The Oppositional Principle in Music, Part 6: Samer Totah and Kenneth Snelson, Masters of Balance

Recently I’ve been writing about what I call the Oppositional Principle for musicians—the idea that you may be able to play, sing, or conduct better if you keep your body relatively still, moving little beyond the needed gestures of your technique. The still body can condense and distribute energy more powerfully than the moving body.

It all depends on how you do it, of course!

Your stillness ought to be the result of many tensions brought to balance, like a Kenneth Snelson sculpture in which multiple forces in multiple dimensions all contribute to the overall stability of the structure. If you organize your forces in this way, then music will “charge you up.” The fluid energies of music will oppose your stable forces, and music itself will come through condensed and powerful.

After you visit Snelson’s beautiful website, come back here and watch Samer Totah, a great oud player who focuses his movements where they can carry the greatest power.