Human beings are always forced to cope with inertia. I’m talking about the object’s inertia. Which, by the way, I interpret as chaos.
Take this harmless spoon, grab it firmly in your hand. Oh but, the fingers slip, the spoon lift up four inches from the table, come back down forcefully against the porcelain of this china tea cup from the Ming era, the one your wife told you was the last from a set that belonged to her grand mother. The cup shatters in a hundreds super sharp pieces. Fairly panicked, you go get the broom in a hurry. Oh, but the handle knocks down the pot that was on the stove slowly cooking for five hours the dish that your son took six years to master, and, of course, you invited all your friends and family in a three thousand miles circle to eat that in half an hour.
You get it? The cold, unmovable lifeless life of objects. They don’t care, never will.
Now, here we are, musicians. Our job, compared to, say, dancers, is to get objects to be emotional, warm, controlled, etc… we wrestle with chaos all the time. Whether it’d be a guitar or a grand piano, even if the sound helps, we still need to get our message across with nothing but metal and wood. That’s why the guitar of a Mark Knopfler doesn’t sound like a Keith Richard.
Us musicians are in front of an impossible task: To communicate with our peers with just the sounds of an inanimate object (I am not talking about voice, obviously).
Fortunately, we have plenty of tools in our being to make that happen. For example, we have fun. The smile, the games, the humor of how to understand life. That is our bread and butter. We call it creativity, but when I listen to a fine quartet Beethoven crafted two hundred years ago, he and I relate because we both have some similar references of what fun is.
We have sadness also. That could be associated easily to a slower pace, a softer mood.
We have anger, that’s where we explode the instruments, where we torture them to get the screams we need.
Now let’s do a little test: music for a gentle rain? Can you hear it? Isn’t that a pleasant ear massage? Yes? Now let’s intensify the rain to a blasted storm. Not the same music, eh? Many things will change, from tempos to orchestration. Now, let’s push it to the force of a hurricane. Wow! Now we got something that doesn’t resemble at all the tenderness of the gentle eternal rain. Yet, we could take a piano, a drum set, a clarinet, and we could hear what those three different levels of weather would sound like on each instrument.
Yes, instruments are cold. They are. Ask the piano buried underneath one mile of sea in the belly of the Titanic. Instruments are cold. But we have a great way to warm them up with our hearts and our imaginations.