This spring I splurged and bought a manuscript page from a 15th century Italian choir book. I had it mounted and hung on my wall - close to the entrance. There is glass on both sides, so I can turn it over and enjoy the flip side as well. When I look at the beautiful calligraphy, it makes me think on the monk in his monastery spending hours on the illuminated first letter alone. And I think on the hundreds of people who have held this book - turned this exact page and through singing experienced fellowship and comfort. There is a great anonymity to this antique - it makes me worship humanity as a whole.
A friend of mine once acquired an original page from a Mozart manuscript. He gave it to a concert pianist friend and protege, making him promise that he would keep it with him and before he went on stage; take it out, unbutton his shirt and rub it all over his chest! This is a lovely sentiment, yet there is something potentially elitist in this scenario! My manuscript encourages humility...
When we perform music, we are fostering community - it is a shared experience that binds us together in that particular moment. Connections are being made between the performers on stage, between performers and audience, and also to the creators of the music. In a larger sense, we also connect with anyone who has ever enjoyed this particular piece of music, and in the broadest sense, we tap into the collective subconscious and can achieve the ultimate goal of erasing our bothersome sense of self - to be absorbed in the great, mystical, impersonal life-force.
...Yet other times, I go to work, squeeze out a few sounds - hoping they are somewhat appropriate; in tune/in time/not-offensive-sounding - and go home...
It is my hope that my nameless monk-friend from the 1400's will keep reminding me why I am a musician: The tremendous power of music to heal and connect our aching souls. The awesome beauty of sound.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!