How to write about music. Especially instrumental music. This dilemma has befuddled me for quite sometime.
I often perform in quiet but background situations and I get to observe peoples reactions to my music as they converse, drink or eat. One peculiar observation is that if I play only instrumental music, that is music composed without any lyrics, for a time and then switch to an instrumental version of a song, I can almost see people brains twisting in the heads as the brain switches from it's non-verbal side to it's verbal side. The real problem for me as a performer is that most people are far more comfortable with the verbal side of their brain than the non-verbal side. Once they get to the verbal side they don't want to leave. This has led me as a performer to drop all my arrangements of songs and concentrate on strictly instrumental music in my performances. (Perhaps I am more comfortable in my non-verbal side of my brain.) People want me to play familiar music when they ask for requests, which usually means a song, not an instrumental tune. So I guess I am becoming an ambassador for the joys of instrumental music and residing in the non-verbal part of the brain.
Which leads me to the original question. How to write about instrumental music? How to express verbally what is non-verbal?
When music reviewer write about CDs they write about the song lyrics, or they compare it to another performance by the same or a different musician. they rarely mention anything about their emotional response or the musical structure other than the rhythm or speed of the music.
I could write about the technique used by the musician in the performance or the musical structure of the piece but that does not convey the emotion that is ultimately what the brain reacts to with music. Does instrumental music elicit a purely emotional response? It certainly seems that way to me as I listen to music and watch the audience as I perform.
So how do I write about emotional responses? I'm still working on that part.
In the meantime, I'll be performing instrumental solo guitar music at Loveland Aleworks this Friday night November 8th at 7:30pm and I promise not to twist your brain from one side to the other. I'll let the Stout do that.