High level artistic expression comes from an understanding that when the parts are put together effectively there is a significant meaning that couldn’t be created without joining them together as a whole. While there are several creative highpoints in a piece of music, the challenge is to effectively create movement to and from the main highpoint giving a sense of the overall energy. It requires a constant balancing of the moment with the bigger picture.
We performed music of three composers—Ottorino Respighi, Carl Neilsen, and Ron Nelson—from three different cultures and periods in history. The uniting factor was the wholeness of the musical expression. That wholeness comes from the value of the part in relation to the whole, and the result is a unique expression that is literally more than the sum of the parts.
One of the most rewarding moments for me was the response of one of the students following an intense rehearsal of the fourth movement of Pines of Rome
by Respighi. He came up to me at a break, patted his heart, and said that this was the first time he ever felt music as he was playing. What an incredibly special moment! In each of the four movements of the work, Respighi depicts pine trees in different locations in Rome at different times of the day. The five-minute final movement portrays the Roman legion marching home, gaining strength and momentum as they approach. The power of the building momentum is unforgettable. In the end, the brass fanfares resonate through the building underlying footsteps of the soldiers and the singing lyric figures in the upper voices.
Accept responsibility for your life.
Know that it is you who will get you where you want to go, no one else.
~ Les Brown
The twenty-first century demands the imagination to move forward while not always knowing where things are going in the long run. Things are changing quickly; we need creative power that comes from understanding how to generate momentum, how to change direction time after time, and how to keep moving. Just as in music performance, if you place too much focus on the moment, you will lose a sense of the bigger picture. The artistic process gives you a deep understanding of this concept. Since music takes place in time, its vitality comes from movement too. The movement of sound is what gives it life. Through our unique inner and outer experiences, we can create momentum that brings life to our personal world in a similar way.
Music is your own experience, your thoughts, your wisdom.
If you don't live it, it won't come out of your horn.
~ Charlie Parker
Everyone can learn to use the artistic process of movement. In this optical illusion by Victor Vasarely, he uses the perceptual aspects of art to create momentum, which result both from the illusion of movement and the interaction of color relationships.
Music uses elements such as melody, harmony, rhythm, dynamics, and articulation to generate momentum. We can do the same in our daily lives using our gifts, opinions, beliefs, and values as artistic elements. Understanding how to adjust, relearn, and take another direction is vital to full expression as a human being, both in our own inner awareness and in relation to those in our personal work environments.
Here are some things you can learn from the artistic process.
- There is opportunity to create momentum in every moment regardless of the distinguishing characteristics of that point in time.
- It’s important to be fully engaged in what you do with all parts of your body, heart, and mind—physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
- You gain an inner awareness that allows you to be carried forward with the flow, creating momentum and meaningful relationships with everyone around you.
- It is an environment that is rich with possibility.
It was remarkable how conscious the students in the ensemble were of the overarching momentum of each work and how they could individually contribute to achieving the end result. From the rising sun and ringing bells of Morning Alleluias by Ron Nelson, to the exotic and elegant dances of Aladdin Suite by Carl Nielsen, to children playing soldiers and the Roman legion marching home in Respighi’s Pines of Rome, the music was brought to life.