“Riding the Crest”

John Diamond, M.D.

Extract from the book 
The Pulse of Music

Pulse of Music book cover


Imagine that you are on a surfboard riding a wave. If you are right up on the wave, you will be easily carried forward. You have nothing to do but keep your balance. All the power is in the wave. You do not have to exert any of your own. However, if you are not quite on the wave, if you are a little bit on the backside of it, you have to keep paddling furiously to stay with it. As soon as you stop you will slide back off the wave into the trough and lose it.

The musical pulse is like the wave. When you are on it the playing becomes effortless; there is no stress. It is easy. All you have to do is keep your balance. As long as you stay with the Pulse you will go all the way to the end, inevitably swept along by the enormous power of the Pulse of life, which is expressed through the pulse of the music. On the other hand, if you are not on the Pulse there is no ease. All is labor and stress.

Therefore, you jam your breath as you struggle to stay with the momentum of the music. However, it is difficult and at some point, you always run out of breath. At some point, you lose the wave altogether. When a musician suddenly joins the Pulse, everything changes; he becomes free. He is being swept along by the glorious power of music.