All this rushing about   Leave a comment

This was originally started life as a blog I made for the Microsoft Orchestra
I’ve been thinking about tempo and what it is that makes people rush – here are my thoughts on the topic.
Many times, we rush when it is hard. I think that the reason is that you get nervous about the hard bits and then you think ok – this goes really, really fast, if I play it as fast as I can, I should be able to keep up. There are a few problems with this:

  1. It may be that you can play it faster than you think
  2. Rushing can be contagious; you’re playing with your standmate, and they might go a little fast, and you want to catch up
  3. Not enough time is given to the spaces between the notes
  4. (and most importantly) you lose the connection with the rest of the whole group in concentrating on your little corner of the world. So, in the microcosm of your standmates, you’re together, but rushing ahead of the entire orchestra.

Then, of course, there’s the rushing where it’s too easy, I think that this is associated with music that has a lot of silence in the individual parts. A good example of this is probably the Donizetti "Daughter of the Regiment". Lots of the parts have little "oom-pah" or "dit-dit" parts – I think these have a tendency to rush because the overall tempo is not internalized (not by tapping the foot but getting the right subdivision of the overall tempo).  It’s incredibly important that when you play these accompaniment parts that you tune into the player that’s got the melody – be sure that you are supporting the melody rather than trying to fill in the silences – the melody takes care of filling in the silence, the accompaning parts just need to accompany.


What can we do about this?  I think that the most important thing to do is to take the time to listen to the sounds around you.  Playing together does not mean that you play your part, the guy next to you plays his part and the whole thing comes together like magic.  Playing together means listening to everything, especially the players that don’t happen to play the part you play.  Also, remember that music making is a social process, not a technical exercise – concentrate on making music, not the technique(1) – anyway, that’s what I try to do. 




I’m not suggesting that technique is unimportant, it’s just not the most important.  I’ve attended too many performances that were technically excellent but left me unmoved because of the lack of musicality.  I have more to say on that topic, but later.

Posted May 5, 2006 by jtruher3 in Music

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