Resonating in harmony
by Terry Camsey, Major –
Many years ago, I frequently heard euphonium and trombone players doing the impossible…playing one note yet producing a chord. Unachievable you’d think, but they would play a low note (the root of a chord), hum the fifth above at the same time, and then—quite clearly—the third of the chord could be heard simultaneously.
Music has always been a passion of mine, the medium through which I can best communicate with my creator and feel at one with him.
Music can be expressed as vocal or instrumental sounds or the written signs representing the sound.
What is pleasing to one is not necessarily pleasing to another. Dissonance (Schoenberg) can be jarring, or it can be pleasing (Glenn Miller); it all has to do with balance and blend—or the deliberate lack of such.
The challenge is getting what is in the head, mind and soul of the composer into the head and mind of the listener, without performers getting in the way. On paper, music notes can represent duration and pitch…and music symbols and other notation can indicate pace, style and intended interpretation. Yet one can play every mark on that piece of paper and still not make music because written notes and symbols cannot alone capture its spirit and soul.
Music is only created when the printed copy is transformed through communion with the spirit of the composer. When the music notes and symbols fade into the background and its soul is released, only then can communication between composer and listener fully take place.
We, the interpreters of written music, can be but imperfect vessels (instruments) through which the message flows. The composer has no fingers, lips or lungs but ours. It behooves us, therefore, to hone our skills so that they do not detract or stand in the way of the writer’s message.
We must not add to the composer’s message what he did not intend to include, and we must not leave anything out. It was, I believe, renowned English conductor Sir Malcolm Sargent who said, “There are no unimportant notes in music, just as there are no unimportant people in life.”
If you have been following my train of thought, you may have already discerned a parallel with the Christian life, where the Bible is the printed score and we are but instruments to discover God’s message for ourselves and pass it on to others. To do that we need to be inspired, to let the master breathe through us.
Incidentally, the phenomena I mentioned at the start has an uncanny similarity to the concept of the trinity—with three in one, all inspired by our creator. Could he do the same for us, multiplying our influence as he breathes through us, causing us to resonate in rich harmony with him?
Let the music play…sing the happy song.