275 • The Seven Fundamental Fallacies in musical expression

As discussed in Pants on fire: In language it is possible to lie and in music it is not. The content of a song or a symphony cannot be presented with the intent of infinite deceit. If a piece carries a misguiding title, e.g. a piece is named "Happy days" while the music is like Tchaikovsky's 6th (thank you Peter), the deceit is the title, not the music. Deceptive cadences are also not actually lies, but rather expressive statements that create expectations which, in harmonic music, always resolve ~ as does the deceptive cadence. Music is not a medium for deception.

Language is. Even further: In language it is possible to speak with belief and conviction while the information transmitted is not factually true, e.g. misguided or ignorant information such as insisting that "the moon is made of cheese" or "gnomes steal underpants" or "earth was created six thousand years ago" or "I know what's good for me." Unintentional lying.

Curiously it is possible to perform music with belief and conviction and at the same time produce a misguided and philistrous interpretation, which is similar to unintentional lying in language.

Lying in conversation or a “life performance” with language is possible but more difficult than in writing. For most "It wasn't me" is harder to say than to write if it's not true. And then there is the observation and analysis of Microexpressions: When a person is lying about relevant matters under pressure, e.g. interrogation, about e.g. breaking secular or religious laws, tiny (as in 0.25 secs) and uncontrollable (because unconscious) contractions of facial muscles reveal underlying and inevitably true emotions like surprise, happiness, sadness, fear, disgust, anger, and contempt in relation to the statement. If lying is intentional, Microexpressions, which are similar across all cultures of human civilization(!), are revealing and reliable indicators of the true relation to the expressed information (while body language and even pulse can be trained to express at will). If a person believes to tell the truth, even if the information is a factual lie, no involuntary facial contractions take place. Most factual statements can be researched or corroborated by common sense, science, or forensics.

Truth is relative and subjective to the individual, but the relation of the individual to its subjective truths is absolute and objective and it can be recognized through observation of Microexpressions.

This leads me to a particularly relevant observation and resulting pedagogical method, the Seven Fundamental Fallacies approach:

It is impossible to intentionally lie in music because container (medium) and content (message) are an inseparable amalgam, an ygwyh phenomenon. There are, however, plenty philistrous interpretations full of conviction, vigor, and vim; not to mention poorly prepared, dilettante, golemnous, uninformed, and incomplete ones – which is similar to unintentional lying in language. For the music loving and methodical pedagogue, similarities of deficiency must be observed, analyzed, and elucidated.

Music has fundamental governing principles, Rhythm, Harmony, and Melody; see: 141 • The Holy Trinity of Music. Instrumental performance has fundamental physical principles such as biomechanics, gravity, and tension. And when the precepts of musical or physical principles, from whence truth and beauty emerge, are ignored (knowingly or not), particular universal problems - fundamental fallacies - can be observed across all piano schools, ages of the performer, and stages of development.

When the precepts of these principles are obeyed, we experience the performance as "musical", "compelling" and even "talented"; and when these principles are ignored ~ voluntarily or, much more common, involuntarily ~, we experience the performance as "unmusical", "unconvincing" and even "bad". The further an interpretation of a piece in performance is from these principles, the less musical and compelling it sounds. The more obedient an interpretation of a piece in performance is to these principles, the more communicative and inspiring it sounds.

Microexpressions give away truth in speech to the sensitive observer, e.g. a profiler, negotiator, diplomat, or James Bourne. Fundamental Fallacies in musical expression - the negation of basic musical principles - can be instantly recognized and addressed by the initiated and observant pedagogue. To recognize, point out, and provide foresight and remedy for these universal fatal flaws in musical (and instrumental) expression is an extremely effective pedagogical tool. A methodical synopsis:

The Seven Fundamental Fallacies in musical expression:

• Metric Constipation
Principle disobeyed: Rhythm
Main symptom: Waiting before the target note.
Remedy: Always go to the big note; take time afterward. Never wait before the one (with exceptions)! Instead: arrive and then, if necessary, wait on the one, witness the efflorescent sound.

• Dynamic Atrophy
Principle disobeyed: Melody
Main symptom: Target note of natural dynamic curve is played out of context, very often softer than the impetus of crescendo suggests.
Subcategory: Banana sound – starts thin, gets fat, ends thin.
Remedy: Play the target note as the dynamic culmination of the melodic arc.

Metric Constipation and Dynamic Atrophy often go hand in hand. A good phrase needs direction and a culmination expressed by dynamics.

• Harmonic Sociopathy
Principle disobeyed: Harmony
Main symptom: Playing a dissonant chord dynamically equal to a consonant one and/or playing a chord without an individual expression, color, or balance, and ultimately meaning.
Remedy: Chords have functions and characters, get to know them and don't be a stranger.

• Rhythmic Pedantry
Principle disobeyed: Rhythm and Expression.
Main symptom: Playing small note values as exactly even subdivisions of big notes, metric beancounting.
Subcategory: Golemnous Rhythm. Playing in equal and small rhythmic subdivisions without differentiation.
Remedy: Gesture. 4 1/16 are not equal to 1 1/4 divided by 4! Small notes lean, hurry towards the big note. The big note takes a little more space/time.

• Endless Sausage
Principle disobeyed: Structure and Physics
Main symptom: Playing a large passage entirely without subdivision (or trying to do so).
Subcategory: Machine Gun. Same as Endless Sausage but all loud.
Remedy: More than 10 note passages must have rhythmical subdivision, usually on structural points.

Rhythmic Pedantry and Endless Sausage sometimes go hand in hand.

• Pantomime Menace
Principle disobeyed: Essence and Purpose
Main symptom: Mannerisms such as throwing the head back, the arms high, stomping and shaking, grimacing to the music for the lens and the uneducated ear. The pretense of original and emotional content by exorbitant acting.
Remedy: Body language of classical musicians has to obey the demands and desires of classical music, not self-promotion or a marketing scheme.

• Forklift Arms
Principle disobeyed: Good sound, i.e. balance
Main symptom: Bad, because same, distribution of weight between arms, compromised balance; usually left hand too loud in relation to the right - overtone structures are parasitic rather than euphonic, sound is dull and ranges from poor to noisy.
Remedy: Independence of arms, the right hand (or melodic part) needs on average twice as much volume. Often four times.

Balance, i.e. timbre or color, is a subcategory of Harmony when stationary and of Harmony and Melody when on horizontal trajectory. Forklift Arms is a basic mistake particular to the physical application of piano practice (like Sausage Fingers or Noodle Wrists). Other instruments have their own issues, e.g.: Wooden Elbow for strings, Wobbly Lips for winds, and Throat Dumpling for voices.


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