A Silent Moment

Artie Isaac, a Columbus native, who works at an award-winning, creative marketing strategy and advertising agency, recently made a presentation to City Year Columbus on the topic of ethics in speech.

One of the great questions of the day was, “What’s the hardest part of maintaining ethical speech?”

The answer? Silence.

He writes quite brilliantly on this topic in his own blog at Net Cotton Content, and therefore, I won’t retell the whole story. I will just repeat his closing thoughts about a time in which he showed tact by staying quiet:

But, man, that moment is still awkwardly quiet. Because there are certainly things that could be said.

Isn’t that true in music as well? How often do we composers look to stock filler because the silence is just too overbearing? A run; churning arpeggios in the inner voices; overly complex transitions—there are plenty of easy ways to fill those isolated seconds of silence.

I’d venture to say that there is definitely a sense of “tact” in composition. The audience, knowingly or not, will develop a set of expectations for each piece they hear. They know when you have gone too far, said too much, i.e., left out the silence.

It wouldn’t be a surprise if the audience caught a faux pas before the composer. Surely, as in speech, a great deal of control must be developed over time so as to not go to far.

The hardest part is a silent moment.

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