Monday, January 16, 2012

Silence

'(shush.)' photo (c) 2009, Piermario - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/
Last night Jason and I went to Mountain Stage with some friends. At each Mountain Stage concert, there are five performers, with one or two who are a bit more well-known.

Last night the headliner for the show was Johnny Winter, who is a blues guitar legend. The auditorium was packed, and the crowd was obviously excited to see a real, live performer from Woodstock.

Like all Mountain Stage shows that I've been able to attend, I found a new performer that I really enjoyed (this time it was Ruthie Foster who just broke my heart with her stunning voice). I got to enjoy live music with some of my favorite people. I got to hear Bob Thompson kill it on the piano yet again.

But for all of the excitement surrounding seeing Winter, I just couldn't get into him. I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a huge fan of the blues, because for all of the three-chords-and-the-truth talk, those three chords get pretty dull after a bit. And I'm not a guitarist, so I hesitate to talk much about technique or tone.

I think the biggest issue that I had with listening to him play was that there was never any silence. The solos never had any space in them. For the full hour that he played, Winter's solos were just an assault of sound.

Don't get me wrong. He has some chops. But what will grab me every time is when you can evoke emotion from me by what you don't play. When you leave me begging for the chord to resolve, when I feel like I can't breathe until you play the next note - that space is where you'll impress me as an artist.

In my life, there are silences that are borne of fear. Each day I need to chip away at these fears so that those silences are broken.

But there also need to be silence that exists so that others may speak. Silence for me to hear God. Silence for life, for love, for rest.

Today I will find time for silence.

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This video of Ben Sollee playing Embrace is one of my favorite examples of quiet music (I saw him at Mountain Stage several months ago, and the hush in the auditorium was gorgeous). Do you have a favorite example of silence? Where do you go to find it?

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