“Which style of music do you like playing the most?” This is a very common question, and one that I dread! I am never able to answer the question the way that people would like… with a simple answer. Nothing in life is ever simple!
I was thinking about this the other day and remembered the song lyrics “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you are with…” Well, it is a little like that with music, except that I love them all, I just love the one I am with at that time the most… at least for the moment…
My various styles of music include classical, baroque and Celtic… All three have their own appeal to me! Celtic music, or fiddle music in general, has a lot of freedom to it. I learn a lot of music from sheet music (due to my classical training), but that sheet music is only a guideline. It is the skeleton of the music, but it is up to you to flesh it out with your own arrangement and your own ornaments. I love playing in a Celtic band where I get to make up all of my back-up fiddle parts. All improve, all the time. It was terrifying at first, but I enjoy the freedom and creativity of it now.
The main thing I love about classical music is playing with other people, either in a small ensemble like a string quartet, or in a larger ensemble like a symphony orchestra. I remember the first day that I played in an orchestra… Well, I think the word play is not really appropriate as I just sat that and took it all in for most of the rehearsal. It is truly amazing to sit in the middle of that much sound and to know that you are adding to it! It is amazing the way that all of the pieces fit together to make one glorious sound! I especially love playing harmony parts in both chamber groups and orchestras. I love being a part of what makes it more that a simple (or sometimes not so simple) melody.
Baroque music is an interesting mix of the two. Last summer I was talking to a friend who told me that he had studied classical guitar at Peabody and found the music too regimented so he decided that he was either going to go into jazz or Baroque music. On the surface, this sounds crazy, but theses two styles are related in that (like fiddle music) the sheet music is a guideline and you can really make it your own with your own ornaments and improvisations. I love the chamber music aspect to Baroque music as well.
So, I know that it is a cop-out, but I really don’t prefer one style. Every now and then I think that I do, until the next time that I play a different style, at which point I think “Oh yeah, that is why I love this style of music!” It is all fun for a different reason, so I will continue to “Love the one I am with…”
[Kissing Frogs image usage graciously provided by Been-Seen.com]