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Do today's performers care too much about avoiding wrong notes? (Read 848 times)

Offline anacrusis

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This is something I reflect on sometimes. If you listen to old live recordings, I feel on average the big names back then played more wrong notes than the big names today. Yet at the same time, I often find older recordings to bemore exciting, on average, than new recordings.

This does not, of course, mean that I think more wong notes equals more exciting playing, but at the same time I wonder if pianists today spend more of their focus on making sure they don't make mistakes, and that something about the excitement and daring of the old school pianists is lost in the process.

For students, it can be tempting to use the idea of "I don't care about mistakes, I prioritize going for it and making it exciting" as an excuse for not practising or developing your technique properly, and this is not what I mean. I think the giants back then were very capable of playing everything, but in the heat of the moment they just slightly missed the right key. I think this is different from making a mistake due to not feeling in physical command or at ease at the instrument, which is more likely to be the case with students.

I think seeking to develop a solid, clean technique can coexist with taking risks, daring, and paying the price of slightly more wrong notes for the reward of more exciting playing - assuming you can play everything clean should you choose to. At least that's what I imagine is within the realm of possiblity for today's top professionals.

What do you guys think? Do professional pianists focus a bit too much on playing cleanly today, at the expense of other qualities? Or is this all in my head?  ;D

Offline ranjit

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Re: Do today's performers care too much about avoiding wrong notes?
«Reply #1 on: July 31, 2021, 10:40:03 PM »
Imo yes, and I blame competitions and recordings.

Online brogers70

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Re: Do today's performers care too much about avoiding wrong notes?
«Reply #2 on: August 01, 2021, 12:03:07 AM »
Somebody, I think, said that there's a big difference in the sound of a mistake made through fear or lack of preparation and a mistake made from elan.

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Do today's performers care too much about avoiding wrong notes?
«Reply #3 on: August 01, 2021, 12:37:06 AM »
It's quite easy nowadays to produce a recording without errors but it is not a "live" performance. I have never attended any piano solo live concert where there wasn't a least one mistake in each challenging piece, but have heard plenty recordings where all errors are edited out with retakes or software. There are also recordings that have been sped up, people do it to try and impress I see that on YouTube all the time which is quite pathetic.

I don't understand the idea of risk taking and errors, you take risks and work hard to contain errors that may arise. I don't think it's ever a good idea to play wildly just for the sake of it but not spent ample time working out how you control that.

Anyone who is severely disturbed by a single wrong note or small smudge in a performance has a mental problem. You can't help those people sometimes. Some people approach piano solo world with recordings and they only have their favorite recordings, small minded people, you can't help them either.

Note perfect playing to me doesn't improve a performance a huge deal. Recordings of computers are utterly lifeless and boring even though all the notes are correct. I think also listening to edited human recordings where all errors are masked or removed is also bad. When you hear these pianists live you can be set up for disappointment. I certainly experienced that after being impressed by recordings then hearing the live pianist only to be dissappointed. Certainly a difference between live and recording artists these days.
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Offline perfect_pitch

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Re: Do today's performers care too much about avoiding wrong notes?
«Reply #4 on: August 01, 2021, 01:25:42 AM »
Maybe pianists today should start 'finger-synching'.

Just kidding - I say that to raise a point about how 'lip-synching' and 'auto-tune' is ruining the music industry.

Do you think there is more challenge for pianists these days to try and make a name for themselves? I mean China alone apparently has 150 million children/teenagers learning violin or piano - that number is astounding in the percentage of the population learning an instrument.

I guess it's also a balance. Imagine a pianist who can play the piece emotionally convincing and has every single right note. How many mistakes could he get away with before the piece loses appeal. One note won't sully it, but maybe 5 wrong notes, 10 notes might...

I don't heavily edit my videos. I'll admit, there are times when there are small slips and I hope that nobody really cares about the odd wrong note here and there. Maybe that's why my videos however aren't getting as many views as other people on YouTube.

Should I have everything note perfect?

Offline ranjit

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Re: Do today's performers care too much about avoiding wrong notes?
«Reply #5 on: August 01, 2021, 01:55:05 AM »
If you look at music as a means of expression, there is something different between the act of someone talking to you, or even giving a speech in public, and listening to a recording of the same. The reactions of the audience somehow affect what they are saying, and it is a shared experience. Ideally, this is what one would expect from a performer. However, if the performer is a machine, so to speak, I would much rather listen to a recording.

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Do today's performers care too much about avoiding wrong notes?
«Reply #6 on: August 01, 2021, 11:43:23 AM »
I don't heavily edit my videos. I'll admit, there are times when there are small slips and I hope that nobody really cares about the odd wrong note here and there. Maybe that's why my videos however aren't getting as many views as other people on YouTube.

Should I have everything note perfect?
You need to be a younger woman and show some cleavage and leg, then your view counts explode.
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Offline lelle

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Re: Do today's performers care too much about avoiding wrong notes?
«Reply #7 on: August 04, 2021, 11:47:19 PM »
Totally agree. I wish modern performers took more risks. I have heard many of the top names today live and it was fine, very professional. But I often long for that extra spark, that fire of life blood that people like Rubinstein, Cortot and Horowitz had.

Offline anacrusis

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Re: Do today's performers care too much about avoiding wrong notes?
«Reply #8 on: August 14, 2021, 11:28:09 PM »
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, glad I'm not the only one to think this way. In fact, I feel this is rather widespread among audiences, and that begs the question, why do pianists still care so much about playing cleanly at the expense of other qualities? Surely, even pianists appreciate other pianists who make slightly more errors but truly go for it?

Offline dogperson

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Re: Do today's performers care too much about avoiding wrong notes?
«Reply #9 on: August 15, 2021, 03:10:59 PM »
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, glad I'm not the only one to think this way. In fact, I feel this is rather widespread among audiences, and that begs the question, why do pianists still care so much about playing cleanly at the expense of other qualities? Surely, even pianists appreciate other pianists who make slightly more errors but truly go for it?


I find the piano community, as a whole, to be very critical of an occasional missed noteó- and Iím not talking about a slew of them just a small number. 

Offline j_tour

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Re: Do today's performers care too much about avoiding wrong notes?
«Reply #10 on: August 15, 2021, 03:57:22 PM »
Surely, even pianists appreciate other pianists who make slightly more errors but truly go for it?

No, I do not find they do.  It's part craftsmanship, and part "I learned it the hard way, so go back to school, you young whippersnapper!"

But among general audiences, it's more that they don't know what to listen for, so they can easily detect various ephemera and pretend to advance a rank in their cultural capital.

Like Mme Verdurin in Proust, with her carefully staged "concerts" while following along with the score.

"I didn't hear one wrong note!  Herbie Hancock is a genius!"

And so forth.
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Offline ranjit

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Re: Do today's performers care too much about avoiding wrong notes?
«Reply #11 on: August 15, 2021, 06:10:42 PM »
No, I do not find they do.  It's part craftsmanship, and part "I learned it the hard way, so go back to school, you young whippersnapper!"

But among general audiences, it's more that they don't know what to listen for, so they can easily detect various ephemera and pretend to advance a rank in their cultural capital.
Agreed. The actual pianists have trauma psych, and the plebeians want something to one-up the performer.

Offline lelle

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Re: Do today's performers care too much about avoiding wrong notes?
«Reply #12 on: August 16, 2021, 11:53:59 PM »
Agreed. The actual pianists have trauma psych, and the plebeians want something to one-up the performer.

What do you mean with trauma psych?

Offline ranjit

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Re: Do today's performers care too much about avoiding wrong notes?
«Reply #13 on: August 17, 2021, 02:45:53 AM »
What do you mean with trauma psych?
I'm referring to the years spent with imposter syndrome etc. We've struggled, so you've got to pay your dues too. It's not always antagonistic, but it's usually there nevertheless.

Offline anacrusis

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Re: Do today's performers care too much about avoiding wrong notes?
«Reply #14 on: August 17, 2021, 08:59:51 PM »
Based on my years in music college, I'd say the majority of musicians I have met would benefit from some therapy  :P

Offline lelle

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Re: Do today's performers care too much about avoiding wrong notes?
«Reply #15 on: August 22, 2021, 09:58:21 PM »
I'm referring to the years spent with imposter syndrome etc. We've struggled, so you've got to pay your dues too. It's not always antagonistic, but it's usually there nevertheless.

I'm sorry but I still don't follow (genuinely curious though). Can you clarify?

Offline cantilena

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Re: Do today's performers care too much about avoiding wrong notes?
«Reply #16 on: August 23, 2021, 02:13:11 PM »
You need to be a younger woman and show some cleavage and leg, then your view counts explode.
Unfortunately, this seems to be the case, and probably always has been. People are attracted to attractive people, whether they're playing the piano, acting, or whatever.