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The musician is at home in a harmony of sound and silence. Our primary attention is initially and naturally directed to sound. Sound is the external appearance of music and it has features and characteristics that can be described. Sound also relieves us of our solitude and establishes connections. Silence, on the other hand, remains initially internalised, seemingly subjective, self contained and isolated. In silence, our experience of the world recedes and our experience of isolation and interiority increases. In silence we are withdrawing into our self. The importance of silence, of that which is closest to us, is, however, often least likely to be noticed and understood.

Sound without silence would be noise. Silence without sound would leave us with an empty void. Silence in fact determines musical sound as the phenomenon of rhythm and rest indicate already within musical appearance. Silence describes the space between sounds. Without silence, musical sound would thus lack meaning. Silence is threatened by incessant talk, chatter or babble which undermines music and leads listeners into confusion. A performance culture which demands increasingly noisy, extrovert or flamboyant sounds to stimulate the attention of an audience, leads to a neglect and decline of silence. In the mistaken belief that more attention to sound will also generate more attention to the performance extrovert activism underestimates the importance of silence to sound. However, without silence, sound becomes nonsense.

Initially the phenomenon of sound is a phenomenon of semblance. In silence, semblance is suspended and truth may be uncovered. Yet, silence itself is mute. It is unable to articulate itself. Silence has a negative, fleeing appearance. It is present because sound is absent. The sounding semblance thus becomes necessary to direct us towards its ground: silence. From the perspective of silence, sound acquires an instrumental dimension. It uncovers silence, which is always already there.

A musical performance is initially heard as sound. But its meaning is gathered in its silence. We often do not attend to this, focussing instead on the obvious: sounding semblance. Sound and silence also determine our relationships. Continuous sound, incessant babble and chatter drive us to despair, lead to withdrawal into silence and a fragmentation of community. A dialogue in which silence is gathered is among the most successful forms of communication- hence the importance of humour, ambiguity and questioning to discourse. These are means of gathering silence. Musicians must heed silence for more than musical reason as their understanding, community and harmony is determined by it.