It's been an awfully long time since I've last posted (if you consider over a month an awfully long time.......... long is a relative term...) but here I am!
As many people know, I've been at college since the middle of September. I must say, it is one awesome experience. Overall, Northwestern's not as bad as Stanton; the workload's not as bad, and my classes (mine, strictly speaking) don't start until 11 AM (M-Th) or 12 PM (F). My teachers are pretty cool, especially my chemistry professor and math professor (compare the two! Such a difference in style!). My TAs are cool too.
Enough about college. That's not the purpose of this post.
It's no surprise to people that listening to music is my drug. OK, so what?
I went to a different dorm last night (CCI for the NU-literate) to play piano, because, for once, my workload was minimal. I started playing and I realized how much I enjoyed just playing and making music, despite the fact that the music was not quite Stravinsky, Mahler, or Shostakovich. I fell into a sort of a drowsy state of "just keep playing and listen."
I realized today that there is something better than listening to music. It's making music and listening to the music you make, assuming that the music you make is bearable to listen to. (How bearable something is is completely left to the audience).
Listening to music is good enough to improve my mood significantly. Listening and taking pride in the music I make is something that's better. I've thus found that despite the fact that I like playing for other people, I like playing for myself. There's no one else to judge but myself, and I am a lazy judge. If it sounds good enough that I like it, I'm happy. Music + pride! Is there anything better?
That was no rhetorical question. The answer is, quite simply and emphatically, YES.
After coming to the realization that I liked making music simply for the sake of making music to listen to, I thought about when I really liked making music. I did not have to think long, because the answer facepalmed me rather quickly.
I used to think I was most happy when I was listening to music. I am now inclined to think that I am most happy when I am MAKING music with OTHER PEOPLE.
Stipulations! The "other people" have to be friendly and competent. Otherwise we'd all get pissy and sound like crap. And I'll have a massive headache, which is not good food for happiness. And no one likes pissy people. Especially me.
The more the merrier! One of the things that kept me really sane (but ate away at my time) was playing for the Jacksonville Symphony Youth Orchestra. If you play an instrument and live in the Greater Jacksonville area, I highly recommend joining this organization, unless you simply don't have the time nor the money. I think my pleasure was apparent in the way I bounced around in my seat as I played (unintentionally!), much to the amusement of my colleagues, who are, I should add, friendly and competent.
It therefore made sense to me why I wanted, more than anything else, to join the NU Philharmonia, with or without private violin lessons. So far, I'm enjoying it a lot too, though not as much as I enjoyed JSYO, because no one really knows each other in the orchestra and there are no breaks in rehearsals to socialize. At least everyone's competent; but I suppose friendliness doesn't matter as much when you're in a huge ensemble.
Of course, I like making music with any number of other people, be it 1 or 80. Making music with one other person is awesome, as my experiences with friends have shown (e.g. Alan, Kim, David, Evan, Brad, teachers, etc.). Making music in small groups of 3 (as I have done for Bartók's Contrasts with John Henry and Nick!), 4 (string quartets with Anna, Peter, and Victor!), or even 6 (Brahms Sextet No. 1 with Rachel, Peter, Leah, Sunny, and Chris!) is pleasant too!
In ensembles, members or sections all interact with each other in many ways, constantly. We support and lead each other, sometimes both at the same time. Harmonies support the melodies, melodies give harmonies something to support and they are the most prominent elements in music. Instrument timbres color both the harmonies and melodies in different ways, depending on how the composer/orchestrator/arranger does it (see my previous post on cooking and orchestration). And when I'm not playing, I can enjoy the music made by others, until the time comes for me to contribute my skills to the overall texture of sometimes-structured aural stimulation.
It's best when we just make music just for fun, with or without instruments. There's no pressure to do well, no deadline to meet, just music and happiness. We can laugh at mistakes and carry on madly with no care in the world of how we might sound to a discerning audience or a critiquing judge. It's even better when you and a friend or friends sing individual lines at the top of your lungs (someone has to do that with me for Mahler or Shostakovich. Seriously! ANYONE?!) just for the hell of it.
All the lonely people belong in groups, where they can feed from each other's talents, skills, and perspectives. The Beatles were a group, and so were the instrumentalists for that song: a double string quartet. Their harmonies, timbres, and ideas mixed to become one of my favorite Beatle songs of all time: Eleanor Rigby.
Cheesy end? I think so. Bah, who cares?