Accompaniment is an integral part of a musical lexicon. There is a reciprocity of instrument and player, each testing the limits of the other. Without a written contract, both parties invest their time and resources to the other.
This relationship is a helpful one in days of protest. Multiple players need to know they can accompany each of the others in their tasks. By doing so, each amplifies the work of the others. Gifts and agency are added to the whole without a claim to be anything other than resources for a longer journey enhanced by the presence and engagement of everyone else.
Accompaniment goes beyond being an ally (still a role of privilege). It is ready to play multiple roles according to the need of the time. Accompanists know when to be still for another’s solo. To accompany also asks an ability to give a cue about what is coming next. There are also moments to carry a melody line and improvise when others cannot carry on.
Staying alert to the season of the collective work asks constant and consistent care for the whole. When the background is honored, the foreground is freed to sparkle here and dive to the deep there.
New occasions do offer new duties. To be ready for a next need takes a practice of perceiving how yesterdays have brought us to today, of anticipating how improvisation can lead to better living tomorrow.
Accompanying is not just a musical term, but a way of social change—a symphony of accompanists is a joy to behold.