The Notes Between

the notes between - redhead writingHave you ever watched a pianist?

Over the weekend, I took in some Ben Folds, Nora Jones and David Gray videos on YouTube. Always the sucker for the singer/songwriter combination with a lifelong appreciation for jazz and blues, something occurred to me while watching these videos this weekend. I actually watched instead of hiding them in a browser window behind the book proposal I was supposed to be finishing.

And something hit me about the beauty I found in every note they sang and played…

It was about every note they didn’t play…the space between…places where the words rested before the next line or verse began. The most meaningful parts of their songs were what wasn’t there – and in the absence, their talent grew rich. It’s like listening to a damn good jazz vocalist – they either sing ahead or play an artistic game of catch-up to the accompaniment. Crappy lounge singers sing on top of the music, killing the anticipation. Spoon feeding you. And that’s why it’s crap and why other artists (in any medium) go on to incomprehensible success.

The notes between are:

sweet, the moment between picking up a piece of dark chocolate and tasting the first bite

gut-wrenching, the moment between seeing an all-too-recent lover locked in a kiss with your successor and when you turn away

ecstasy, the moment between a joke well-told and the cramping in your side from laughing so hard

torture, the moment between asking her out and her actually saying yes

peaceful, the moment between when his hand touches your cheek and when your head melts into his shoulder

void, the moment between hearing that someone precious has passed and when the tears begin to fall

The notes between – you either get them or you don’t. When we spend our lives searching for the next big thing and those moments of blinding importance, we’re apt to miss the between times where the greatest treasures rest. You can’t manufacture or force them. They’re not on any menu. I don’t even think you can go to school to learn them. They’re intuitive – those moments we’re so instinctually ourselves it’s scary. We’re vulnerable, and from there, we open ourselves up to the greatest sensations and achievements possible. Victories earned, love discovered, souls lost, epic failure…all so profound that we can’t help it but to stand still for a moment when they arrive and introduce themselves.

27 comments
Shelly
Shelly

I sooo get the notes between. They are golden. I love, love, love your examples... I could feel every one of them :)

Twonormalmoms
Twonormalmoms

"When we spend our lives searching for the next big thing and those moments of blinding importance, we’re apt to miss the between times where the greatest treasures rest. You can’t manufacture or force them." - This is so true!!! I watched a family member try to 'make' those moments happen in the year before her mother died of cancer. It made me sad because she missed the real opportunities. The 'space between' - that's where all the 'real' moments were. Those are the moments I hold in my heart - that I will cherish forever. ...The space between your heart and mine is the space we'll fill with time... - DMB

erinlynn76
erinlynn76

Brilliant and insightful, as usual. I tend to kick myself when I've had too many notes between....the silences scare me. Must stop that method of thinking. Must begin to embrace the awareness that happens. Thank you.

joshua
joshua

Just another reminder that it's never the destination and always the journey. People spend all their time focusing on goals, timelines and destinations. They almost never take the moment to just look around and be a part of the experience that is happening right now. I am not sure exactly why I find the NOW and the silence in between so similar, but to me it seems appropriate.

The Redhead
The Redhead

Thanks for stopping by today - and for the extra add from Annie's book!

Kscanlon
Kscanlon

Erika, what a beautiful post. It reminds me of a passage in Annie Dillard's autobiographical "An American Childhood," when she describes the point at which a young child begins to become self aware: "Who could ever tire of this heart-stopping transition, of this breakthrough shift between seeing and knowing you see, between being and knowing you be? . . . Who could tire of it when the sum of those moments at the edge-the conscious life we so dread losing-is all we have, the gift at the moment of opening it?" So many notes between that we miss entirely.

JDFriend
JDFriend

So true, amazing! Thank you for a beautiful post. ~Julie

Darien
Darien

You HAVE to be gifted with the ability to play the notes in between, anyone can learn to play the piano, not everyone can learn to play silence to an advantage. I highly suggest looking into Vienna Teng, if you're not already familiar. She's heartachingly amazing, and if you enjoy her music, please let me treat you to her concert in Denver in January. I would consider it a privilege to introduce you to such an experience.

Janice Tomich
Janice Tomich

Erika; Your eloquent words made me stop today and think about leaving space for feeling. And how sometimes I forget to. A wise old soul shared with me that when we feel those special moments but then put logic to them that bit of 'nirvana' slips away. I didn't understand it when I was told these wise words at 18 but now at 54 I do.... Erica, you have touched many hearts today. ~ Janice

Gary Olson
Gary Olson

Erika - I stumbled upon your blog a couple days ago, and I've gotta admit, I'm mildly obsessed. This post really struck a cord with me, Thanks so much!

Barb McMahon
Barb McMahon

This is so beautiful and so true... We fear vulnerability so much, and yet it's the one thing that makes life worth living (or even possible).

Amy Oscar
Amy Oscar

Oh, Erika. This is precious, priceless wisdom, beautifully offered. Your writing gets sweeter and more powerful every week. Whenever I see that you've got a new post up, I race over to see it, to read and to savor it. Truly, this blog has become, for me, one of those 'notes between.' Bravo, love.

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by RedheadWriting, Barb McMahon and Amy Oscar, Kelly Scanlon. Kelly Scanlon said: RT @ShellyKramer The Notes Between ( RedheadWriting) http://ow.ly/3dI2S | via @RedheadWriting (beautiful writing, message even more so) […]