The New York Times’ Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim, focusing on a recital by clarinetist Marton Fröst and pianist Henrik Mawe as part of the “Live Music Meditation” series at Princeton University, examines the constructive role of silence both within music and around performances of it:
David Felberg, a violinist and conductor who directs a similar series, Chatter, in Albuquerque, tells Fonseca-Wollheim that silence serves as “a bit of a palate-cleanser. It’s almost like you’re fresh and ready to listen to the music.”
I can attest to that from personal experience. Some years ago, while working on assorted household projects, I heard no music for nearly three days. After that fast, the first music I was exposed to – keyboard sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti, as it happened – I heard as I had not heard music for many years.
After writing about that experience, I was invited by the University of Richmond’s Jennifer Cable to help her students replicate that experience. Few managed it. Music was omnipresent in their environment – they couldn’t escape, even for a few hours.
These days, silence has to be programmed.