Monday, 18 March 2019

Allow discord the time and space to resolve

After listening to one of his masterclass pupils play a Beethoven piano sonata Daniel Barenboim, the famous conductor and pianist, made a deceptively simple comment; he said that one should never rush when there is a clash: that it should be given the time and space to be played out.

The pupils attending the master class were well-accomplished pianists who possessed an in-depth knowledge of the music in front of them. In spite of this, however, Barenboim felt he needed to make the above observation; the pianists, for all their facility and expertise, were finding it difficult to fight a deeply ingrained need to move quickly away from ‘notes of discord’.

Barenboim was talking about musical dissonance and how to resolve it elegantly during a musical performance, but the principle of staying with dissonance rather than quickly leaving it behind has resonance within non-musical contexts.

Many of us gloss-over disagreements and conflicts as quickly as we can, so minimising the dissonance we experience between others and ourselves. We often do this, despite knowing that it would be best to provide the time and space within which notes of discord could fully resolve.

When faced with a conflict or disagreement, a note of discord between others and yourself, stay with it. Be curious, despite your instinctive foreboding, and work at finding the best way to play things out to a mutually satisfying conclusion.

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