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Does Rachmaninoff Touch Your Heart?
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Topic: Visual effects in performance???  (Read 1701 times)

Offline dolcejen

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Visual effects in performance???
on: September 19, 2005, 09:57:23 PM
Rachmaninoff was still a pianist of the old school, even though he lived in the recording era. He considered music a visual as well aural experience, because the only you could hear music was at a live performance. Many great composers write passages for visual effects. Those interlocking hands in that prelude just LOOK really cool. Take also, for example, instances of hand crossing in Liszt which are somewhat unnecessary. If you look at Rachmaninoff's prelude op. 23 #4, you'll maybe see what I mean. It begins with a sort of accompanying figuration in the left hand, and after two bars the right hand (melody) enters. It's an awkward, leaping accompaniment, so naturally many people cheat and use both hands. However, IMO this detracts from the visual effect of the right hand entrance. When preparing music for a performance, we might do well to think how we look beyond wearing fancy clothes.

This was made in reference to Rachmaninov's Prelude in c sharp minor and it's opening interlocking cords, and the question of whether to refinger or not. I thought a very interesting point came out here, that performance is so much more than just playing the right notes, with the proper technique and expression. I had never thought much about the visual impact a piece can have. This discussion may have already come up here, but  how do you see the visual side of performance, is it important, does it have an impact on the understanding and absorption of a piece for the audience? It would be interesting to hear opinions from performers and non-performers alike.

So in short, what kind of impact, if any in your opinion, does visual effect have on performance? Visual effect can include more than just fingering, such as arm position, body position, even clothing perhaps?, facial expression, etc. etc. 

And has there been a dramatic altertion in the way pieces are played today because of the mass media production of music and the lessening performance to audiences?

Offline ted

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Re: Visual effects in performance???
Reply #1 on: September 19, 2005, 10:25:28 PM
As I never perform and never attend concerts visual effects have no significance at all.
"Mistakes are the portals of discovery." - James Joyce

Offline stevie

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Re: Visual effects in performance???
Reply #2 on: September 20, 2005, 12:30:19 AM
As I never perform and never attend concerts visual effects have no significance at all.

ted, if i remember correctly you used visual effects in one performance, when you accidentally showed off your prize pickle.

Offline pianodaria

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Re: Visual effects in performance???
Reply #3 on: September 20, 2005, 12:33:55 AM
As I never perform and never attend concerts visual effects have no significance at all.


hm... what DO you do?
"What does an artist need for success? - Encouragement on top of encouragement..."
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Offline ted

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Re: Visual effects in performance???
Reply #4 on: September 20, 2005, 12:45:10 AM
You're right there, Stevie, that was an unintentional performance and no mistake.

What do I do ? At the piano you mean ? About 90% improvisation and 10% playing pieces I suppose. Composition if I can be bothered, which isn't very often.
"Mistakes are the portals of discovery." - James Joyce

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Visual effects in performance???
Reply #5 on: September 20, 2005, 01:14:33 AM
Visual effects is extremely important. In all my concerts I always have two huge arrangements of flowers on stage with heaps of colors. It gives oragnic life to the stage, makes it less sterile, gives people something to look at while they listen to the music.

Another thing which happened by accident in one of my concerts The lightning technician asked me if I would mind if he changed colors of the light as I played. I agreed and the result was amazing. The guy knew classical piano very well and changed colors to highlight the feeling of the music. When I looked back at the video of the concert I was so impressed with the color changes, When things got exciting the colors where light yellow, orange, when it became slower, sader, darker colors on stage, it was really amazing, it gave the music more life.

I have also played for the deaf with an electric piano connected to a computer which showed the notes I played and also went through colors. There is actually some music made with color for the deaf, I really forgot what it was, but I am sure someone here would know about it.
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Offline allthumbs

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Re: Visual effects in performance???
Reply #6 on: September 20, 2005, 06:50:48 AM

This was made in reference to Rachmaninov's Prelude in c sharp minor and it's opening interlocking cords, and the question of whether to refinger or not.


Since I play this piece, I will go out on a limb and say that the reason that Rachmaninoff wrote the piece with these "interlocking chords' had nothing to do with any visual effect, but had more to do with making the piece more interesting for the performer to play.

Just a thought. :)

Cheers

allthumbs

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Offline dolcejen

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Re: Visual effects in performance???
Reply #7 on: September 20, 2005, 10:52:02 PM
Another thing which happened by accident in one of my concerts The lightning technician asked me if I would mind if he changed colors of the light as I played. I agreed and the result was amazing. The guy knew classical piano very well and changed colors to highlight the feeling of the music. When I looked back at the video of the concert I was so impressed with the color changes, When things got exciting the colors where light yellow, orange, when it became slower, sader, darker colors on stage, it was really amazing, it gave the music more life.

I have also played for the deaf with an electric piano connected to a computer which showed the notes I played and also went through colors. There is actually some music made with color for the deaf, I really forgot what it was, but I am sure someone here would know about it.

Yes, if well done, color changing can be stunning! Recently I went to a John Williams concert at the Hollywood Bowl (a very large concert "place"-it's not a hall- in Southern California) and was very impressed by the effects they produced with lighting. It really added to the music I thought. That is so interesting about the "deaf music". I would be fascintated to learn more about that.

Quote
Since I play this piece, I will go out on a limb and say that the reason that Rachmaninoff wrote the piece with these "interlocking chords' had nothing to do with any visual effect, but had more to do with making the piece more interesting for the performer to play.

Perhaps. Relieve boredom? But could the visual be part of it too?

When I say visual effects I mean more the actual process of playing the instrument, appearance of hand position, etc. and how the way you play a piece could perhaps add to the interest and understanding of the audience.

Offline mrchops10

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Re: Visual effects in performance???
Reply #8 on: September 21, 2005, 10:26:01 PM
Sometime, watch the movie Animal Crackers and see Chico Marx play the piano...it's awesome, a perfect example of how we can be more physically expressive at the keyboard. Also, I think whenever a composer distributes the hands oddly (like in that Rachmaninoff prelude), we should pay attention to what visual effect it might have. If changing the hand distribution distorts this, we should consider it carefully.
"In the crystal of his harmony he gathered the tears of the Polish people strewn over the fields, and placed them as the diamond of beauty in the diadem of humanity." --The poet Norwid, on Chopin

Offline allthumbs

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Re: Visual effects in performance???
Reply #9 on: September 28, 2005, 04:12:56 PM

Perhaps. Relieve boredom? But could the visual be part of it too?

When I say visual effects I mean more the actual process of playing the instrument, appearance of hand position, etc. and how the way you play a piece could perhaps add to the interest and understanding of the audience.


Ok, I'll buy into that notion.
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