Music elicits various responses from listeners. Many years ago I learned in a class that some people respond visually to music. It is a natural response. Such listeners might imagine colors or pictures, perhaps even a story. Others are focused on the music alone. A poll was taken in my class, all of whom were musicians; most of us were not visual listeners.
I have never been a visual listener, but something unusual has happened a few times while listening or performing within the last year. About a year ago, while playing viola during the third (slow) movement of Symphony # 5 by Shostakovich, I began to visualize a beautiful but bleak, icy landscape. At times I saw dripping icicles. Since then I have added some other images, including sunshine peeking through at the very end.
While practicing the opening of Brahms' fourth symphony I suddenly imagined a stream busily cascading over, under and around rocks. From that moment I began to more fully understand the viola part and how to play it. I began to fall in love with this symphony again.
Recently I played section viola in a performance of the Schumann Piano Concerto. During a section of the opening movement, which included an exquisitely performed clarinet solo, I felt I was sitting in the shade of a huge tree on a cool, sunny, and breezy spring day. It was so strong I could almost feel the soft wind.
This has been a wonderful experience. I has deepened my enjoyment and comprehension of each of these pieces. I do not know what triggered this, but I think I know one thing that has contributed.
Many days I walk our dog along a wooded parkway while listening to my IPOD. Sometimes I listen to music I am practicing. It was while doing this that I visualized streams to Brahms. I have listened to Brahms and Beethoven during these walks and have felt intuitively that their music complements nature.
I suppose one reason for this is that these composers loved nature and spent time immersed in it (Beethoven for sure). It permeates their music. One of the marvels of our technology is that I can listen to an entire symphony while walking in the woods. It is a marvelous experience; I highly recommend it!!
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