Abby Rabinovitz's Flute Story
Fusing Her Jewish Roots with the Sounds of the World
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• Part 6: To Keep Dancing
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Paula: You have a really good ability to play different kinds of music from around the World. How do you incorporate music of the World into your compositions and keep everything sounding distinct, without all melding together into one unidentifiable mess?

Abby: Thanks! I've heard things like that. They can be painful. I think one cause of the "unidentifiable mess" syndrome is that the musician has borrowed external features from a tradition without understanding their meaning.

It's possible to write compositions with multiple influences that really work. Sometimes these influences are expressed very clearly. Other times they may be quite subtle, elusive even. But no matter how subtle, there is a purity to the idea, something of its essence that the composer or improvisor captures. I have written compositions where the influences are subtle and several things may be going on simultaneously as well as other pieces where the influences are clear. I believe each of these pieces works in part because of the seriousness with which I've studied the traditions that I draw from. This kind of study demands time, patience, discipline and dedication.

When you study a tradition seriously---opening your mind and heart to it--- you come to know not only the superficial "rules" but something of its soul. Your playing changes because the tradition is no longer "outside" but becomes truly a part of you. You can play with an integrity that reflects both the culture and also who you are. Too many people try to take short cuts. Because they don't really understand the traditions they are drawing from they put things together in ways that don't make sense. They want to know the cool scales etc. etc. and they want to know them this afternoon. That's not what a tradition is about.

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