377 • Solution to Sorites

How can we dare to aspire to an ideal interpretation of a masterpiece composition? The Flea Waltz perhaps, but Bach, Beethoven, Brahms? How can we contribute to a masterpiece so much greater than even the composer? When are we ready to make an absolute choice in interpretation?

A priori we must aspire to an infinite technique and a sage's understanding of music. We must base our aspiration on the knowledge of context and clean observations of the score with a minimum of interpretation ~ that provides a platform for true personal discovery. Our emotions are of course the driving force in this endeavor, expression not a goal but the premise of musical practice, and our personality will, by our choices, inevitably be present in our interpretations. We must choose with the wisdom of a cultivated intuition and boldly stand behind our interpretation with the conviction that our interpretation could hold as a universal example to all ~ in the sense of Kant's categorical imperative.

„Handle so, daß die Maxime deines Willens jederzeit zugleich als Prinzip einer allgemeinen Gesetzgebung gelten könne.“
“Act in such a way that the maxim of your will may at all times also hold as the principle of a universal law.”
Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)

How can we attain such categorical certainty, how can we make such a definite call in music interpretation (i.e. knowing the score)? A pragmatic solution (as in Mill and James kind of pragmatism) to the sorites paradox – a paradox of vagueness – can be a guiding light:

How many grains of sand make a soros, a heap? Let’s be pragmatic, life is short, and say: 10,000. Can we say that the 10,000th sand grain makes it a heap and that at 9,999 it is not yet a heap? Yes, according to this indeed pragmatic solution to the sorites paradox. Better than stoic silence to avoid mistakes. Better than the vagueness of a rendering of notation without context. Musical interpretation does not permit vagueness, but it thrives on the clarity of a cultivated intuition.

When are we ready to make an absolute choice in interpretation? Let’s be pragmatic, art is long, and say: as soon as possible after 10,000 hours; as long as we continue to practice and study with the aspiration to an infinite technique and a sage's understanding of music; as long as we pursue truth and beauty.

See: 93 • Hubris, Narcissism, and Humility


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