Passion and Pulse
And Mans Pulse stopt, All passions sleep in Peace.—Robert Herrick
In music as in nature, rhythm is life and its absence is death.
I grew up dancing to rock and roll, and later my wife and I took ballroom dance lessons for a decade—studying dances ranging from foxtrot and tango to salsa and West-coast swing. I love dancing—I love to dance, and I love watching people dance.
I especially relish dance performances in which intensity, technique, and artistry seem completely intertwined. Likewise I love music that combines expressiveness and a sense of physical motion, especially dance-like motion.
Verdi’s music provides a great example. Choreographer George Balanchine described Verdi’s music as musique dansante (danceable music). Music that moves me deeply is often “danceable” in this sense, with audible pulse, meter, and kinetic energy.
My own compositions frequently evoke a sense of physical motion and often incorporate dance rhythms—ranging from Renaissance dances to contemporary Latin-American dances. For me, various dance rhythms evoke contrasting moods, changing energy levels, and fluctuating states of passion—the kind we have as desire-driven creatures existing in time-bound bodies.
Later, as Herrick suggests, there will be time enough for our passions to sleep.