Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Advent: Music, Silence, and Winter

Silence. That’s a quality, a place, an understanding, that is as necessary to music -- to the creation of music as well as the playing of it -- as are the notes, the melody, the timbre, and all else that goes into music.

Advent is often a time to appreciate the varied aspects of silence, and to look and listen for them as things may at times tend to seem a bit too noisy and hurried with winter holiday demands and activities -- whether it happens to be your holiday which is being celebrated or not. The good thing about this sort of silence -- interior silence -- is that you can find it within, whatever may be going on around you. That may take a bit of reflection, or a bit of practice if the idea is unfamiliar to you. Give it some thought though.

“You don’t just crash into a piece of music. You draw it up from within the silence.” That is classical violinist Nicola Benedetti speaking. She said that as she was giving a master class to a group of chamber musicians -- musicians who were of middle school age. Silence is an aspect musicians often savor as an integral part of what they do, and as Benedetti suggested to those students, it is a necessary part of how to think about music as well. That is true not only for players and creators of music, but for listeners as well.

Interior silence is a spiritual discipline found across many faiths and many denominations within faiths. It is also part of the creative practice and discipline across artistic disciplines, from poets to actors to, yes, musicians.

At this time of deep winter in the northern part of the world, long nights and quiet stars may be a good gateway to this sort of reflection. So too may many sorts of music.

I encourage you to find your own way into these ideas this Advent. Here are music and stories to explore along that way

Advent: music and quiet
Kathy Mattea: Joy for Christmas Day
India to Indiana: Everything Is Everywhere from Carrie Newcomer
Cathie Ryan: The Farthest Wave

You may also wish to see
Music, connection, education: Nicola Benedetti
Music, silence, and spiritual journey

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posted by Kerry Dexter at


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