As we prepare for The Judgment of Paris next weekend, aware that the expanding numbers of Omicron cases may yet thwart our plans, I’m drawn back to what makes music special. For us it has always been, and remains, the experience of sharing our musicking with our audience. I’ve always liked the work of Christopher Small, who coined the term “musicking” – music not as a thing but an activity, and for us an activity shared with our audience. In 1995 Small wrote an anecdote:
I am preparing a performance, an encounter with my fellow-citizens of this little Catalan town, using material provided by Josef Haydn under the name of piano sonata. As I prepare the performance I find myself imagining my listeners, my fellow-musickers rather, most of whom I know and who know me, and drawing them in imagination into the encounter. On the night I hope to be empowered to do this in reality, since the performance will be meaningless without their critical but hopefully kindly collaboration.
We’re enjoying rehearsing, drawing our audience in imagination into the encounter, as Small describes above. We’re excited with how things are going and think this show will be something very special, and we can’t wait to share this with our fellow-musickers in reality. We’re still hopeful we’ll be musicking with everyone in our Judgment of Paris on Sunday, but if Omicron determines it’s not this weekend … it will be soon!
Christopher Small. 1995. [The Theory of Participatory Discrepancies: A Progress Report; Searching for Swing: Participatory Discrepancies in the Jazz Rhythm Section; Rhythm as Duration of Sounds in “Tumba Francesa”]: Responses. Ethnomusicology [Online], 39. Available: http://www.jstor.org.libezproxy.open.ac.uk/stable/852201 [Accessed 13/02/2022].