Juncture in Music

Juncture simply means the connection between two notes, rests, phrases, section or even movements. It is the relationship between two such elements. Unfortunately, however, in music, it could be rather overlooked.

In the example of a musician performing a sonata (a musical composition of 3 or 4 movements of contrasting forms), the question might arise of how would that performer transition from one movement to the next. To do so inconsistently would seem sloppy. This is why juncture is an important factor in music.

Lack of proper juncture would result in jerky motions, which would create an unmusical result. Any choppy, uncontrolled movement is considered taboo in music. These could be likened to sharp-edged triangular shapes, to visualize. If you imagine a circular motion, it would connote a smoother movement, which is more desirable, and more graceful, hence more musical.

There is a clue to achieving good juncture in music. If a musician calculates his rests or is getting ready for the other movement (section) to play, his body motion and gestures before sounding or touching the instrument will influence quality of tone.

Thus, there are practices for improving juncture in music.

The most popular one is to practice the motion of picking up a mug of coffee to drink it and putting it down. Grab a mug (whether it is full or empty is not important). Slowly raise it towards your lips as if you were drinking from it and then lower it down. You will notice that your movements are not as smooth as they could be. They are somewhat choppy. Now, this time, raise the mug again but with a much more even and consistent motion. From start to finish, the cycle should be one fluid motion. Practice this over and over again until you master it. Then go back to your instrument, play and notice the difference.

Here is the other exercise. Listen to a piece of music. Grab a small object, such as a ball. Then transfer it by slowly swinging your arm across to your other hand, keeping this consistent with the rhythm of the music. Then reverse the motion with that hand back to the other one. Continue doing this back and forth until you do it smoothly and consistently.

These exercises will help your sense of juncture and connectedness to all of the various components of the musical piece.

This is all part of a philosophy known as “movement education” or “body in performance”, developed by Dr. Alexandra Pierce, Professor Emeritus, University of Redlands, whom I studied under. Movement Education embodies the several aspects of music (such as phrasing) in a physical, kinetic form away from the instrument. The results are a much more meaningful performance, as music becomes much more sensational, using one’s entire existence and not just one sense, hearing.