We spend most of our lives “listening” to music. How much time, though, do we spend “feeling” the music? Perhaps we feel the music when we are at live concerts, music venues and alike. In this entry I am going to address what it means to “feel” the music on a smaller scale.
As someone who spends time “feeling” the music I am going to offer some tips. First, pay attention to the sensation of your instrument. The vibration from your drum, vibraphone, and piano will resonate with your body. This is a different sort of awareness that may take time to develop.
A snare drum will broadcast a sensation that feels lighter, and does not penetrate your body as deeply. As you explore differently tuned drums, highest to lowest, you will notice the vibration deepening in both sensation and body penetration. Work on soloing around the drum kit or on a single drum, or practice some etudes. Think about what listeners will feel, too many notes can create an uncomfortable wall of vibrations.
On pitched instruments, such as the vibraphone or piano, the sensations are slightly different; especially if the note is sustained. By working on scales or chords, you will learn how each note feels as it resonates with your body. Sustaining the note may help increase your awareness as the vibration will be held out longer. As you become more aware shortening the sustention is encouraged.
How does this relate to your daily practice? Or playing in a group of musicians? Remember, there is someone who is always hearing you play in most situations. Be aware of the vibrations you are putting out. By doing so you are being respectful of the vibrations others are feeling. You can make these vibrations beautiful!
From a performance point of view, feeling the bass is helpful. There are times when noise is canceled out. There are times when feeling the sensation of instruments playing is more reliable than “listening” to them. It also makes you a more thoughtful musician; to have the ability to blend your vibrations with other vibrations to paint a vibrating beauty!
Evelyn Glennie is a prime example of someone who can feel the music. Without the ability to use her ears as a listening tool she has learned to listen with her body. I, as someone who uses electronic means of listening have found her approach to be useful. And now, music practitioners, it is your turn to experiment with vibrations! Make your music a sensational experience!