Archive for the ‘Musical Concerns’ Category

170 • A sonata is a sonata is a sonata

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

Music is its own language that works and speaks exclusively from within itself. It unfolds on several hierarchical levels in time and connects metaphorically to the archetypes of man. And as an art - like poetry - it doesn't tell us: it reveals. Ask Gertrude Stein.

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141 • The Holy Trinity of Music

Friday, August 26th, 2011

The Holy Trinity of Music: Rhythm, Harmony, and Melody.

Rhythm is like organized space, architecture in time - a matrix that is warped and sectioned by the gravity of larger entities which attract smaller ones; in the same way there is a pull towards the larger, more important note, often the first beat; smaller notes belong to and move towards the bigger note. Rhythm is also an organic cycle that has properties of inevitability in continuity. While tempo is speed, rhythm can for example be sharp or mellow and thus define and express the character of the music it gives foundation to. Rhythm is like the skeleton that gives the body shape.

Harmony is a force like gravity of a planet - a force demanding the return of a thrown or raised object back to the ground; the same way dissonant harmonies, having higher energy, need to be released, resolved into consonant ones. Dissonant chords, e.g. a dominant sevenths, like an acid or base, demand reaction until they are tonic. Harmony, independent of the different systems it serves, is also a force that emotionally stimulates the archetypes of our collective and individual memories and reality. It is like atmospheric pressure (dissonance) that needs to equalize (resolve), resulting in (harmonic) motion: wind (cadence). A chord can through color or spacing be happy, sad, mysterious, victorious, playful, sensual, odd, etc. - something to listen for*. Harmony is like the muscles covering the skeleton, giving movement, poise, strength, and expression to the body.

Melody is like aerodynamics above the surface of the planet - like air, it needs more energy to go up and releases energy when going down. Melody can also gather momentum as well as linger and soar in thermodynamics. Melody obeys natural dynamics: a raised voice is louder, a halved string needs double the bow movement, a smaller air column needs more air flow to vibrate. On the piano we have to recreate natural dynamics, as the piano has no such properties. Melody is like the skin, covering the contour given by the skeleton and the muscles, the first thing we encounter.

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105 • Bel Canto on the piano: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Saturday, May 28th, 2011

The art of Bel Canto on the piano is a magical skill, a rare achievement, one of the last secrets of the great romantic pianists. Bel Canto needs sublime control of the key and sound; fluid and caressing movements; perfect, almost overlapping legato; a cornucopia of overtones ranging from murmuring parlando to iridescent vibrato; a domineering diva for a right hand and a shy and submissive maestro for the left.

For the melody to sing in Bel Canto style, the timing of counterpoint and attention to bass line have to be sacrificed. In order to sing Bel Canto, one bends all forms to the whim of the melody.

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49 • Development of style

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

There is no development of style, only change; evolution is adaptation and the restrictive and textual, or romantic and free, or historical and proper rendering of score is not a matter of principle but of taste. And it is ultimately personal taste that creates cultural evolution, not the other way around.

33 • Learn to listen!

Sunday, May 8th, 2011

Learn to listen: At first you squeeze and pull and push the sound in to melodic expression. That's not satisfactory. You must learn to let the melody speak and sing by listening to each sound as it unfolds and dynamically connects to the next.
Melody is a curve of frequencies and therefore a dynamic range in time, on which notes are dropped or placed, NOT points connected by straight lines! Dynamics and Expression are inseparable connected.

14 • Rubato

Saturday, May 7th, 2011

Rubato is not taking time and then giving it back, not "returning a time debt", not slowing down and then speeding up to balance a metrical equation. Rubato is taking time and then returning to the previous tempo, essentially adding time.

Playing rubato with a metronome is almost impossible without adding a beat. Like a rubber band, which can't actually get smaller than it's size, meter returns to it's original shape after you stretch it. Like space curves around a large body and returns to its former 4D shape - you can't make up space/time once it's taken by rubato.

Decrescendo to a resolution, and crescendo to a destination needs a little extra time. A big decrescendo over several notes or bars towards the end of a phrase, cadence, or form sometimes needs a ritenuto. A big crescendo over several notes or bars towards the end of a phrase, cadence, or form sometimes needs an allargando.

Taking time for dynamic demands and desires is rubato. Use it sparsely, lest it will become mannerism and loose it's expressive meaning.

See: 287 • Terms of speed and volume

  • A weblog of thoughts, ideas, concepts, observations, suggestions, research, methodology, discoveries, rules, exceptions, aphorisms, and secrets from pianist to pianist.
Total number of posts: 436
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