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Topic: Are you a good performer?  (Read 3893 times)

Offline wufnu

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Are you a good performer?
on: June 26, 2005, 03:52:43 AM
I was just reading some threads here and there, mostly opinion filled threads about over rated this and very hard that. 

It seems to me that people value a performer that plays the music the way the composer wrote it.  Someone mentioned that some certain pianists put too much of themselves into their music.  Is this not a good thing?  I don't understand. 

I dunno, I've been a musician for nigh unto 10 years and I've never aspired to be a robot but a musician.  A musician that plays songs the way he wants to, nevermind what the original author meant for it to sound like.  For example, I remember trying to learn Pathetique in my "Music Appreciation" class in my freshman year of college by pure memorization.  Sure, I memorized it then threw all the timings and volumes out the window.  If I wanted to hit the keys like I wanted to break them, I did.  Speed it up, slow it down.  If I'm feeling especially rebellious I might add a note or two.

Of course, I've always been a very personal musician.  I do it for me, nobody else :)  Is this a bad thing, in the opinion of the very talented musicans here?

Offline pita bread

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Re: Are you a good performer?
Reply #1 on: June 26, 2005, 05:33:44 AM
If you only play for yourself, why not do what your heart pleases?

If you play for an audience however, know you will be judged (I'm stating the obvious here, but humans are creatures of strong opinions), and quite frankly, a blatant disregard for the composer's intentions will probably earn you harsh criticism.

I think there's plenty room for self-expression, for lack of a better term, in music, while still ahereing to the composer's desires. Take for example, Maurice Ravel, one of the most meticulous composers of all time. Despite being critical of performances down to the slightest rhythmic deviations (I'd like to start a count of the total number of "sans ralentir" in all his music), Ravel often did not specify how he wanted a melody shaped, or what tone color should be used. Often, he would mark measures with a simple "expressif." Now, what does this "expressif" mean? A dramatic gesture? Profound dynamic change? A tiny hint of rubato? In these tiny spaces a performer is free to interpret and express, without disregarding the score.

Offline Barbosa-piano

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Re: Are you a good performer?
Reply #2 on: June 26, 2005, 06:52:05 AM
 I am always very pessimist and always doubtful of what I do is successful. It seems that I can always do better than what I do right now. Non musicians usually tell me that my playing is wonderful. That is the risk that I go through, I am pleased to hear it, but I don't really trust it. As Rachmaninoff said, "The more I play, the more I hear my own inadequacies..." Well, I have to admit that I am equally proud sometimes. It surprises me sometimes what I can overcome on the keyboard... One thing that hurts me, probably, is my act of listening to too many recordings. This hurts the way I organize the music, because I always use some of the performers' ideas and suggestions. I am only 15, and getting a teacher is a priority, since piano has become the love of my life and my career is pointed to that. I believe being a personal musician is fun, but breaking the core, and making the contact with the audience, transcribing clearly the composers thoughts is essential on my way of thinking. You want the audience to have fun with you and understand your message.

 ;) Sincerely,
Mario Barbosa
Feel free to follow my music blog! themusicalcause.blogspot.com[/url]

Offline Dazzer

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Re: Are you a good performer?
Reply #3 on: June 26, 2005, 09:03:44 AM
i hear you. feel exactly the same way...

Offline Eusebius_dk

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Re: Are you a good performer?
Reply #4 on: June 26, 2005, 12:07:13 PM
I remember reading Josef Hofman's book on piano playing, where he also mentioned the personal performance, and said (which I think is absolutely true) that we don't actually need to search for some "personal expression", neither by adding notes (I don't think many people would do that), change dynamics, add a lot of rubatos etc.

He examplified this by imagining 10 different pianists having to learn the excactly same piece over a given period of time, and the only instruction they got was that they should be true to the written score, and play everything as it is written. Possibly, we would end up with having 10 different performances of this piece, eventhough everyone tried to be true to the text.

Personality comes from the inside, and it manifests itself in everything we do, even when we think we are being objective. There's no need to add any musical gimmicks into our playing in the name of "personal expression", it just makes things superficial.

Offline wufnu

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Re: Are you a good performer?
Reply #5 on: June 26, 2005, 09:14:50 PM
"Personality comes from the inside, and it manifests itself in everything we do, even when we think we are being objective. There's no need to add any musical gimmicks into our playing in the name of "personal expression", it just makes things superficial"

That is what I mean.  I don't mean gimmicks, I mean having an opinion and sticking to it.  Play it the way you want to play it, not work at making it your own work.  I would hate to think of someone going "Hrrm, I would love to play this song but I have to change some things around to make it more my style otherwise it will just be like everyone elses."  What I would much rather think of is someone that has played the piece a million times from memory, they know it inside and out and love it and enjoy the playing of it, and after awhile they find that it has changed without having put thougth into changing it and is in some ways completely different than the original work *and they're ok with that*.   Perhaps they find that a certain section is related in their mind to some major important event in their life and is somehow manifesting itself into the way that section is played, without them having done it on purpose. 

It seems some think that is a bad thing.  =/  It is my fortune that I don't do this for a living because I could only answer the criticism I would receive with "....so? ... and? Big deal."  Not a good way to make a living, I suppose.  ;)

I was just curious what the people here thought.  It seems that they're professional musicians and could play circles around myself.  That is to say, I wanted to know what "real" musicians thought of it.  I've never really treated it as more than a hobby and something I very much enjoy doing.  I'll keep my own opinions the same on how I like to play, but it's nice to hear other perspectives.
 

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