“Music is the space between the notes” – Claude Debussy

Some of the best musicians, I’m told, play fewer notes than you actually hear. They play in such a way–and leave enough space–that your mind fills in more. (Granted, it was a DeadHead that told me).Artists know that negative space carries weight. It is not simply an absence of content. The “white space”, as it’s sometimes referred to by graphic designers, IS content. And it’s not just the forgotten stepchild of a composition… it is a first-class citizen. A thing that deserves as much (if not more) focus as the apparent subject of the work.

Comedians say that “timing is everything.” But by “timing”, they almost always mean “the pause.” The PAUSE is not merely a void between the Things That Matter.

ewbie writers (like me) are taught that it’s the words you cut out that matter most. We’re told to edit until nothing else can be removed. That’s great advice, and when I have time to edit (rare for a spare-time blog post, but required with a book), I start hacking off all those extra words. (Like, “off all those”). But removing words isn’t enough. We must insert space. Space for the reader to become engaged.

Space for the reader to reflect, process, and co-create the meaning.

With thanks to Creating Passionate Users for this inspiration.

13 comments so far

  1. William Calkins on

    This quote came to mind while at a concert yesterday evening and Google led me to this page.

  2. becky on

    I just read this quote in a book (“Zen Computer”) today. It didn’t say where it came from, so I Googled it and found it here too. It just happens that Claire de Lune is one of my most favorite pieces of music.

  3. becky on

    “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” — Antoine de Saint-Exupery

  4. Balkishan on

    I have listened this quote in one training session conducted my company. This really give a scope to sensitivity to our inner world. If we give a thought on this, we will give some meaning to our lives.

    I really liked that.

  5. Ron on

    Tai Chi

  6. Acsacalos on

     êîìïàíèè ïðèäóìàëè íà íîâîãîäíèé ïðàçäíèê íàðÿäèòüñÿ â êîñòþìû ïðîäóêòîâ. À ÿ íå ìîãó îïðåäåëèòüñÿ ñ êîñòþìîì. Ïðîøó ñîâåòà. Ìîæåò êòî ïîäñêàæåò â êàêîé “ïðîäóêò ìîæíî îáëà÷èòüñÿ” è ãëàâíîå õî÷åòñÿ óñëûøàòü ïðåäëîæåíèÿ î òîì, êàê èìåííî ñìàñòåðèòü ýòîò êîñòþì.
    Ïîìîãèòå, ïëèç.

  7. cleattininmer on

    Bite my shiny metal ass, assholes, you were joked!

  8. […] “Music is the space between the notes.” Claude Debussy […]

  9. Joanne Eddy on

    I went looking for the quote in variation “If you want to play Music, you must pay attention not just to the notes, but play the spaces between them.” I had read somewhere that Miles Davis said that. Anyway my search led me here. I am also a new writer and I really valued this quote about writing and am sorry it appears you are no longer posting. I have copied with a few minor edits (eg the Deadheads) and reposted on my blog…giving you credit. I hope your writing is continuing as this post made me think and feel – my definition of being well written. Joanne

  10. […] in mind, but does that preclude the consumer from finding significance elsewhere in the work? The space between the notes can be a powerful place, but it’s still empty. (Empty of notes, […]

  11. Deborah on

    Where have you been all my life??

  12. Deborah on

    And what is your NAME? I can’t find an author credit anywhere in this iPhone I page…

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