Archive for October, 2010

Duet

October 1, 2010

The idea that we are alone at all times is a strong one. We are supposed to take it for granted that we are a part of a family or a community, but our physical individuality dictates that we live most of life as a single and isolated being. We have emotional ties, psychological ties and intellectual ties with others and perhaps most people confuse these ties with being a part of those around us. We are distinct entities, though when we can, we share.

But the artist, the decision-making addict, must make creative choices alone. The artist takes responsibility for their own decisions, accepting the risk of failure because the challenge of creating new knowledge offers the reward of better understanding the world we live on. What we observe around us we draw into ourselves as stimulus, inspiration or provocation, to spit out later as creative output.

It is because of these conflicting stresses that I admire the duet as much as the solo. The great solo may be a tour-de-force. A solo gives free rein to explore and push boundaries, but it can be isolated and limiting if it means that we ignore the background rhythms that give the solo its context, if not also its meaning.

The duet, whether two voices or a pair of instruments, has another quality beyond the performance aspect of the solo. The duet is built through communication and collaboration. The language, the tone, the rhythm must all be in sync, and finding that syncronisation is a huge challenge given our individuality. No two people can really be said to speak the same language – we always compromise, making allowances for understanding and being flexible in how we express ourselves to ensure that the partner has understood.

Social constructs show how much we depend on compatibility and synergy. The aircraft falls quickly from the sky if the fuel tank is empty, though that is a mechanical and inflexible rule. The duet is an interplay of flexibility.

It demonstrates performance, collaboration and dialogue. The ability of two singers to generate and control rhythms that stem from two differing decision-making processes is hugely complex but immensely rewarding as an aspect of our humanity.


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