It’s Those Damn Candy Wrappers

I should have posted this earlier, before the concert it anticipates took place. It’s a message from Scott Faulkner, who directs a classical ensemble in Reno, Nevada. Yes, there is a non-gambling culture in Reno. He read yesterday’s Harmony and History posting.

I couldn’t agree more with you about music being heard instead of listened to. The Reno Chamber Orchestra is playing an outdoor concert tonight and one of the battles that I will no doubt have with the sound man is over whether or not he can play recorded music before our performance. I cannot stand this. People are coming to hear our orchestra, which is a good regional orchestra, but if a polished studio recording of the Berlin Philharmonic is our opening act, we’re cooked. Out of the same speakers will come our music and there is no convenient way to explain that wind and mosquitos and heat and better musicians and a million other factors cause their music to sound better than ours. However I am very confident that the experience we will provide will be far more enjoyable and satisfying than if the evening were spent listening to Berlin Phil CDs through the PA at the Hawkins Amphitheater.
When I taught Music Appreciation I used to tell students that silence is the canvas on which musicians paint, so making inappropriate sounds during a performance is like flicking black ink on the page while someone is trying to draw a picture. Many audience members don’t realize just how much musicians on stage hear the sounds made out in the hall. Don’t even get me started on cell phones, velcro purses, candy wrappers, and watches that tell you for no apparent reason that it is the top of the hour. These comments are more about unamplified music, and probably the more amplified the music the less these things are noticeable…but also the more bland the music must be. The louder the music is, the less people listen. A whisper can convey a whole lot more than a scream, but perhaps people are afraid to trust a subtle statement. In our world, we seem to favor bashing people over the head to get our messages across.
This is day seven of triple digit heat in Reno. The temperature should drop down to about 90 by the time our concert starts at 7:30. But, as they say, “it’s a dry heat.”

Scott Faulkner confesses that, given his name, he nearly succumbed to the temptation to become a novelist. Instead, he went into music—for the money, no doubt.

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