Thursday, October 4, 2012

Less is more, part 2.

During some of the downtime of the past annual concert, I was talking with our Lighting Designer.  He told me about a conversation he had years ago with a bluegrass musician.  During a discussion about bluegrass, the musician said, “it’s not about what you play, it’s about what you don't play.”

Let’s apply that to you, dear reader.  Instead of thinking about what you play, how are you defined by what you don’t?  How can not doing something make you a better performer/artist?  This post ties in a lot with my recent post about making your solos stand out, but doesn’t only apply to solos.

We can take this to a detailed level and look at specific patterns or notes. In a world where a lot of people play triplets during their solos, choosing purposefully not to do them speaks to your style.

Step back a level, and we can look at the visuals.  The moves you don’t do are only effective when presented against other people that do them a lot.  This is contrast, much like with musical patterns.  But even in terms of just what you do, like only angular or only flowing movements, a style is formed.

Another step back and we can look at style itself.  Never looking serious during a solo can define you.  So can never being predictable – but that’s a fine line, because if you’re never predictable, THAT’S predictable!

There’s also compositions, for those of you who either craft your solos or write whole pieces.  Some people never repeat the same pattern or section twice.  Other people might never do the same solo twice!  (That's hard, by the way…It doesn’t even have to be about the music either.  A composer might never fail to mention that someone gave them permission to write a piece, or leave out nothing (in other words, too much information!)

And finally, there’s behavior.  If someone is never late to practice, that defines them.  If someone never has an unkind word to say about someone, that defines them as well. 

Of course, the negatives apply as well, to all of the above examples.  Maybe a player never puts in any space (ma) during a solo, or never moves their arms away from the drum, or never changes their expression, or never changes their solo, or never arrives on time, etc.  Doing any of these doesn’t automatically make someone a bad person/player, but it does shape the narrative of who they are.

You can argue whether thought or deed defines a person more, but sometimes what’s not thought or done has just as much impact sometimes!

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