The month of April is particular for this feeling of transition, the end of a season and the beginning of another, the mourning of a life stage and the welcoming of a new process. The month where we use to say in French "don't discover yourself by a thread" paradoxically is often the month where we have an irrepressible desire to expose ourselves as soon as the first rays of sunlight appear, to offer ourselves entirely to this impulse. One minute later, the clouds come back, like a return to the awareness that one season is first to be closed before starting the next. Life stages. Places of resistances, apprenticeship, conflicts sometimes, paradoxes, questions and then let go. You don't pull the stem of a flower to make it grow faster !
In classical music, we are used to follow a score, even though it seems at some point to be assimilated, infused or merged into us to such an extent that, as the famous Jorge Bolet said, we are sometimes more familiar with it than the composer himself because of the amount of time we spent together with this music - a whole lifetime - revisiting all the infinite layers of the work. When I met shamans in Mongolia, these humans so powerfully linked to their intuitions, I was confronted with the idea of free will. Are we free ? And free of what ? For the Mongols, this is not an issue. Or it can be landed somewhere else. There is no resignation nor cynicism among them. Yet freedom as we understand it (and how many definitions there are according to who talks about it and how much emotion it contains) is not the research. It seems as anecdotal as it is illusory. For them, it is like a score that we are free to experiment, to make it sound, with more or less intensity, to savor each note or to read at full speed, to transmit, to seek its globally or to work on details, to make it resonate loudly or gently, to look for its perfectible beauty or to create certain reliefs that have never been explored before... To live it and make it live ! Aristotle brilliantly wrote "Slavery is about depending on someone smaller than yourself. Freedom is about depending on someone greater than yourself."
Like a score, this "greater than oneself", this infinite field of exploration, is our life. I often compare the interpretation to an exhibition curator who carefully and with inspiration chooses how to bring out a room through a particular light or perspective. Things are there, existing. It is up to me to reveal them, to celebrate them, to choose what form I want to give them. Depending on the place, the time, the mood or my history. Here, the boundary between the art of receiving, welcoming and creating is elusive - impalpable. Because it is One.
Similarly, the more we attach ourselves to the notes, to the keyboard, the more likely we are to get tense, to stretch, which will have the effect of ruining the experience. The more you "let go", the more the sound can resonate. Take a xylophone for example ! If you leave your stick on the key, the sound won't resonate, it will get stuck, locked up. The more you let the resonance breathe, the more it will unfold its harmonics. By listening to these resonances I can then create the connections between the notes. And more extraordinary : most of technical difficulties disappear ! They no longer exist ! They collapse as does the resistance of muscles, the gestures, fears, beliefs... In this relaxation, I can play everything. Since I was a child, I have been learning through my instrument that it is by relaxing that things can be done. The tension creates clenching and the clenching an impossibility to go further... Why don't we think about putting this musician's philosophy into practice !
That's what April inspires me. Period of spring, renewal, transformation, plants, flowers, caterpillar butterfly, bud tulip. Forcing, using will or resistance where everything is done naturally would be counterproductive.
This is also what Ravel's Concerto for the left hand teaches me as I performed it again this month. This work can quickly become an assembly of insoluble technical prowess or, on the contrary, a magnificent place to explore to release all the power of the arm, hand and body. The audience sometimes focuses only on this left hand while the hand is a detail, a last link in the chain. There is all the momentum, the thought, the gesture, the sensation, the emotion, even before the sound resounds. Like Indiana Jones ! At the edge of the abyss, he chose not to back eat to try to jump far enough - a futile attempt regarding to the space separating him from one side to another - but to rely on something greater than himself, where is the "impossible" and necessary letting go of all rational understanding. As my tightrope walker friend Philippe Petit used to say "it is impossible. So let's do it !"
Marc Aurèle, the Roman emperor and stoic philosopher taught us the essential : "Give me the courage to change what I can change, the wisdom to accept what I cannot change and the discernment to know how to recognize each other."
At the turn of a technical difficulty, my little master's voice echoes : "you're too attaches to the keyboard !" So I let these chords sound and following to each other by trusting that the hand will find its right way, position, as an animal's paw, at a dazzling speed, can catch anything it wants, without any effort, with even more power. Suddenly, the sound resonate in all its beauty !
To which "greater than you" do you connect to yourself to free yourself better ?
With wisdom, Hélène Tysman