47. Absence Number 6: Touch

I used the term "virtuous reality" in the title of a previous post as an obvious play on the more commonly used term "virtual reality." And now I bring up virtuous reality again here in connection with the quality of touch as opposed to virtual reality which however much it may be trending does not involve the experience of touch.

The subtitle of my new song Touching You Touching Me is The Virtue of Reality. As social distancing adds to our touch deprivation, we are made aware of just how important a component of reality touch really is, because it is a sense that requires being close and making contact.

For example, consider the physical element of touch in expressive piano playing and how that translates to the emotional element of touch in the listener's response.

In piano playing, most of the expressive elements come into being using the techniques of touch. This includes the volume or dynamics of the music which come about by how forcefully you press the keys using speed, strength or weight. Slow, light keystrokes produce soft sounds. And fast, heavy keystrokes produce loud sounds with everything in between being possible as can be heard in a crescendo or diminuendo. Articulation is another technique using touch which adds an expressive element. Individual notes can be made to sound short or percussive using staccato touch, smooth, connected and singing using legato touch, given emphasis using tenuto touch, and louder using accents. All of these touch techniques along with tempo and tempo changes contribute to musical expression which enables the listener to be touched by music in an infinite number of ways.

This brings us face to face with the transformative power of touch. Touch conveys endless shades of physical and emotional feeling as it allows us to share the divine spark in humanity which is so essential to being fully human.


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