the joys of articulation

Articulation is important.

In everything.

Things have to be clear. Music, words, dance. It takes time to be articulate, but it’s worth it. Inarticulate speech could lead to misunderstanding. Inarticulate dance (whatever that is, I haven’t danced for a while) can lead to injury as well as confusion. (Stomp dancing, anyone?) Inarticulate music could lead to some pounding headaches… and an audience wondering what the heck was it you were playing.

My piano teacher is an extremely articulate player. When I first started taking lessons with him, a few months ago, he constantly bugged me about my inarticulate playing. Every single lesson, I heard, “articulationarticulationarticulation.” It was great. He even drew a lovely picture of a tree with raindrops in an attempt to explain to me how important articulation was. (Each note is a raindrop that falls from the sky that falls into a tree that drips off the edge of a leaf which drips into a puddle…) Because I knew so much about playing the notes, but so little about making them clear and distinct. If you gave me an advanced level piece, I could tell you what notes are written down. I wouldn’t be able to tell you how to bring them to life.

“Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the flute or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes?” – 1 Corinthians 14:7

And articulation does have a lot to do with bringing something to life. As an artist, whatever kind, often times your job is to make something real and alive for the listener or viewer or whomever. How can people benefit if they don’t know what it is you’re saying? Articulation alone is not life, but you can make a beginning from it.

You take something lifeless and inarticulate, and bring vision, clarity, and LIFE to it.

You do that by working hard. You do that by paying attentions to the nuances of something.

You do that by pouring your heart into it.

That’s true artistry. And that’s what I’m trying to learn.

Sadly, I have no idea how articulate this blog post is. My brain is tired because this week is really busy.