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What you hear vs. What the audience hear (Read 1403 times)

Offline soultrap

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What you hear vs. What the audience hear
« on: August 06, 2018, 07:45:39 PM »
A friend recently asked me about something.
It went something like this: "Brooooooooooooo. I heard the recording of me playing piano. It sounded, like, so, like, so much better, like, than I thought! WhHhHhyYyYyyYYy???"

My first response was "the number of "like" in that is more than the brain cells in your thick skull"
But.
Anyway.
I wanted to explore this topic. If you have anything to add or any constructive criticism, help yourself to the reply button.

When someone is performing on stage, it should be obvious that both the audience and he can hear the sound coming from the instrument. But the difference between both is huge.
For example:
Many times I've thought that I could have performed better blindfolded and in my sleep, yet people say it was great. Yet, when I go back and listen to the recording of that performance, say, a month later, I go "Wow! That didn't sound half-bad! I swear it felt terrible though!"

And, in contrast, some times I've confident that I played my best, and it was impeccable. Then, someone (teacher, adjudicator, examiner, professor etc. that I was playing for) comes and bombards me with criticism. I would listen back on the recording on THAT instance, and think: "Jeez. Was I out of my mind? That's terrible!"


I think the reason why this is possible is due to many things.

First of all, the structure of the piano is not completely "fair". If the stand is present or is being used, it affects the sound you hear. Not by much, but it's something that can be felt. The lid, if present and fully opened, traditionally faces the audience. The natural sound undergoes interactions, when it is then finally at the ears of the listener. The source of the sound is much closer to you than the audience, and sound sounds different. This is similar to how your voice sounds entirely different than you expected, if you listen to it from a video.

The sound that the audience hears also depends on where they sit. How this works should be obvious.

Second, you have your own set interpretation. You might exaggerate or manipulate timing, but the interpretation stays. The audience has no idea what your interpretation is. Some things that you fail to bring out in your performance may sound like a sudden slap in the face to you, but to others it's completely normal and beautiful. In the end, you feel bad because you didn't bring out the full potential of your interpretation, but the audience doesn't know!

Also, how you feel at the moment is also a factor. Maybe you feel slightly cold. Maybe your hands are a bit sweaty. Maybe your clothing is restricting. Maybe you ALMOST slipped a note.  Heck, maybe you just had a fever and your nose is blocked. All of this things occur and are only noticed by you, and your feeling of the performance is influenced by this. After a while, when you slowly start to forget how you felt during the performance, you begin to actually appreciate the music you create from an audience perspective. Nobody, ever, was 100% pleased with their performance. At least, certainly not anyone who sincerely wants to improve.

The performance occasion itself is important too. If you're playing for friends, everything you play will sound good - Because you, subconsciously  KNOW they won't notice if somethings goes wrong. However, if you are performing in a prestigious piano competition, physiologically, everything you play you begin to doubt.

Uh... what's the point of this post?

Believe in your practice, I guess.

It's never as bad as you believe.
Pieces I'm working on:
Beethoven op. 109
Chopin Etudes op.10
Tchaikovsky Seasons June & October
Tchaikovsky Russian scherzo op. 1 no. 1
Tchaikovsky concerto 1
Mozart K 488
Rachmaninoff sonata 2

Offline dogperson

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Re: What you hear vs. What the audience hear
«Reply #1 on: August 07, 2018, 12:00:51 AM »
Thanks so much for sharing!í Yes, we are excruciatingly attuned to how we want to play and magnify every little pimple into a huge sore. As an adult student, I sadly do not have many performance opportunities... so every single one seems so hugely important....when itís really not.

I loved your thought Ďitís never as bad as you thinkí   ....Iíll need to remember that 😊

Offline ted

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Re: What you hear vs. What the audience hear
«Reply #2 on: August 07, 2018, 12:32:11 AM »
Although I do have a small repertoire of pieces, I can comment mainly about improvisation, and there the listening mind is certainly a very peculiar thing; even the musical merit of the same recordings and sections of recordings can markedly differ from day to day. Hundreds of times I have been on the verge of deleting an hour of recorded improvisation because it felt terrible while I was playing, only to be horrified the next day at my intention to do so. I honestly don't know why this happens, and the converse hardly ever occurs. It is obviously in the mind but I have no idea why. I can only conclude that during creation, and indeed, perhaps performance, the brain works itself up into a fever pitch of critical sensitivity quite divorced from its state during relaxed listening. The important thing is maybe not to worry about it, as almost every player seems to experience it in one form or another, and it cannot be relied upon as a long-term value judgement.
"When I was young they said, 'Ah, wait until you are old, then you'll see.' Well, now I am old, and I have seen nothing." - Erik Satie

Offline mjames

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Re: What you hear vs. What the audience hear
«Reply #3 on: August 07, 2018, 08:30:06 AM »
Lmao yeah tl;dr but I feel your friend. My playing always sounds way uglier in my head than it does on recordings.
Composing/improvising

Chopin's 4th ballade and 3rd sonata.
Scriabin Op. 42 no. 1, 2, and 3.
Bach Partita No.4

Offline timothy42b

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Re: What you hear vs. What the audience hear
«Reply #4 on: August 07, 2018, 01:08:45 PM »
Although I do have a small repertoire of pieces, I can comment mainly about improvisation, and there the listening mind is certainly a very peculiar thing; even the musical merit of the same recordings and sections of recordings can markedly differ from day to day.

I read an interview with Ravi Shankar, the sitar player.

He was asked if he was improvising, or playing a set piece.  He replied that it was a standard piece that he played the same way every time.

then they showed him in a recording that he was playing different notes.  He said yes of course, but those differences aren't significant. 
Tim

Offline ted

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Re: What you hear vs. What the audience hear
«Reply #5 on: August 08, 2018, 12:45:33 AM »
I read an interview with Ravi Shankar, the sitar player.

He was asked if he was improvising, or playing a set piece.  He replied that it was a standard piece that he played the same way every time.

then they showed him in a recording that he was playing different notes.  He said yes of course, but those differences aren't significant. 

Thatís interesting. Exactly which features are permanent and which transient for any given improviser probably constitute that which the listener ascribes as characterising the player. A given feature can be a meritorious personal feature or an annoying mannerism according to an individual listener.
"When I was young they said, 'Ah, wait until you are old, then you'll see.' Well, now I am old, and I have seen nothing." - Erik Satie