The Unspoken

Attending a symphony orchestra concert, we hear the music that is shaped by the tandem of the musicians and the conductor. Sometimes musicians find themselves mimicking the gestures of the conductor in inspired enjoyment however it's always amazing to think how these gestures influence the musicians’ performance.

Gestures imply not just hands involved - it's a specific type of communication of the body. When a concert ends, it is not rare to hear people saying that it was like the Music Director dancing. Actually, if the listeners could view from the players' side, they'd see him smiling.

During rehearsals, musicians sometimes stop and take their time to see and feel the shape of a passage by a sort of description used; this may be a description of visual objects or abstract concepts. An understanding can be reached by inducing sentiments from personal experiences as well. The players fine-tune the sound that is supposed to be communicated by watching the Director's movements. It's more natural and easier than it might seem.

At times although it's the most efficient method, during the rehearsals there might arise issues. For example, as one of the Seattle Philharmonic Orchestra's musicians told us, while they were rehearsing for one of the latest concerts, they have thoughts about swimming in gravy to make turn a visual passage of 16th notes on paper into a hearty sound and they decided to imagine the hammer heave when playing John Henry by Aaron Copland.

It's in the character of a musical piece, perhaps even in the moment. As the musicians state it, watching the music director at a close distance, you can clearly see these moments expressed in movements. Motion is translated into sound, this amazing communication happens without a single word uttered. We recommend that at the next concert of The Seattle Philharmonic you should try to not just hear the difference between short and long notes or light and heavy playing, but also see it.


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