September 18, 2011

A Boat Ride With Barenboim

Posted in Uncategorized at 09:12 by Miracle

If one is fond of reading and reflecting, slow, overnight boat rides are not exactly as torturous as some deem them to be.  Nevertheless, I have to admit that they cause one to feel quite lonely.  I go through them twice every month.  And yet I subject myself to these trips for a very worthy cause – Music.  Piano and music theory lessons, occasional violin lessons, and rehearsals with the Cebu Symphony Orchestra are what await me. As soon as I am engaged in them, they make the loneliness I feel, during these boat rides, of no consequence.

Through the kindness of my constant book donor and bestfriend (Franz), I was blessed enough to have a marvellous companion last night:  Daniel Barenboim’s Everything is Connected, The Power of Music.  If there is any piece of written work aside from the Bible that is supposed to be ideal as an accompaniment to the happenings in my life right now, it would be this. It confirms a lot of my formerly unfounded beliefs about life and music, and it establishes the conviction that one can, and should, live life as a musical process with an ample balance of passion and discipline, emotion and reason – and not just as an individual, but also in relation to the people who surround us. Barenboim, in my humble opinion, also holds the most wonderful and powerful views regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – a topic which I, for quite a long time now, surprisingly care for.  Barenboim reminds us that conflict and opposition are also part of what constitute music and harmony.  Above all, he prompts us of what we musicians have known all along but keep forgetting, music gives us hope.


“Expressiveness in music comes from the linkage of notes, what we call in Italian legato, which means nothing other than bound. This dictates that the notes cannot be allowed to develop their natural egos, becoming so dominant that they overshadow the preceeding one. Each note must be aware of itself but also of its own boundaries; the same rules that apply to individuals in society apply to notes in music as well. When one plays five legato notes, each fights against the power of silence that wants to take its life, and therefore stands in relation to the notes that precede and follow it. Each note cannot be self-assertive, wanting to be louder than the notes preceding it; if it did, it would defy the nature of the phrase to which it belongs. A musician must possess the capacity to group notes. This very simple fact has taught me the relationship between an individual and a group. It is necessary for the human being to contribute to society in a very individual way; this makes the whole much larger than the sum of its parts. Individuality and collectivism need not be mutually exclusive; in fact, together they are capable of enhancing human existence.”

“…even the most powerful chord should be played so that it allows the inner voices to be heard; otherwise it lacks tension and depends exclusively on brutal, aggressive force. One must be able to hear the opposition, the notes that oppose the main idea.”

“Every conflict has the potential to bring about positive changes if the individuals involved in it are able to understand the legitimacy of the opposing side’s arguments , sometimes even allowing these arguments to enhance their own way of thinking. “

“…in music, force is not power, something which many of the world’s political leaders do not perceive.  The difference between power and force is equivalent to the difference between volume and intensity in music.  When one speaks with a musician and says to him, ‘You are not playing intensely enough,’ his first reaction is to play it louder.  And it is exactly the opposite: the lower the volume, the greater the need for intensity, and the greater the volume, the greater need for a calm force in the sound.”

“In music, there are no independent elements.  How often we think, on a personal, social, or political level, that there are certain independent things and that, upon doing them, they will not influence others or that this interconnection will remain hidden.  This does not occur in music, because in music everything is interconnected.  The character and intention of the simplest melody change drastically with a complex harmony.  That is learned through music, not through political life.  Thus emerges the impossibility of separating elements, the perception that everything is connected, the need always to unite logical thought and intuitive emotion.”


See you later, CSO! =)

Filed under Life Betwixt Book Covers

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