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Performers who (almost) never look at the keyboard? (Read 1328 times)

Offline 00mlm27

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Performers who (almost) never look at the keyboard?
« on: September 07, 2020, 11:19:11 AM »
Not talking about the you should/shouldn't look at you hands debate, I just love how some performers like Bill Evans or Keith Jarrett close their eyes while they play and emanate this transcendental connection with the piano and music in general. I would like to collect a few more names of this kind of performers, you know some?

Offline j_tour

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Re: Performers who (almost) never look at the keyboard?
«Reply #1 on: September 07, 2020, 06:53:22 PM »
This may not be what you're looking for, but supposedly the Chicago blues pianist Otis Spann favored turning out the lights in the studio, at least sometimes, leading to performances like "Otis in the Dark."

I think Garth Hudson from The Band did quite a bit of eyes-closed playing, but that's just a guess.

Of course there are any number of blind (or nearly so) pianists, but that's not really a performance choice.

I do find it more common, at least in various kinds of group improvisation settings, keeping eye contact with the drummer or the bassist, or even maintaining eyes on the audience, say, sort of counts as not looking at the keyboard, but that's not quite the same thing.

Plenty of guitar players seem to use closed-eyes, but for all I know that's just so they look cool to the audience.  :D
My name is Nellie, and I take pride in helping protect the children of my community through active leadership roles in my local church and in the Boy Scouts of America.  Bad word make me sad.

Offline volcanoadam

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Re: Performers who (almost) never look at the keyboard?
«Reply #2 on: September 08, 2020, 07:18:25 PM »
Plenty of guitar players seem to use closed-eyes, but for all I know that's just so they look cool to the audience.  :D
I don't think it's just to look cool. Our perception of the world completely changes with eyes closed. As our brains have less information to process we get more responsive to other senses. It's not unusual that people  who lose their sight have other senses sharpened, like hearing, touch or smell and taste.
Notice that, when listening music with eyes closed (especially in the darkness) you can turn the volume down and still hear more details than with eyes open.
I myself also close my eyes when I want to hear my music and not just play it, but not for long because it usually ends with disaster  :D
VA

Offline j_tour

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Re: Performers who (almost) never look at the keyboard?
«Reply #3 on: September 09, 2020, 03:04:16 AM »
I don't think it's just to look cool. Our perception of the world completely changes with eyes closed. As our brains have less information to process we get more responsive to other senses. It's not unusual that people  who lose their sight have other senses sharpened, like hearing, touch or smell and taste.
Notice that, when listening music with eyes closed (especially in the darkness) you can turn the volume down and still hear more details than with eyes open.
I myself also close my eyes when I want to hear my music and not just play it, but not for long because it usually ends with disaster  :D

Well, you and I might have played with or watched different guitar-slingers!

I agree with you:  my way of doing it is to work relentlessly away from the keyboard, such that the "interface" between the ocular and the aural systems are minimized.  I don't make an effort to close my eyes (that sounds like a lot of muscular work!), but I do make sure that the sound is right and the notes are close enough.

More or less different techniques to get closer to the music, and minimize distractions, is how I would call what I strive for.
My name is Nellie, and I take pride in helping protect the children of my community through active leadership roles in my local church and in the Boy Scouts of America.  Bad word make me sad.

Offline comma

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Re: Performers who (almost) never look at the keyboard?
«Reply #4 on: November 14, 2020, 11:50:07 AM »
You can add this one (beginning at 21:30): https://youtu.be/1PjwhLqDUr8

Offline pianoplunker

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Re: Performers who (almost) never look at the keyboard?
«Reply #5 on: December 11, 2020, 01:42:49 PM »
This may not be what you're looking for, but supposedly the Chicago blues pianist Otis Spann favored turning out the lights in the studio, at least sometimes, leading to performances like "Otis in the Dark."

I think Garth Hudson from The Band did quite a bit of eyes-closed playing, but that's just a guess.

Of course there are any number of blind (or nearly so) pianists, but that's not really a performance choice.

I do find it more common, at least in various kinds of group improvisation settings, keeping eye contact with the drummer or the bassist, or even maintaining eyes on the audience, say, sort of counts as not looking at the keyboard, but that's not quite the same thing.

Plenty of guitar players seem to use closed-eyes, but for all I know that's just so they look cool to the audience.  :D

Playing without looking is imperative if you are singing into a mic while playing. One cannot move the lips away from the mic to look at keys or frets.  One reason I have trouble with sight-reading is because of looking at keys and getting lost.  I dont need to close my eyes to look cool - I just naturally look cool ;-)  But overall I think not looking is a good thing to learn early on. I wish I had

Offline j_tour

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Re: Performers who (almost) never look at the keyboard?
«Reply #6 on: December 11, 2020, 08:06:02 PM »
Playing without looking is imperative if you are singing into a mic while playing. One cannot move the lips away from the mic to look at keys or frets.

That's one of the best things I've read here in a while:  yeah.  That actually never occurred to me, but it should have.  So many bands like to brag that "everyone sings," but, it's my misfortune or fortune that I just  have the Glenn Gould sort of singing voice.  IOW, it's pretty much in key, and relatively precise, but it sounds just terrible.  It's entirely my fault, not any kind of handicap:  just, zero effort on my part.  And it shows.

That said, I do know how to use a microphone, and, yes, one cannot...well, I could not, anyway, maintain the right distance from the microphone while also fumbling around with looking at the physical keyboard, nor any notation.

The microphone is itself, in my view, itself an instrument, even if one uses it in pedestrian ways like making announcements and so forth.  You know, there's more or less subtle ways to use the diaphragm, in addition to not being a rube and tapping on the windshield or all that stuff everyone hates.

At best, my compromise is to glance at the keys/hands/feet every few seconds, but it's really a subconscious kind of check.  I would say a habit, I suppose. 

I might be coming up on the stupid side of things, but from reading this forum for a while, I think there's a bit of a gap of knowledge and language between those who are primarily recital or concert pianists and those who regularly play chamber music or other close-combat kinds of music.
My name is Nellie, and I take pride in helping protect the children of my community through active leadership roles in my local church and in the Boy Scouts of America.  Bad word make me sad.

Offline timothy42b

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Re: Performers who (almost) never look at the keyboard?
«Reply #7 on: December 18, 2020, 02:42:45 PM »
Some time back I was at a British style brass band competition today.

One performance was particularly moving and I closed my eyes to really focus when
...

...

Whack!

I got an eight year old's elbow in my ribs, and an accusing voice said, "Daddy! you were asleep."

But yes, we do perceive differently with eyes shut. 
Tim