Sunday, February 21, 2010
J is for Jetsam
Sometimes you have to just throw things away. Notes. Riffs. Phrases. Movements. Whole pieces. Big ideas. Repertoires. Let go of that impulse to save and use and reuse everything, to make everything important. Just toss 'em. Listen to Sinatra leave those notes out. Or Carlos Kleiber rehearse a gesture so close to perfection that you don't have to, like, pay it any more attention. These bits and stretches of music are more valuable — more musical — in their absence than in their presence. Even more than that: they are more present as music when they are unplayed, unheard, physically absent. Every composer is uneven, not every piece is a masterpiece, and not every piece needs to be visited, let alone revisited. Cast a cold ear. Learn that being unsentimental, practicing unattachment, is often more musically sensitive than trying to own every last detail.