In the previous post, we explored a concept identified by casting director Michael Shurtleff in his classic book on acting, Audition, the principle of opposites:
Whatever you decide is your motivation in the scene, the opposite of that is also true and should be in it . . .
Think about a human being: in all of us there exists love and there exists hate, there exists creativity and there exists an equal tendency toward self-destructiveness, there exists sleeping and waking, there exists night and there exists day, sunny moods and foul moods, a desire to love and a desire to kill. Since these extremities do exist in all of us, then they must also exist in each character in each scene. Not all opposites, of course, not this exhaustive listing I’ve just given, but some of them. If it is a love scene, there is bound to be hate in it too; if there is need, great need, for someone, we are bound to resent that need. Both emotions should be in the scene; it is lopsided and untrue if only one is.
Michael Shurtleff, Audition, pp. 77-78
Among the countless musical examples of this principle in action is the classic funk album Mothership Connection by Parliament.
One of this album's most distinguishing features is the tension between the party atmosphere evoked in the verses and refrains of the album's title track . . .
If you hear any noise
It’s just me and the boys . . .
and the contrast with the spiritual resonance of the B-sections
Swing down sweet chariot
Stop and let me ride
The song’s expansive richness is the result of many things, including the combining of these opposites—profane and sacred. Indeed, the song and performance seem to insist that its version of the profane is in fact sacred. This underscores the song’s sense of being a revolutionary manifesto, the declaration of a world turned upside down.
Thank you for reading.