Music begins inside human beings, and so must any instruction. Not at the instrument, not with the first finger, nor with the first position, not with this or that chord. The starting point is one’s own stillness, listening to oneself, the “being ready for music,” listening to one’s own heartbeat and breathing. Carl Orff
Watching other artists perform is an invaluable part of one’s craft. It is the way one learns what works and what doesn’t work. Watching others artists, especially instrumentalists, is how I came to understand silence in stagecraft.
Silence creates a distance to time and place, therefore most people avoid it. It makes us uneasy. As actors, we work on tightening beats, avoiding the silence that sucks life out of a scene. As musicians, we adapt to the loud drone of electrified instruments, amplifiers and fans. As people, we escape into the harried world of sound and sight bites and the ever-present background noise. Silence has become a very precious commodity. My songs and the era from which they are drawn are inherently more silent. The mere fact that they are performed in a room where people can actually listen already sets this kind of music apart. Gradually, as people become tired of being assaulted, they are returning to the listening rooms and the salons where music played for centuries.
I use “Kunstpausen” (artistic pauses) to frame my songs, create mystery and maintain my power. Simply put, I draw whatever energy there is in a song out beyond its boundaries. I insert them at the beginning of songs so I can focus and gather myself into character. I pause within the song if I wish to emphasize something or be playful with the text. At the end of songs, I maintain my character for seconds before acknowledging my audience – my aim being to allow the scene to drift away rather than be jerked away by an habitual “thank you,” or a change in my expression and focus. I am quite aware of the effect this has on my audience. They want to linger in the moment with me, relish the space, their thoughts and their mood.
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