Music is the Space Between the Notes

“Music is the space between the notes.” ~Claude Debussy

When I was a young pianist, I loved playing Claude Debussy. His first Arabesque was one of my favourites; the romantic interlude, fluid melody and vaporous softness enticed buoyancy through my imagination.

In classical music, arabesque denotes a piece of floral and decorative music that merges exotic and flow. Debussy was known for his Deux Arabesque, which were composed in 1888 and 1889 amidst French Impressionism. He was influenced by art forms at the time that depict natural lights in its mutable gaze. His first Arabesque contains many gestures of such luminous arch. As each melody phrases into his harmonic presence, translucent movement contours through pace.

Such beautiful consonance is in fact, interpreted as much by audible as by what is unheard. Deliberate absence highlights dulcet presence. Focus allows space to emerge as full being. What isn’t there gives shape to what becomes the process.

Our work, in so many instances is simply to yield that space. Whether creating music, writing a poem, solving a problem or addressing a speech, the “work” had already been done. Our job in the moment, is to allow.

Framing the space is the craft. How do we determine what goes and what stays? Marie Kondo claims in her book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” that, “the question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life”. “Attachment to the past and fears concerning the future” cultivates clutter. Instead, choose to keep only what truly “spark joy”.

Space cultivates being. That which “sparks joy” emerges from the recognition of redundancy. As we reduce noise and invite space, harmony derives. Our natural lyrics converge into focus. Expressed as presence.

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