times, is better than holding up the ball forty times. Faster, louder, higher, longer, more, more, more, more. Never content.
More! More is our God.
It controls what videos on YouTube we will watch. Who in their right mind is going to watch a video that has only two views? We rather watch a video with two million views, that only serves to waste our time, than to give a change to something that has not already been approved by the masses. We look at bestseller lists for guidance on what books to give our loved ones as a birthday present. We look at Oscar nominations because we feel safer when films have been approved, rather than giving an obscure film a change. We feel a sense of unease when we see photos of an almost empty concert hall applauding a lonely pianist.
“What a pity, the pianist was not approved.”
We rather follow the masses to our doom, rather than opening our eyes and asking us questions if that is really music?
Is it really music if a hundred individuals get paid for playing notes together?
Is it alive?
Does it have meaning?
Our ears have been trained to listen to a consistent sound and it has lost the talent to perceive the richness in expression that a slightly “flawed” intonation can bring us. Our ears have been trained to look for consistent 16th notes to the point that no note can stick out and no note can disappear. They must sound the same, all the time. We have lost the sense of individual elements coming together to create a greater whole than the sum of its parts.
Articulation has been reduced to individual choices and is no longer governed by universal laws. We have been trained to go as smoothly as possible from one perfect sound to the next. Our training though has not prepared us to ask the question of relationship between the two sounds.
Is the tension, that appears when a contrasting note is played, introvert, in the sense of belonging to the past, or extrovert, in the sense of belonging to the future?
What emotions are triggered when we play such an interval, whether it is a melodic one or a rhythmical one?
What is beyond the emotion?
What is it in this that is shared by all?
What is it in this that is uniquely perceived by you?
Can you allow yourself to be guided by your emotions while also not being guided by your emotions?
Can you allow yourself to believe everything you have ever been told, and not believe it at the same time?
Can you be two things at the same time?
We have been trained to be separate clogs in a machine that claims to be musical, but it everything but. We train specialists. Instrumentalists today have more control over their instrument than ever before. Composers today are composing the most adventurous music in our lifetime. The consequence of this hunt for a specific perfection has created the atmosphere that nobody understands anybody else.
Tuba players talk about breathing, all the time.
Trumpet players talk about mouthpieces, all the time.
Trombonists debate over Christian Lindberg or Joe Alessi, all the time.
Horn players are just too busy to empty water from their horns to have time to talk, all the time.
The demands on each instrument are so great that a normal human being does not have brain capacity to really get to know more than a couple of instruments.
Is that a bad thing?
I do not claim to know. I just see that it exists in our universe, for good or for bad.
Even if I am not interested by a certain performance, it does not mean it is a bad performance, it just means that it did not attract me.
So, I am not judging.
I am simply seeing what is there, knowing that my seeing is conditioned by all my experiences in this life and all the others. I am simply using the tools that are at my disposal to learn about what I am seeing. I am in return simply sharing it with whoever happens to read these words.
We all have something to share.
Be brave and share your truth. But be aware. There is no such thing as absolute truth.
Only relative truth. What is true today might evolve into a lie tomorrow. True leadership is to tell the truth, while being aware that it might be a lie. True leadership is to be a follower at the same time. Transcend the duality that governs us. Many years ago, there was an Icelandic tv commercial that was advertising Cheerio’s and Honey Nut Cheerios.
In the commercial two boys were talking to each other and one asked the other:
“Which do you prefer? Cheerios or Honey Nut Cheerios?”
The other boy replied:
“I prefer both.”
So, I am asking you to do the same.
Embrace it all.
Embrace the truth and embrace the lies.
Do not take a stand.
You will truly be somebody.