The energy in dead inanimate objects

May 21st, 2011

Try this simple exercise.

Take your guitar and using your i finger, pull the third string gently. Don’t pluck it, just pull it gently, as if you’re going to pluck it.

You’ll feel a slight resistance in the string, it seems to be pushing back.

But a string is a dead inanimate object. Where does this energy come from?

From you, of course, you’re creating that pushback in the string from your pulling.

The point is, there’s latent energy in everything. We’re surrounded by hidden energy, even in objects that supposedly possess no energy of their own.

You can say this energy is dependent on external forces. In this case, the string is dead until you pull it, so that energy is derived from you.

Precisely, but that energy, even if its original impetus is from you, is very real.

The true art of virtuosity is in knowing how to recapture this latent force and use it to drive you forward in your task.

That’s the basis of my last post, on creating the automated engine in your fingers, in this case, recapturing the spent energy in one stroke to propel you to the next.

This contrasts with the conventional approach of just focusing on finger strength or body strength to accomplish what you want to do.

For instance, if you want speed, just try to make the fingers move faster, or if you want power, just apply more force.

For me that approach is a dead end because our energy is very limited. If we have to rely on our pure energy (you might call this brute force) to accomplish what we want to do, we’d be severely hamstrung.

To recapitulate, the real skill of a virtuoso is in knowing how to harness the energy around us to do our work for us.

This means we have to be extremely sensitive and responsive. For instance, when we pluck, we must be extremely sensitive to the string and to its built-in reactions to our actions.

And we have to respond to it, and not just treat it like some dead inanimate object that has absolutely no contribution to make to our plucking.

To me, this is the true source of effortless power and speed, when you can harness the power and energy in nature to do your work for you.

Of course, you have to put in the original effort and you have to know how to recapture that energy, but once you have that automated engine going, you’re on a roll. It’s easy street from then on.

4 Responses to “The energy in dead inanimate objects”

  1. Cynthia Says:

    I truly thank you Mr. Hii.
    I am rendered speechless.

  2. Philip Hii Says:

    Thank you too for dropping by and for the comment. ATB.

  3. Inge Courtney-Haentjes Says:

    Very useful teaching for many areas in music, as well as for life in general.

  4. Philip Hii Says:

    Thanks, Inge. Yes, music is a microcosm of life and many principles are applicable to life.

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