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In-Between the Notes

Updated: Nov 28, 2020

I have come to think of all music-making as arrivals, landings and leavings of notes. I am fascinated by how we come to a note, how we can sustain it or articulate it when we get there, and then how we move away from it or transform it into something else. Imagine defining styles and genres of music through this lens. How do players arrive, sustain, and leave notes in Jazz, Klezmer, Classical, Reggae, Cajun, Early Music, Indian, Salsa, or Bluegrass? I love this simplicity. Not because it is simple but because it is actually very complex and indeed, universal. This simple view offers a platform on which to experience and hear all music as moments of being and transforming.

When I hear Irish music, the beauty I hear in the music is all about how my favorite players arrive at a note, how they sculpt that note, and what happens after that note. And for each of us who choose to play this music, there is a unique (and sometimes interesting) story about how we arrived at certain tunes, what we choose to do with them at any given time while in our hands, and how and when we choose to leave that tune to our memory or bring it back out from the silent shadows. The variety of timbral, melodic, dynamic, and ornamental choices that can be made in this arriving, sustaining and leaving of notes define a player, their musical personality, the type of music they play and their style. Those choices might have their roots in a long established history or come from a burst of innovation or be found somewhere in between.

For today, consider a few of ways to approach a note, sustain it, and leave it. This is the first note of The Silver Hand, a jig by my friend John Brennan (a tune I cannot stop playing!).

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A note_approachlandleave
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