May 8, 2011

A little peace and quiet

On Mothers' Day, it's good to think about peace and quiet.

Tomoko remembers her teacher playing the guitar. "It fit with the music so well. It was quiet. Close to nature." She goes on to say, "Music can be a simple accent, like a flower." She asserts, "If everyone would listen to music, the world we be more peaceful."

Playwright Congreve would certainly agree: " Music has charms to soothe a savage breast."

Music also has its silent spaces, which can last just an instant, or become the entire piece, as is famously known in No Such Thing as Silence: John Cage's 4'33". Some silences enable singers to catch their breaths. Other silences signal a transition between movements, a time for one to synthesize the prior movement, and have time to refocus on a new section.

Silence also connects music and nature. "Silence is the best gold," asserts Tomoko. "This is music." Tomoko remarks, "One day if you're very depressed, you don't want to hear music. You have to be quiet." That can be a good time to be quiet in nature. In the seemingly quiet of the out-of-doors, you can feel the rhythm of life. It beats in the silence of your heart. And as you become calmer, you can start to hear nature's sounds, which can be music to your ears and psyche. "A bird singing, a tree waving; nature shows that silence is variable music."

Nevertheless, Tomoko says, "You can't go without sound for too long."

Tomoko considers Chopin to be very quiet sometimes. "He hardly touched the keyboard, but he was a good pianist." To hear a quiet interlude played by Tomoko, try her interpretation of Chopin's Nocturne in B flat minor, Opus 9, No. 1 on her Chopin Volume 2 album (

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