Monday, 10 July 2017

The joy of sound, the joy of silence

Beethoven's 7th Symphony. Have you ever listened to it? It's very dramatic, a stunning piece of work... Beethoven himself described it as "one of my best works".... but he wrote it in 1811-1812 at a time when he had become almost completely deaf. Makes you think, doesn't it... the composer could hear what he wanted in his mind, and was able to translate it onto a written score, although he could never hear it for real... certainly it brings home just how much we value our hearing. About a year ago I lost my sense of smell, which also severely affects the ability to taste. I do just count myself lucky that it wasn't my hearing or my sight that has gone AWOL! Playing and listening to music is so very important to me.

I also value silence... real silence. My (Long Suffering) Husband has to have noise around him most of the time. He will have music playing in his work room, a radio on in the kitchen, and the TV may well be on in the living room. I can live with this... well, most of the time! He also enjoys the radio on during the night, something I can't tolerate so he has to use earphones. His need for sound is different from mine. And sometimes when I'm home alone, like right now, I enjoy the peace of having no radio, no deliberate noise, just the silence, peace and quiet. But it's the yin and yang, the black and white, the contrast, the fulfilment of different needs at the time.

On a holiday to Tunisia some years ago, we went on a wonderful three day trip south to the Sahara. We saw some amazing sights on the road south... a Roman coliseum, (El Jem) oases, miles and miles and miles of olive plantations, and shimmering, endless multi-coloured salt flats... but the thing that probably made the greatest impression on me was the utter silence of the Saharan dunes. I remember sitting there at the top of a dune, the other trippers around me, and each one of us was in total awe as we gazed at the landscape of the dunes, and listened to the sound of silence.

No sound. nothing, not at all... no traffic in the distance, no birds... not even, that day, a breath of wind.

And no one spoke, for several minutes. It would have been a sort of desecration.

The introduction of sound into silence, and vice versa, is a hugely important and effective part of musical composition and performance. Dynamics, variety in the volume of the music, is directly related to this, and it's something that I know I don't pay enough attention to as a player. But today I vow that I will, in future.

So that's my thought for the day. Sound and silence. Now I'm going to make myself a coffee before LSH comes home and switches on the radio! Silence is sometimes golden. Just sometimes... but I do recommend Beethoven's 7th if you've never heard it! To think that we can hear it, where he never could...

Thanks for joining me for a few minutes. I appreciate it. I won't be gone too long....

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HI! I hope you enjoy this blog and I'd love to hear your comments! But I know you'll forgive me if I read them over before I click the "publish" button! Thanks!