Timothy's Blog

Timothy's blog on dulcimers, music, nature and life!
MAY
19

Acoustic environment

Acoustic environment

The place in which you play your instrument is part of the sound of your instrument --- always.

I could go so far as to say that the location where you’re playing is actually part of your instrument, in the sense that the sounds coming out of your instrument are dispersed to, and return from, surfaces that are sonically connected to the instrument.

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2553 Hits
JAN
27

Worth: inherent or in a context?

Worth: inherent or in a context?

So what gives something value?  Is it worth what it’s worth even if that’s not recognized or appreciated or acknowledged?

As a musician I frequently experience a vast range of responses from listeners, particularly noticeably in an informal setting such as a signing event in front of a bookstore that carries my CDs: some people are in rapt joy, and some are mildly interested, while others seem to intently ignore my presence or even smirk in pitying amusement!

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6010 Hits
OCT
24

Can they see you?

Can they see you?

[Photo: Virginia Sky, with Ann Robinson and Peter Budnikas.]

Guitarists face the audience, especially when they’re singing.  Of course!  Well, pianists don’t, because they need for the piano to face the audience, so they face sideways.

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69461 Hits
JUL
03

Playing to the audience --- or in your own private world

Playing to the audience --- or in your own private world

I’ve noticed that when I’m performing in front of an audience, particularly in a concert setting, there are two different modes of operation between which I fluctuate during the course of a set.  For those of you who are public performers or who are considering entering that amazing world, perhaps these will be useful concepts:

When I play some pieces, especially upbeat ones, such as my zany version of “Soldier’s Joy” or my original composition “Sycamore Rapids,” I find myself playing to the listeners --- intending to communicate the excitement of the music from myself to them.  Notice I’m not trying to merely play a tune or arrangement, or demonstrate what I can do, but rather I’m forming the perspective in my mind that I’m right there with those other people and I am sharing my own experience with them in an active and assertive way.  (And yes, I’m basically an introvert, so I find that this keeps me from getting too self-conscious --- it’s not an extroverted behavior but in reality a coping mechanism!)  With a meaningful and lively spoken introduction, I set the stage for this approach, and the audience usually gets the message easily.

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21612 Hits
JUN
13

Phrasing for drama and meaning

Phrasing for drama and meaning

[By the way, in the photo I'm playing my tune "Big Meadows Twilight" in the twilight at Big Meadows, Shenandoah National Park in 2000 --- photo by our daughter Karen.]

There are many approaches a musician can take toward a melody and arrangement:  Perhaps your choice today is choosing a genre to play it in, for example doing a reel as Old-Time vs. Bluegrass vs. Celtic; or perhaps you need to decide whether you’re playing toward an audience, or playing as if closed into your own little world and the audience just gets to listen in; or perhaps you need to figure out if you just want to play a beautiful tune as beautifully as you can, or if you want to communicate some additional meaning through it.  These and many other decisions come into play as we face the performance of a particular piece of music.

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111759 Hits

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