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yankeetooter's avatar

For those of you who have played in a musical ensemble of some sort, or sung with a group of people, do you feel a special connection with those people that only seems to be related to music?

Asked by yankeetooter (8562 points ) May 8th, 2011

When everything is in sync, when you’re all “on the same page” musically speaking, do you feel this connection, a unity between you? Maybe it’s just me, but music does this for me…Music touches me and moves me like few other things do, and the feeling seems to increase when there are others involved. Thoughts?

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20 Answers

YoBob's avatar

Absolutely! In fact, I have gone as far as saying that when performing its less of a matter of music coming from you, but rather through you. When you are in an ensemble all of you plug in to the same stream. It’s nothing short of magic! (I am not being metaphorical. I truly believe it is a form of ritual magic that increases exponentially with the number of participants. It’s the same thing as the power of prayer. There is a branch of science called noetics that is working to quantify this phenomenon)

In a couple of instances, I developed this weird psychic connection with other members of various bands. In one particular instance, to this day literally decades later we still have that connection and although it has begun to fade through the decades it’s still there.

yankeetooter's avatar

I’m glad someone else has felt that. Music is such a powerful part of my life and can affect me strongly. For me, singing in particular touches my soul profoundly. I can be in a very low mood, but if I can get myself to sing (or sometimes just listen to music), my mood can never remain very low. I’m sure some of it is for physiological reasons…better posture, better breathing, etc., but I feel it goes beyond that. And when others are involved, it seems to increase the effect…The sum of the parts is greater than the whole, or something like that…

Sunny2's avatar

I’ve been singing with a group which over 25 years has ranged in size from 200 to 40 and back to 90 and has had 3 different directors. We come in tired on a rehearsal Monday night and leave with a sense of joy from working with the music. Being amid the wonderful chords we sing is such a fulfilling involvement and we feel like a cohesive instrument recreating the composer’s creation. I love it.

yankeetooter's avatar

What sort of group is it, @Sunny2?

DeanV's avatar

Good bands, absolutely. It’s a good feeling to play with a group of people completely improvised and have everyone know when to switch the song up and write a different part right there on the spot.

Bad bands, I’ve found it to be quite the opposite. If the people you play with are not competent enough to even know when to change up a song after a 16 bar variation or cannot even “be on the same page”, it actually starts to undermine what you think of them not just as musicians, but as coherent thinkers. I’m all for unity and togetherness, but when you are not physically able to feel that unity or togetherness with someone, it affects the way you look at some other things that you do together. It really bothers me when someone tells me they know music theory well but then you go to play with them and they play the same guitar part for an entire song or just solo over the 12 bar blues.

It’s definitely a deep-seeded connection either way, though.

yankeetooter's avatar

Gee, @zen , don’t talk so much. Others would like to get a chance to answer…I kid…

Sunny2's avatar

@yankeetooter It’s a community chorale. We have sung the Verdi Requiem at Carnegie Hall so we do serious music. Lately, however we do one concert a year that is less formal, like All Gershwin numbers or British composers including the Beatles, Elton John and Bohemian Rhapsody from Queen. The audience may have a sing-along between our singing. I enjoy the variety.

KateTheGreat's avatar

Every choir or ensemble I have ever performed with has had that special connection. When things are going great and we are in tune, we are perfect harmonious people. We lose ourselves in the music and creativity is abundant!

yankeetooter's avatar

That sounds great, @Sunny2!

_zen_'s avatar

I’m not saying another word til I see some lurve. How disrespectful. I shouted Yes – which is the correct answer to this question, imho, and you commented on my comment, yet showed no lurve. I even lurved you. Sheesh.

wundayatta's avatar

Of course! I think it happens in different ways, depending on the group. I.e., the connection between members of a chorus are different that the connections between members of a marching band, which are different from the connections in a jazz ensemble.

I do a lot of thinking about this, because I have a good deal of experience with it. What I talk about below is my theory about what is going on. I am not telling you what is happening, even though I say “you” all the time. That’s just my way of thinking. It’s really my experience and my thinking about it and my theories about what is going on.

When you are all doing your part, and it meshes perfectly, something happens—like a door opening inside your spirit—and you become aware that you are not separate from everyone else. You feel everyone in the ensemble in, well, it’s hard to describe because it doesn’t happen in our linguistic brains.

It happens in a part of our brain that doesn’t “speak” words and doesn’t have words. It’s a part of our brain that experiences the world directly, without any mediation by symbols. We are no longer telling each other our experience, we are experiencing the communication of that experience directly. The music facilitates that, but it doesn’t have to be music. Dance can do the same thing.

So, when directly communicating our experience to others, we become like one. We become aware of everyone (although we aren’t aware that we are aware, exactly). This unaware awareness allows us to tune together and match each other, and then everything clicks into place and it feels like you are everywhere. And nowhere.

Very few people can maintain both this kind of experience and the symbolic experience at the same time. So we often don’t even remember very much about what happened. We know in a vague way that something important happened. We can say we experienced this connection, but we don’t know why or how; only that we want more of it.

I do improvisational music. There’s no score and no sheet music of any kind. No chordal structure that has been agreed on in advance. For this to work, everyone has to listen very carefully to everyone else. There’s a lot to pay attention to. It’s not just rhythm and chords and melody. It’s also a feel, an emotion, and a direction.

When it works well—when everyone is on exactly the same page; it’s as if there is a score, and we’re all reading it together and playing it and everything fits just right. At this moment, it feels like I’m no longer just me, but I’m everyone in the group. We are all thinking together. We all know what everyone else is going to do and it is so tight it’s like being safely buckled into your seat. You can’t move without all of you moving together.

I think that what enables this to happen is our experience with music and our skill with listening and our willingness to give ourselves up to the whole. If you’ve listened to a lot of music, it’s like reading a lot of books or seeing a lot of movies: there are only so many plots. So when we feel like we are moving together it is because we have recognized the plot we are playing and we are following it.

We also know each other. We know each other’s favorite riffs and favorite motifs, and so we give each other the space to shine when it is that time. We trust each other. This allows us to lose ourselves in the music. We no longer have to think and plan and we don’t worry about whether we fit in. We just do it.

I close my eyes and I enter into an interior visual space where I see lights moving, and I have the impression there are colors, although I don’t remember seeing them. Sometimes the different parts of the music appear like building blocks and I rearrange them to fit whatever needs fitting at the time. I can see impulses coming like a bullet train from far away and I can jump that train at the same time everyone else does.

I could go on and on about this. Each thought leads to another, but I’ve gone on a length already, and as @yankeetooter said, I should probably give others a chance to answer.

yankeetooter's avatar

@zen Sorry to be neglectful…Now I can say…Can you feel the lurve tonight?

I even “lurved” your complaint, lol!

yankeetooter's avatar

Don’t say that @wundayatta. @zen will use that as an excuse for not talking much. lol!

Sunny2's avatar

@wundayatta I really liked what you wrote, May I share it with my fellow singers?

dxs's avatar

Yes, especially when in unison with someone else. During a part of a song, I am dueting with a flute and we work together to keep ourselves in time. I have the harmony, as I do most of the time. I like harmonizing, though. I feel that it is a big part of music for me because I tend to do a lot of arranging versus just plain composing. In arrangements, I feel that harmonizing is probably the most important part, but so is drama and adding your own special effects obviously.

wundayatta's avatar

@Sunny2 Of course you can. Thanks for asking.

yankeetooter's avatar

Yes, @dxs, I sing alto in my choir, or even when we’re just singing hymns. Sometimes I sing tenor an octave higher, which throws the sopranos off because they’re not used to anyone singing higher than them. That’s okay, it’s good for them to have a challenge once in a while, lol!

I love singing the harmony, and sometimes when the harmony is not printed I will just improvise. Yesterday, we had less choir members there than usual, and the blending was spectacular. I really got caught up in the ensemble work we were doing…

_zen_'s avatar

I always respectfully shut up after a wundayatta. That’s right: it’s a noun now.

dxs's avatar

@zen when wasn’t it?

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