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Topic: Playing classical music without understanding  (Read 1275 times)

Offline stargazerdrk

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Playing classical music without understanding
on: August 02, 2016, 09:18:44 AM
Hello!  :)

I've been playing piano for 7 years now, without regular practice, and I took classes with a piano teacher only the first 3 years (the first year I studied modern music, and the following 2 years I learnt the basics of classical music and harmony). Since then, I have been playing piano very irregularly, and reading a few things about music theory. I love classical pieces, and I think I can play a few of them acceptable enough, but I wonder if in order to play a piece properly, you should know what is going on behind the sheet music (chords, modulations, ...), or you can limit yourself to memorising the parts you don't understand.

Thank you!

Offline visitor

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Re: Playing classical music without understanding
Reply #1 on: August 02, 2016, 10:27:27 AM
It is always important. It is more important as the depth and complexity if the work increase, less so for a frilly superficial one.
if you are telling a story, can you convey meaning and emotion better if you speak the language the story is in? If its a foreign language, can you just memorize the words through foreign language diction and mimick or repeat it? Will your personal connection and how you are impacted  get lost in transaltion?
At some point you can mimmick it to a certain extent but if you cannot comprehend the languge its kind of hard to convince others. So audience matters. If you just memorize it you will probably  get by w average listener.  But to an experienced mature musician, they might see right through the fake.

Offline dogperson

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Re: Playing classical music without understanding
Reply #2 on: August 02, 2016, 11:11:24 AM
I do not play even CLOSE to visitor's level, but for every new piece, I  try to analyze the music:
- the modulations?  if a section repeats but with differences, what are the differences and how should they be interpreted?  I do not write in every chord on the score.

In addition, I find it helpful to read about the composer and the period of life the piece was written... has there been any references to how he saw the music?  As an example, I have just reasonably polished Debussy's Arabesque, and found references to how Debussy viewed the two hands as a convergence of nature, how he views rubato.  It really helped in in the way I interpreted and (I hope), played it.  I've done the same with his Sunken Cathedral.

Let your fingers do the walking on the internet and you will find a wealth of material that can supplement your weaknesses in analysis and theory.

Don't know if this will help you or not.. but a thought. 

Offline visitor

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Re: Playing classical music without understanding
Reply #3 on: August 02, 2016, 12:27:46 PM
I do not play even CLOSE to visitor's level, but for every new piece, I  try to analyze the music:
- the modulations?  if a section repeats but with differences, what are the differences and how should they be interpreted?  I do not write in every chord on the score.

In addition, I find it helpful to read about the composer and the period of life the piece was written... has there been any references to how he saw the music?  As an example, I have just reasonably polished Debussy's Arabesque, and found references to how Debussy viewed the two hands as a convergence of nature, how he views rubato.  It really helped in in the way I interpreted and (I hope), played it.  I've done the same with his Sunken Cathedral.

Let your fingers do the walking on the internet and you will find a wealth of material that can supplement your weaknesses in analysis and theory.

Don't know if this will help you or not.. but a thought.  
lol, public service disclosure on 'visitor's level', I don't even think my lowly playing even registers on the scale yet, or better said I want my level to stay under the radar ha ha.

no seriously, i think many of you will find (like i am finding ) that the more you play, the better you try to be, the deeper you go, the more it comes back to basics, technique, tone, timing.  


If you look at the best, they are expert noobs, they have flawless execution of the fundamentals, so I strive to be the most advanced beginner I can be, am i relaxed, where can i dump some residual tension so i can really open up and play, did i count that properly, wrong note really?, these are the things i try to focus on, i think we can consider ourselves forever students which is why i still post and come here to share and learn  :).

OP, you would or could gain a lot from a formal review of theory, do you have access to audit a college freshman level course  at a local school or something or an intro to theory /remedial program? it's a bit of  grind but will help you grasp a lot of things more effectively  :D



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