July 9, 2016

The Dynamic Tension of Music

Music opens the mind, the heart, and the soul. Yet at the same time, music demands parameters. Its is both open and closed, external and internal.

“To play well you need to be open to the music,” says Tomoko. “What is the composer trying to say? What is the composer thinking and feeling?” Tomoko says.

As a pianist, you access the music with your eyes. Then you internalize that music, informed by the composer’s intent. Tomoko shares her knowledge about these musicians to help her students understand the music’s origin and its context. She reminds her students, “Be true to the composer”; they are working with a closed set of musical notation. Finally, as a pianist, you externalize that composition through your body: your mind and heart flow through your arms, your fingers, even your feet. Such attention to the structure and dynamics of music leads to its ultimate freedom of expression.

Those same openness applies to the audience. They experience the music with their whole body: eyes, ears, even the felt rhythm and beat of the music can reverberate through the body. That music touches the person internally in the head and heart.

How can a limited set of tones, performed in sequence, lead to seemingly limitless variations and musical experiences? Tomoko would say that it is the miracle of the composers’ openness to musical possibilities – and the disciplined use of musical form to express internal inspiration to compose a new reality for others to enjoy.