The art of silence
I recently interviewed Abraham Laboriel Sr. who is known as one the top bass players of our time. He has played on over 4000 albums and has played for Michael Jackson, Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Madonna etc. His son plays drums for Paul McCartney. (Good genes!)
He said this “Music is science of combining sound and silence. Some of the wisest philosophers would say ‘silence is golden’ and so as musicians sometimes we are called to not be afraid to be still before the Lord with our instruments and let that silence express the very beauty that music was created to be.”
Creativity comes as a result of knowing that the space that you create is just as important as the sound you make.
Sometimes we can get so caught up in making music and making noise that we can forget that the sound of silence can have just as much impact as if we were to make sound with our instruments. If we can discover the art of it and the beauty of it, then when we play, our creativity will have more impact and more purpose than just constant sound.
Think of a great communicator. One of the greatest technique’s a communicator can use is a pause in a sentence “And the winner is….” That pause creates tension, it makes you sit on the edge of your seat waiting to hear the answer.
The artist, Truman Fisher said this “The pause is as important as the note.”
So don’t be afraid to let the silence speak through your playing, sometimes the best thing we can do to support a song or a moment in worship is not to actually play. Sounds crazy I know, but if we are confident in the gifting that God has given us, when the time comes to allow silence, it will be a moment where God speaks in a real and intimate way.
I think this definition of music also refers to us and our daily lives, not only through music. We need to take time out for ourselves, to allow silence and to hear the very voice of God.
1 kings 19:11 The LORD said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by." Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"
In the busyness of life, we need to learn to be silent, to shut out all of life’s distractions so that we can hear God’s voice and obey.
That verse that we all know so well ‘I stand at the door and knock’ Rev 3:20 was not originally written for the unbeliever, in fact it was written for the believer. If you think of that verse in that way, it takes on a whole new meaning to the verse. Our father and creator of the heavens and earth, stand’s at the door of our heart and knocks, longing to have relationship with us.
So maybe for yourself you need to find somewhere in your daily schedule when you can allow some time and space for God to speak and also for you to be still. But it is in that place where I will hear His voice, it is in that place where an idea will spark, it’s in that place that I have relationship with the Father.
Mother Teresa said this:
“We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature - trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence... We need silence to be able to touch souls.”
That is why music is truly known as the ‘universal language’ – It’s not just because melodies transcend languages and cultural barriers, (which is true.) But also through the art of silence in music, the soul speaks and that also is what connects people all around the world.
In the same way, through silence in our hearts, our soul connects with God’s heart. The silence of music and the silence of life are just as important to each other as they are separately.
So don’t be afraid of silence and let the silence speak!