By the time this article is published our country will have engaged in the democratic process of electing public officials to lead them. As is usually the case, it has been a bitterly fought campaign, often with bitter words spouted by both candidates and campaigners. People draw hard lines between themselves and those who oppose their view. As a result, feelings are hurt and resentments are held onto until the next election where vengeance is the name of the game.
Against that ugly backdrop let me paint for you the democratic process of music. In music there is competition between half-notes and quarter-notes but they all recognize each other’s value. Sixteenth-notes feel neglected, but when called upon make the perfect addition.
Chords with a dissonant sound that jars the ear, beg for resolution into a pleasing sound. That’s when that one note that is creating the tension gently relinquishes its position to the note above or below. It’s what helps everyone smile and breathe a sigh of relief.
The fast tempo sounds energizing because of it allowing a few measures of a slower tempo. It is the contrast, the difference, that makes each more enjoyable.
The same is true of volume. A piece of beautiful music is never loud or soft from beginning to end. It is the blending together of the contrasting volumes that builds excitement for the listeners.
Which takes me to the ultimate in democratic exercises – the choral group, specifically the David Johnson Chorus.
It would be hard to imagine a more diverse group of people than those that make up our merry band of singers. Devoted Democrats, passionate Republicans, fierce Independents and even some who do not engage in the election process, all are represented in DJC. Members identify themselves with as many as eight different religious preferences. We have people from every strata of socio-economic class. Some members have very high profile jobs while others labor in anonymity, and some who are in retirement. We have members who can read music and members who wouldn’t recognize the difference between a C-sharp and a B-flat.
The differences go on and on! But all those differences evaporate as soon as we step on the risers. It becomes a brotherhood, a family working together to encourage and support each other. Everyone depends on each other, counts on each other, to pick them up if they falter, to have them cover up any mistakes they might make.
There is no envy or jealousy between members. If someone gives an outstanding performance, there are only feelings of joy for them. There is no competition between members, except of the good natured kind.
It is the love of music, immersing ourselves into its own democratic process that drives and inspires us. Our audiences inspire us to give them the very best we can give, not because of the acclaim we might receive, but simply because of the satisfaction in knowing we have done something to help our fellow man.
Wouldn’t it be nice if our world worked the same way?