music lessons from space

I'd like to think every musician – or anyone constantly engaged with the art of interpretation – experiences this at some point.

That is to say that, at some point in one's development, one begins to feel the so called "analysis paralysis". More specifically, the idea that when thinking of the possible phrasings, fingerings, timbres, and various other subtleties to impart upon any given passage, one can become victim in that having developed the skill to "see" myriad choices makes it more difficult, not so much to make a suitable choice but rather, to execute. As if the constant cries of "and yet you could have gone down this road instead" rain upon the mind's ear mid-measure.

As with many such things in life, those of such intimate introversion, no direct prescriptive aid from others exists. But it does help to hear others speak of it.

And so I found myself the other day, ramshackled as I was, infirmed and enveloped in my bed.

I was watching a few of the "The Captains" series. In this, THE Captain – or rather he who originally portrayed James Tiberius Kirk in the original Star Trek series – interviews other actors who've also commanded their own starship in one of the franchise's spin-offs.

In the interview with Patrick Stewart, William Shatner discusses this phenomenon with Stewart and Stewart's son, also an actor. Both Shatner, who cites the complexities in even delivering the word "Hello", and Stewart's son seem to agree that interpretation gets more difficult over time. At this point, Stewart says – and I attempt to quote from memory – "I think you're in that middle stage." Meaning that, another level awaits, the so-called "third level" as some call it, where one's skill becomes to immense that one truly becomes free.

Granted, I have no illusions – or rather delusions – of getting there. Though I have definitely experienced it for brief moments during playing. Athletes call it "the zone" but for an artist to live there and not merely visit on occasion seems an extra-ordinary thing. In truth, I've seen only a handful of performers who I've heard play with this level of true virtuosity.

I should add that I first heard the phrase "analysis through paralysis" "paralysis through analysis" in music school. I've never forgotten it and with time, I think of it all the more.

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