Our perception can change drastically depending on what we choose to focus on.
Whenever I think back on a backpacking trip, I am always interested to find that it can take on different feelings. Most of the time, it feels like it wasn’t that long. Perspective makes even a three-week trip seem fleeting. It can also invoke feelings of nostalgia, exhaustion, ecstasy, or even nausea when viewed from different sides.
I can look back at a trip like looking at a diorama. I can stand back and take in the whole thing and have a certain feeling about it. It even feels approachable like I could perceive the entirety of it. But then I can zoom in and see that mountain that kicked my butt, that beautiful camp site, that rain storm. And then I can zoom in even further and see that tree that caught my eye, that conversation with another hiker, that owl that sat above my tent calling to its brothers.
I can keep doing this and realize that there is an infinity of emotion in any single moment and all of it could be perceptible if I just focus on different areas.
Music feels this way too. There is an infinite web of simultaneous layers going on that mimics the state of the world. I can feel something about the whole piece, something different about a certain section, and something entirely different about a certain note.
Performing, to me, is about trying to see as many of these layers as I can. I start by thinking about a piece like a whole hiking trip. And then I can focus on a mountain or campsite. And then I can focus on a tree. And I don’t necessarily focus on the same thing every time I play a piece.
What’s great about this aspect of music is that it’s the same as thinking about the world. I can have a memory of my family that I like viewing from different angles. I might treasure focusing on different aspects of a memory of people I met at a summer festival.
Part of the beauty of the world is that it exists in so many simultaneous layers and that we can perceive them all if we just focus from different angles.