I recently had a very interesting conversation with a long time friend and old band mate. We were discussing various music theory concepts. When he mentioned that he’d been teaching an idea to a group of musicians he’s currently working with, about music as a manipulation of energy.
Right away I was intrigued and excited since it’s something I think about often. For me music didn’t come natural. I wasn’t a God-given talent by any means. It was pure determination and will. Effort and energy. (Read a bit about my personally history learning music in the previous post here.)
It’s an interesting idea. Sort of an Einstein like theory of music. Where each note, each beat, each breath is literally like shoveling coal into the belly of a steam ship engine. And each musician is responsible to carry their own weight, energetically speaking. If someone starts falling short with their coal shoveling, (i.e. energy manipulation), the ship doesn’t move forward.
For some reason this metaphor reminded me of the classic Fred Astaire film scene in the engine room. I’ve always loved this!
“Slap that bass…”
However, this idea that each person involved has a certain energetic responsibility to the music extends beyond just the musicians for me personally. It’s a reciprocity among audience and performers. Where the band plays and puts out energy to the crowd and the crowd reacts and returns this energy. In the best scenario this continues back and forth creating a synergistic flow.
From my experience this is when music becomes great. It’s not about how technically perfect the musicians played or how cool they looked. But simply how well did everyone connect and share their energy through the music. How well did we all manipulate the energy, sound, vibration, even time, to create a moment worth remembering.
Do you have any philosophical theories of music and what creates greatness at a concert? Please join the conversation and reply in the comments below!