There are lots of things we need to think about when we play and perform. Tone, air, notes, as well as staying together with our pianist, recording track or other people.
One thing that sometimes we forget is that texture is an important thing to think about too. If we are supposed to think about this, in the words of one my students “how can [we] learn to understand “texture” as musician[s]?” And why do I make such a big deal about it?
This is why. 🙂
Musical texture is a combination of contrasts that come together to create an overall effect. It’s like an Impressionist painting. The painters of the Impressionist era used different layers, colors and brushstrokes on their canvas that when looked at up close sometimes don’t make any sense at all.
But, when you take a step back, every little speck of paint comes together to form the most incredible picture, a picture that makes you feel like it’s still moving, or still happening. It gives it a kind of emotional quality, and it makes you stop and think. At least it does that for some people. 🙂
Here is a fun musical example. Grieg: Peer Gynt/ Järvi – Berliner Philharmoniker (It’s only 2:33, you have time 😉 )
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Listen to how each instrument creates a slightly different feeling. Each instrument has their specific part to play, staccato boom-chuck accompaniment, melody line, whirly/trill figures, etc. All these different parts contrast each other, and together layered on top of each other, they create a musical texture that makes the experience complete.
If you left one of these parts out, it would be like forgetting to add salt to your dinner. The food might be good, but without the salt, it’s not satisfying.
Musical texture is a combination of contrasts that come together to create an overall effect.
Another things that is really important is that is enough, but not too much of each element. Can you imagine what would have happened if the bassoons forgot to come in at 0:36?? There wouldn’t have been any mystery anymore!! So in musical texture, it is reaaallly important that every instrument plays their part correctly and musically.
We can create our own contrasts and textures in our individual flute parts. Our texture comes from the contrast of articulation. It’s not just tongue, slur, staccato, tenuto, accent, Oh no!! There is soooo much more! There are wet staccatos, dry staccatos, sharp staccatos, rude staccatos, light staccatos, hard tongue, soft tongue, wide tongue, delicate tongue, and that’s just the beginning!
We have to tell a story, or have a conversation or something when we’re playing. Try it out! What texture can you create??