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Offline Mayla

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« on: July 14, 2004, 07:18:50 AM »
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"The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving"  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Offline Saturn

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Re: Form & Theory vs emotion & interpretation
«Reply #1 on: July 14, 2004, 01:23:22 PM »
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In familiarizing with a piece of music, how important is it to be able to define and categorize every theoretical aspect, and it's significance to the musical interpretation.  It seems to me that theory is the key to understanding appropriate artist' responses, however, it seems difficult to truly be present with the music living in thought.


When learning or practicing a work, it's of the utmost importantance to be able understand the work as much as possible.  That's when you think about and familiarize yourself with the theoretical aspects.  It does no good to think purely about expression or purely about theory; the two must work together.

When you play/perform the work, the theoretical aspects fall into place in the overall musical interpretation.  You don't consciously think about the theory (as you do when practicing), but you understand it, and it operates within your playing on a subconscious level.

There's no contradiction between musical expression and music theory.

- Saturn

Offline bernhard

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Re: Form & Theory vs emotion & interpretation
«Reply #2 on: July 14, 2004, 03:53:57 PM »
I completely agree with Saturn, and to what he said I would also add the knowledge of history  and biography (as much as it possible to know these things).

When the piece was composed? What were the relevant personal/historical events on the composer’s life at that moment? What were the composer’s life philosophies and personal beliefs? And so on and so forth.

For some composers, like Schumann, such information is easier to come by than for others. (Schindler and George Sand, in my opinion deserve to burn in hell for their systematic destruction of letters and documents relating to Beethoven and Chopin respectively).

I also like to get acquainted with geography. Where was the composer living, and what were his circumstances when composing that particular piece. If possible at all I will visit the places. Can I enter the “composer’s skin”, so to speak?

At the same time it is not crucial that such experiment be completely accurate. I would liken it to the problems facing an actor trying to portray a character. The actor must somehow “become” the character. As long as the character is a fictional one, we tend not to mind so much the actor’s interpretation as long as it is convincing. However with historical characters the situation is slightly different. Yet we understand that at the end of the day every biopic is a fiction, and even though we know the actor is not actually the character, we can still appreciate his/her portrayal and accept it as a valid one amongst other alternatives (think Tom Hulce as Mozart, or Dennis Quaid as Jerry Lee Lewis). As long as the actor has really done his homework, the end result even though it might not be totally faithful to the truth (how could it be?) will be legitimate and highly satisfying.

Likewise with a piece of music. As long as the pianist has really done his/her homework the resulting interpretation will be compelling and deeply satisfying, even though it might not be the final word on the piece (and how could it possibly be?).

The really bad interpretations are those that concentrate only on playing the right notes at the right time. This would be the equivalent of an actor believing that his work consists of nothing else than memorising his lines and saying them as written on the script at the right time in the scene.

Best wishes,
Bernhard

The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline ahmedito

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Re: Form & Theory vs emotion & interpretation
«Reply #3 on: July 15, 2004, 02:57:30 AM »
Its always good to reflect abot the true nature of what you do as an interpreter. Sometimes, people get the wrong idea that interpretation is just reading the score as accurately as possible. That is a simplistic idea, which leads to simplistic interpretation lacking deepness (forgive my english).
Simply put, I believe that your job as an interpreter is not about reading the score, but thinking more along the lines of why did this guy write this piece? what did he want to say? what was it written for? how would he have played it? people around him? the score is NOT the music, its merely a representation of this music, although the most important tool a musician has to understanding the true nature of the composers intentions.
Now ask yourself... what do you feel with this particular piece, how does it relate to you? would the composer relate to your conception of the piece? if he wouldnt, then maybe youre doing something wrong.....

I dont know if this helps, theory and interpretation are not opposites, simply tools to achieve a common goal, to bring a piece of music to life for the listener.
For a good laugh, check out my posts in the audition room, and tell me exactly how terrible they are :)

Offline ted

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Re: Form & Theory vs emotion & interpretation
«Reply #4 on: July 15, 2004, 07:02:10 AM »
Do you really think about all those things, Bernhard ? At last I have found something to differ with you about.

Nothing matters to me these days except sound and its effect. All musical programmes are a waste of time because I prefer to make my own.  I don't mind knowing about a composer for the sake of human interest, but I consciously disregard all association of such detail with the music.

My reasons for taking this line are numerous but one good one is that I found associating music with other matters could stop me enjoying it through bias against the extra-musical images. For instance I don't much like religion and was put off Bach for years because I read he wrote all his music through his religious bent. Once I got rid of this (for me) negative association, and started replacing it with my own, the essentially abstract mass of his sound (sound is abstract, not representational as a painting, and therefore can be turned to any image I choose) began to come alive.

I think that is why I am very eclectic and play in many idioms. Once I freed myself in this way I now only dislike something because of its sound and nothing more. This makes everything so much simpler. I can say things such as, "I do not like regular metre", or "I like certain  chords" and know that I am making a valid statement. "I do not like Shostakovitch" or some similar assertion stands a good chance of being false and creating a superfluous bias, because the music of Shostakovitch may contain many elements I like.

Just making and listening to sound really - that's all I do these days and I find myself happier and more broadminded because of it.

As to theory and form, I know very little about either and have no desire to find out. I've created masses of music over the years and just sort of let things form themselves. The nearest analogy to the process is chaos - in the mathematical sense, not the descriptive.

"We're all bums when the wagon comes." - Waller

Offline Mayla

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Re: Form & Theory vs emotion & interpretation
«Reply #5 on: July 19, 2004, 07:54:21 AM »
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"The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving"  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Offline bernhard

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Re: Form & Theory vs emotion & interpretation
«Reply #6 on: July 23, 2004, 01:52:51 AM »
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Do you really think about all those things, Bernhard ? At last I have found something to differ with you about.


Yes, I do. Take as an example Schumann's op. 68 no. 28 ("Remembrance" form the Album for the young). Under the title (in my edition) there is a little date: 4 November 1847.

Many years ago, when I first looked at this piece I found it pleasant enough, and assumed that the date was the date of composition. However on further investigation the date turned out to be the date of Mendelssohn's death. More investigation and the very important role that Mendelssohn played in Schumann's life (as a friend, as a fellow musician, as a like mind, as a staunch supporter of his marriage to Clara and of his music and musical ambitions, as an influence) and suddenly that tiny miniature that up to then was just a pleasant tune, suddenly became imbued with meaning, and many gates opened. So yes, I believe that this sort of investigation can bear many fruits. But then it may also be just me. I happen to be curious about this sort of minutiae and detail.

But I also have the utmost sympathy with the views you expressed (as I have with all your views). And I do not think that what I said excludes what you said neither do I think that what you said excludes what I said. I think they complement each other quite well.

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Nothing matters to me these days except sound and its effect. All musical programmes are a waste of time because I prefer to make my own.  I don't mind knowing about a composer for the sake of human interest, but I consciously disregard all association of such detail with the music.


I think in your case, this is absolutely fine, because you have a life of music behind you, and your unconscious is full of musical information that allow you to do just that.    

But I would not advise a 16 year old that does not have a clue to follow the same path. I find that interesting background information may motivate a student to learn a piece that otherwise they would not give a second thought to.

Best wishes,
Bernhard.
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline ted

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Re: Form & Theory vs emotion & interpretation
«Reply #7 on: July 23, 2004, 06:40:32 AM »
Bernhard:

Yes, on reflection one tends to forget how one felt at sixteen. A certain amount of this sort of association is probably a good thing for a young person, or even to foster enthusiasm in an older beginner. My big names used to be Chopin, Liszt, Gershwin and Waller; I almost worshipped these four, and the detail of their lives and personalities all became somehow mixed up with their music and my playing. As you say, not necessarily a mistake at all, provided the pupil doesn't actually begin to drink like Waller or imitate Liszt's amorous propensities !

When I say I disregard theory and form I do not mean that I have not tried very hard to understand, of course. I took a course of study under one of this country's foremost musicians (many years after the death of my original master - cost me an arm and a leg) for this very reason. He is immensely accomplished, an incredible sight reader with a huge repertoire and an encyclopaedic knowledge of music and musicology.

He told me the harmonies I was using were "wrong", and I dutifully worried for a few months about this. At length I came to the conclusion that if I really preferred wrong chords to right ones there was little to be done or said regardless of where the fault, if any, resided. He liked listening to my improvisation and requested copies of my compositions so perhaps I wasn't quite so completely "wrong" in his eyes after all.

So when I say I reject theory and form, it sounds a little more cavalier than it actually is. I mean that I can, or could if I took the time, understand it on a purely intellectual level. There is just no way I have ever been able to make the association between it and my intuitive sound responses during the creative process. It has always seemed rather like using the English language to describe the taste of a strawberry to somebody.

"We're all bums when the wagon comes." - Waller

Offline Mayla

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Re: Form & Theory vs emotion & interpretation
«Reply #8 on: July 23, 2004, 09:53:09 AM »
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"The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving"  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Offline newsgroupeuan

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Re: Form & Theory vs emotion & interpretation
«Reply #9 on: July 23, 2004, 03:06:30 PM »
If one plays too emotionally and neglects the structure,  halff of the enjoyment is gone.  If one is to play blandly,  but fully expose the structure,  that is not good.

When one is one with the piece,  technique,  structure,  and interpretation are one.  Therefore there is no contradiction