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A matter of harmony

Dec 29,2017
A respected choir deserves respect. And there is reason. Members cherish the value of “listening to other voices while singing” over “singing well on their own.” A mere collection of good singers does not lead to a beautiful chorus. Even if each singer has an impeccably lovely voice, it is a separate issue for all members to create a beautiful harmony.

When performing a solo, a singer can show off his or her ability to sing. But when it comes to a chorus, that’s a totally different story. A heterogeneous mix of voices only leads to a cacophony. Therefore, most choral conductors underscore the importance of singing in congruity with other members when they sing a chorus.

Singing George Frideric Handel’s “Messiah” — probably a No. 1 repertoire during the Holiday season — is no exception. The baroque song demands choir members sing it in one voice after its four distinct parts move along separately. But it is really difficult to catch the timing. What to do then? Members must listen to others’ voices in order not to bother their singing. They must open their ears wide in order not to miss the beat. Only when someone’s ears are open wide can a good harmony be achieved.

The problem is that one does not know if her or his voice is really incompatible with other singers. The more distinct a sound one makes, the more obstinate one tends to become. Sometimes, they find fault with others, arguing that they perfectly followed the rhythm and lyrics of a song but others didn’t. Then, the choir can never find a clue to their cacophony.

What about our politicians? The ruling Democratic Party always accuses opposition parties who “break harmony for the country,” and vice versa. Even when voters sent them to the National Assembly to build a better nation, they still seem to live in a totally different world after attributing all problems to their counterparts. From them, what we call co-prosperity or coexistence cannot be expected. A famous French philosopher warned that the more you are convinced of your own justice and the more satisfied you are, the less justified you are.

The upcoming year is the year of the dog. Dogs can bark, but they also have an excellent ability to listen. That ability to listen is just as important, if not more so.

In our political circles, corporate sectors and even at year-end parties, one who prefers to act like a maverick is easily ostracized by peers. Do you really want to get recognition for your excellent abilities? If so, you must first listen to others.

JoongAng Ilbo, Dec. 28, Page 34

*The author is a deputy editor of the JoongAng Sunday.