The Space Between the Notes

April 13, 2020

I was listening to a performance of Handel’s Messiah this weekend, one that had been recorded several years and played in the place of the live concert would no longer happen.  At the end of the iconic Hallelujah Chorus and the final piece of the oratorio there is a grand pause, a moment when the singing and the instruments stop completely.  In a piece as well-known and beloved as the Messiah, this moment is one of joyful anticipation.  Sometimes, however, hearing the music stop can cause confusion and anxiety for both musicians and the audience.  Is the piece done?  Should I clap?  Am I in the wrong place?  Often, if a musician is unfamiliar with the piece or not watching the conductor, they may continue, causing even more confusion.  We are in one of those moments now.  We don’t know where the music is going or when it will resume.  But here is the secret—the silence IS part of the music.  There is a quote that has been attributed to Mozart, Debussy, and even Miles Davis that music is the silence between the notes.  Would that final hallelujah be quite so glorious if there wasn’t that space?  Embrace the pause and all the feelings that come with it—the anxiety, the confusion, the boredom.  When the music resumes it WILL be glorious. 

How can I help during this time?  Don’t hesitate to contact me.

 

 

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