Friday, September 02, 2005

Separate = The Distance Between

continuing on a theme...

The distance between the lowest and highest keys on the piano keyboard is 48 inches. The distance between San Francisco, CA and Mexico City is almost 1900 miles. There's hardly any comparison, I suppose, yet when one-half of Sidecar Syndicate departed for another nine months south of the border, the duo attempted to assuage separation anxiety with a musical analogy. "We'll be like left hand and right hands at the piano, sometimes far apart or practicing separately, but eventually getting back together and making our projects whole." Can working separately toward a common set of goals satisfy our collaborative needs? Can we provide support, encouragement, and criticism over such a distance? Most importantly, will we be able to stitch our individual efforts into a successful performance once we get back together? Hmm. One of us is skeptical.

A pianist understands that in performance, the two hands must act as one; they must suggest one musical idea. The individual techniques--practicing hands alone, drilling some small snippet of right-left/left-right passagework, miming larger shifts of weight in broad, rhythmic gestures--isolate problem areas and train independence but always aim to serve the whole. Though it might sound contradictory, fiercely independent hands are best able to express a variety of ways of being together musically: supportive (accompanimental) or conversational (contrapuntal) or teasingly antagonistic. (There is a wry passage in John Zorn's "Carny" where one hand plays an E Major scale in contrary motion to the other's F Major scale; it's a no-hard-feelings kind of argument.) The piano hands are an excellent model, actually, of a duo relationship that is collaborative but not codependent. Perhaps Sidecar Syndicate can emulate that, working separately and still putting shows together in complex and varied ways. These next few months might not provide as much social satisfaction, but as Miss Anne pointed out, "there's always the internet!"

I guess that means it's time for me--solo me!--to get to work.


Paraphrasing Anne's reply--

Oh, are you really skeptical? Sometimes it does feel like a long distance love: I look at others, am sometimes distracted, but am often thinking of you. Two hands? Yes, but isn't there an element in our work that is more like the relationship of composer to performer? We can create completely away from each other, and then study each other's work separately. Hunt and try to figure out why it works the way it does; analyze and make it (y)our own. This kind of back and forth "correspondence" is much more independent then the right and left hand analogy but a constant practice in the musical world. The composer/performer relationship has always intrigued me.

By Blogger Heather, at 8:15 AM  

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