Why Can’t All Music Be Profound?

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I’m Robert Estrin and this is LivingPianos.com. The question today is, “Why can’t all music be profound?” Wouldn’t that be great if everything you listened to was enlightening? Is that possible? Is that even desirable? Naturally, there are many different purposes music serves. Going to concerts and having a truly uplifting experience is certainly a very important aspect of music, but what about parties? What about dancing? There are times when profundity is the least concern when listening to music. You just want to have something that you can move to, something that feels good. Let’s focus for a minute on concert music.

Should All Concert Music be Profound?

Before I answer this question, I’m going to bring up a parallel. Have you ever seen a band perform and they were playing with really high energy, fast and loud? At first it’s like, “Wow, this is impressive.” But as the night goes on, everything they play is fast and loud. After a while, you end up tuning out the music, and nothing seems energetic at all! How can this be? The energy level becomes your new baseline. Let’s say, you go to the same club on a different night with a different band playing, and this band plays with extreme dynamics. They take the music up and then they come down – way down. They play whisper-quiet, and then it comes up again. It’s enriching! So what is the lesson here?

Something Can Only be Exciting if Something Else is More Relaxed.

The same exact truth is evident with how profound a piece of music can be. More than that, if a performer tries to make every phrase of a piece of music profound, nothing is profound. It becomes labored and self-indulgent. You have to let some music speak naturally. It’s the places where you focus attention that molds a performance. This way, the entire work will have a profound nature, not because every single phrase is played to the nth degree of what can be done with the music.

Great composers and great performers understand this, and they bring out parts of the music that draw your attention at just the right moments. Not everything is profound, but when you get done listening to the piece, you’re left with something really meaningful and special that stays with you. That’s why all music can’t be profound.

If Everything is Profound, Nothing is Profound.

This is applicable not only for composition but also in your musical performance.

Thanks for joining me once again. This is Robert Estrin at LivingPianos.com, Your Online Piano Store.