The Rhythm Is Life

Music at the piano can be so wonderfully fulfilling. Perhaps the reason for this lies in the fact that at the piano, one performer, that is you my dear friend, can represent a very whole and complete balance of the triune nature of music.
The three separate aspects of music, Melody, Harmony and Rhythm. All equally necessary and always present even if only by implication, just as we are created from Spirit, Thought and Flesh.

We can align the three aspects of music with the three aspects of man.
Melody aligns with the heart, Harmony with the mind and Rhythm with the body.

When we sing our song it comes from the heart. The melody is always the point of focus. We can modify the experience of melody by different harmonic approaches, each adding their own "spin", or particular view, clothing the melody in different colours. Our bodies are inspired to dance by the compulsive rhythm of music, subconsciously we find a foot tapping or a finger drumming.

All three aspects, as well balanced as can possibly be, make both Man and Music whole.

Melody and harmony are out of reach for science, but rhythm not so. We will discover that perhaps there is such a thing as Rhythmic Law. I wish to expand on the earlier material on relaxation at this point. As you will know or at least remember well from your early days at the piano, our hands do have minds of their own.
They have tendencies built in to them as to how the fingers like to behave. We are trying to achieve a state in our equipment that allows the rhythmic flow of energy, our very LIFE ENERGY, in an unhindered way.
Relaxation from the shoulders to the finger tips can aid the flow of this energy, and with special regard to the movement of fingers, can help to defeat the impositions of the hand's own tendencies.
In other words, the messages from the brain not only find a clearer pathway to the fingers, but when they arrive, have less of a struggle asserting themselves in a relaxed hand.
Furthermore, relaxation can become a consistent state for you with practice, and your equipment will then be always familiar to you.
Your hands will feel different in tension and your playing style and the sound produced will be harder for you to master if you avoid the issue of trying to establish this consistency in relaxation. It is of prime importance.

Now to the matter of Rhythmic Law.
There are basically only two different forms of rhythm. Duple, and Triple.
Any time signature or grouping of notes will be in combinations of these patterns, and any further subdivision of beats will assume combinations of these two basic patterns.
We will find constant states of Macrocosm and Microcosm as we zoom in on a landscape.

A segment of a musical whole, such as a phrase or riff or section is the first Microcosm.
Treating these as our new Macrocosm we zoom in to find the bar as a Microcosm. Within a bar we have the beats, and within the beats we have subdivisions or groupings.

Within the bar is where we shall observe Rhythmic Law.
Duple time will always contain positive and negative. Think of it how you will, Yin and Yang, heavy and light, down and up, whichever way suits you or feels most appropriate in context, but it is there, and we should learn how to incorporate this Law into our Energy Flow so that we co-ordinate our movements and inflections with the requirements of the music.
Remember, we are desperately seeking contrast at the piano.
Contrast that must live at our fingertips and that will sketch out our landscape with precision.

Think Down-positive, Up-negative all the way, each allows the other life, they are co-dependent. The alternative is an arbitrary syncopation caused by an uncontrolled thumb or a uniform blandness of too much or too little tone.
Contrast is the keyword here that allows you to breathe rhythmic life into your playing and continuity, for one negative forms a void space that sucks into itself the next positive, which in turn must create in its shadow another negative.

See how it works within a bar.
In duple time the two halves of the bar are the main Positive Negative statement.
Within that, and within and within and within that, are other positive negative statements - the beats themselves and then the subdivisions of these beats.
Can you feel the flow through your fingers, think it, feel it.

Not as good watching your fingers, you'll only see what you've already done! Feel it flowing on the inside of you.
That is where the master is, on the inside, feel with him, feel him every note of the way.

Triple time is wedge shaped, with the positive end diminishing to the negative. Of course you can have triples in duples and duples in triples. The Law always applies.
Put it into your playing as you learn. Learn where to put the weight, learn where to put lightness. Remember that this is your Life Energy that is starting to flow in a co-ordinated way with the requirements of the music, because you are aware and in control at every moment, and you are causing this to happen.

You can combine and absorb this while learning the fingering and the notes. Best not to add it on later, you'll only have to unlearn from the way you did it initially. If you do it from the beginning
this way, it'll stay with the fingers, as part of your muscle memory.
Add to all of this the very real sensation of "Breathing" with your arms for each separate musical phrase, sing it with your heart.
If you are unable to sing it in your heart, more friendship with the piece is needed. Let it become your song that you are singing and put your full awareness into this as a performance state. It is impossible to perform without the "singing" ability, all that happens then is that keys are pressed and beats are counted.
Let's learn to perform.

No comments: