When It’s Time To Listen

I just gasped out loud when I read this about violas, and practically jumped out of my seat. Said by Trey Anastasio of Phish, in the book “Music” by Andrew Zuckerman:

“The musician only has one job and that’s to listen. Listening is the essence of all great musicianship… When I studied with my composition teacher, he used to say, “The music is in the middle voices. Check out the violas. Check out the middle voices in the chords. That’s where the action is.”

HELL YES. The life of a violist in an orchestra or band is that they very rarely drive the melody of a song. We spend our lives listening closely to melodies and then fill in what is missing, find what’s needed. This role may not sound glamorous, but I’ve always been grateful for this aspect of my training. I’m certain it’s played a role in why I constantly search for new sounds, and trained me to find unexpected ways to express and idea, song or vision.

When it comes to the viola, action is indeed everything. It’s one thing to have the ability to create a melody. But throw a song at any skilled violist, and we’ll find countless ways to take the tune to a new, more complex level.

Here is the trailer to this music and photography project that Andrew Zuckerman did in 2010:

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