233 • There is no spoon!

Technical difficulty is an illusion insofar as the difficulty arises from subjectively set parameters. For example: the notion that a passage or a jump need to be at a particular speed is a subjectively set parameter.

There is no jump: there is only this note and that note and the time you need to get there.
There is no speed: there is only musical narrative and your current ability to express it.
There is no difficult passage: only clusters that lie comfortably under the cultivated hand, waiting to be compressed.

Composers never wrote music that was purposely difficult to execute ~ with a few exceptional pieces like Wanderer, Islamey, or Scarbo. Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms played their own music with profound authority and without agonizing about "difficulty"; Chopin's Etudes were comfortable for him, Liszt’s monstrous technique permitted him to play what he wrote with ease, Rachmaninoff wrote what he played. We easily forget how they arrived at those possibilities: based on extensive knowledge and comprehensive mastery of the basic techniques (scales, arpeggios, octaves, chords, trills, and polydactyla with all variations), after 10,000 hours of deliberate practice (or enlightened exposure), developing new formulas from the old, cultivating from slower pace to faster, and constantly adjusting subjectively set parameters within the zone of reliable comfort and ever growing ability.

The written score is never adverse; it appears difficult or frustrating only to the uninitiated eye. At any time you can play with perfect comfort and ease; it just might be quite slow at first. Proper understanding of the written score (i.e. melodic narrative and compressed clusters!) is paramount. You should increase speed at the rate that is comfortable while keeping precision, continuously improve your abilities with proper method (repetition with purpose), and let your technique grow to virtuoso transcendence in due time.

See: 192 • Jonathan Livingston Seagull


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