Imagine that the entire amount of time of a piece is represented by a pie chart. A player would do well to imagine her time spent during the piece as follows:
• Don’t play. A quarter slice of the pie is silence: don’t play – just listen to the choices of others and to the direction the piece is going. Also when everyone plays all the time, the result can be too thick (hard to hear through it) and will certainly be monotonous. Timbre comes alive when players leave space for other sounds to come through. Note: the silence doesn’t all have to come at once – it can be apportioned throughout the whole piece.
• Steal. Half the pie is imitating/stealing ideas, both from other players and from yourself (re-use those ideas). Listen for strong ideas and play them back, perhaps as a sequence, or using motivic devices such as augmentation or diminution. Or take other’s players’ ideas and turn them into accompaniment patterns.
• Solo. One quarter slice of the pie is for discovering one’s own solo ideas, polishing and refining them, developing them, making them as strong as possible.