The mathematic construct of music offers a mathematic perfection, seemingly able to precisely recreate a performance, right down to the inhale and true to the exact expression. Be not so foolish as to believe this.
Disregard recorded music for the moment, reserve it for an advanced discussion.
Live performance cannot be duplicated. Play it once, now play it again. Not only did the first iteration inform the reprise, but now is a different moment – each playing exists in a unique moment.
Consider, then, the judgement of a “bad” performance. Some critics can dis a rendition based on one flat note. Occasionally, a performance will completely fall apart, with one or more players losing their way, playing the wrong changes and the tune falls apart. Allow me, please to defend the worst and redeem the rest.
We are playing the song, in this moment, at this time, for this audience – sometimes only the players are present. We are using our minds to navigate, but we are playing with our fingers and feet, our lungs and throats, our mouths and shakin’ booties. This is the performance of this moment, coming from the understanding and emotion we hold for this song, this band and our own souls. It can be no less than perfect, just the way it is.
It is quite possible we could play it “better” – more mathematically accurate, more natural, more dynamic, whatever. It is equally possible that this performance is the apex, we may never play it better. But you know what?
It’s perfect, just like that. Every tune, every time, right on moment, oh yes.