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Re: Are you faithful or do you "stray"?
sandalholme #1613717 02/06/11 06:15 AM
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Originally Posted by sandalholme
Composers are entitled to play/change their own compositions. We are entitled to play the way it feels to us, but let us not kid ourselves that we are "improving" on the original. We are still interpreting it.


When does "interpretation" cease to be just that and become something else, something more, something different, perhaps something better? Even slight changes in tempo and/or dynamics - as one simple example - from those indicated by the composer can transform a piece into potentially an "improved" or "enhanced" piece (not to mention any of the other techniques I listed in the OP) - and not only you, as the interpreter, would think so, but others as well - maybe even the composer! Perhaps it's better to say that you shouldn't kid yourself into thinking that no piece can be improved at all.

In this regard, what are we to think of the many works that take this idea to an extreme - those that have a title such as "Variations on a Theme of Composer XYZ" where the entire purpose is to demonstare one's skill at creating as many alterations, variations and modifications as possible?

JF


Every difficulty slurred over will be a ghost to disturb your repose later on. Frederic Chopin

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Re: Are you faithful or do you "stray"?
TrapperJohn #1614512 02/07/11 11:19 AM
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Composing variations on another composer's work creates a new composition, which may be better or worse than the original, depending upon the listener's preference. Jacques Loussier re-composed Bach in a different style. This is different from my playing a Beethoven sonata, where I do not set out to create a new composition, but to honour the original composition whilst at the same time, inevitably and justifiably, stamping my own response to the music. Consciously trying to improve upon the original, but not re-composing or significantly altering the notation, may be legitimate, but I do not believe many people have the musicality to "improve" Beethoven merely by altering rhythm, dynamics etc. Interpreters simply seek to present their own response to the original: the fact that so many valid and convincing interpretations convince so many people just demonstrates how flexible and full of meaning the original composition has.
It comes down to intention: my intention is to play Beethoven, another's intention might be to present Beethoven as Beethoven/revised Frederick Smith.

Re: Are you faithful or do you "stray"?
sandalholme #1615479 02/08/11 06:24 PM
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Originally Posted by sandalholme
...This is different from my playing a Beethoven sonata, where I do not set out to create a new composition, but to honour the original composition whilst at the same time, inevitably and justifiably, stamping my own response to the music.


sandalholme - I'm very tempted to agree with you - at least in part - and especially when you phrase it like that - it's hard to be disagreeable when someone spells honor with a "u", says "whilst" and speaks of "stamping my own response" - very nice indeed! I love this language thumb

JF


Every difficulty slurred over will be a ghost to disturb your repose later on. Frederic Chopin

Current favorite bumper sticker: Wag more, bark less.
Re: Are you faithful or do you "stray"?
TrapperJohn #1615898 02/09/11 06:58 AM
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Thank you for those kind words. Agreement of course is not sought: exchange of ideas is the reason why I lurk around this forum. There have been a number of occasions when I have returned to a score after reading views on the forum and realised that my approach should not be quite as fixed and certain.
One of the beauties of playing great music is that there is always something new to discover, from the music itself, the feeling of the moment and from other approaches to it.

Re: Are you faithful or do you "stray"?
TrapperJohn #1615991 02/09/11 10:42 AM
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Originally Posted by John Frank
Originally Posted by Stanza
...On "American Idol" if singers try to be true to the original song they, are bashed as being "Karoyke".



smile

I think it was former NY Times music critic Harold Schonberg in his praiseworthy book "The Great Pianists: From Mozart to the Present" who wrote about how way back in the salad days of Classical music composers and performers were expected to be able with great skill and natural facility to invent or improvise almost endless variations, permutations and combinations on themes not only from their own works but from those of any and all other composer - and if they didn't or couldn't or were generally incompetent at this "art" they were widely scorned and relagated to the ranks of amateur or pretender, if not altogether banished from polite society. laugh

They frequently engaged in intense improvisational competitions. Some actually thought that Clementi was a better technician than Mozart and that Hummel could play circles around Beethoven! Imagine that! This might have been the fore-runner of our "American Idol" - perhaps we could call this "Early Austrian Idol" smile

JF


We must not forget that at the time these were not "dead guys in powdered wigs" they were young viral men, trying to impress the ladies and men with money. The were "shredding" just like the rockers of today.

Last edited by Stanza; 02/09/11 10:43 AM.

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Re: Are you faithful or do you "stray"?
sandalholme #1617102 02/10/11 06:42 PM
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Originally Posted by sandalholme
One of the beauties of playing great music is that there is always something new to discover, from the music itself, the feeling of the moment and from other approaches to it.


Well said - especially that part about "from other approaches to it", including performer generated enhancements smile

JF


Every difficulty slurred over will be a ghost to disturb your repose later on. Frederic Chopin

Current favorite bumper sticker: Wag more, bark less.
Re: Are you faithful or do you "stray"?
TrapperJohn #1617104 02/10/11 06:43 PM
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Stray, baby, stray!

But know how to come back too.

Then stray again!


II. As in, second best.
Only lowercase. So not even that.
I teach piano and violin.
BM, Violin & Percussion Performance 2009, Piano Pedagogy 2011.
Re: Are you faithful or do you "stray"?
TrapperJohn #1617598 02/11/11 12:07 PM
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I guess I'm mostly a parrot, at least when I'm first learning something new & trying to get the notes under my fingers, and getting the timing technically "just right", and the phrasing "just so", and with all due diligence to dynamics. Once I'm able to successfully & faithfully reproduce the notes on the page I'm more comfortable with bringing the peice to life and then and only then I'll stray, but not too far. I've only been able to do that with very few peices I've learned and if I've progressed that far I've probably memorized the peice-something that helps me a great deal with this. So I tend not to stray.

Even so, I'm a happy parrot. I very much enjoy mastering the physicality of playing piano even if the result is not particulary musical to an audience that will never pay me to play for them. If ever I'm in a position to play something casually for anyone who might be interested, I'll usually select something I've memorized so it sounds more musical. If the person happens to share my interst in the piano then I'll pull out some sheet music and do my parrot act. Depending on their own level, and how far along I am in the physical process, they are either impressed with my technical achievement or cringing at my lack of muscial achievement.

Still, sometimes I want to stray. I really do.



Jeff
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Re: Are you faithful or do you "stray"?
TrapperJohn #1617629 02/11/11 12:42 PM
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Jeff, in spite of what I have written on this subject, it is clear that part of you wants to experiment, have fun beyond the written notes. Go ahead! It's not an "either/or". Music is for enjoyment, however we achieve it. There's no right or wrong, just whatever suits us. Maybe 90% parrot, 10% straying?

Re: Are you faithful or do you "stray"?
sandalholme #1618057 02/12/11 06:59 AM
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Originally Posted by sandalholme
Jeff, in spite of what I have written on this subject, it is clear that part of you wants to experiment, have fun beyond the written notes. Go ahead! It's not an "either/or". Music is for enjoyment, however we achieve it. There's no right or wrong, just whatever suits us. Maybe 90% parrot, 10% straying?


Well, see what can happen when one engages in dialog at the highest, most informed and most rational level - first I soften my approach, moderate my expectations, admit that there is much merit in strict pianistic interpretations and generally come to at least partial agreement with the opinion of another on these matters - and now the same thing happens from the other side of the issue.

Ah, great minds meeting in the middle - or at least coming a little closer to it!

JF


Every difficulty slurred over will be a ghost to disturb your repose later on. Frederic Chopin

Current favorite bumper sticker: Wag more, bark less.
Re: Are you faithful or do you "stray"?
TrapperJohn #1618061 02/12/11 07:22 AM
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Anyone who doesn't want to stray. Yet not be caught up being a parrot and failing to actually make music. They should study what Seiji Ozawa does with Beethoven. I had a recording of him doing Beethoven's 9th. Otherwise referred to as Ode to Joy. It's a fantastic piece of music. Seiji brings it to life. All of his timing, crescendo's, hesitations, etc., everything is done fantastic. I've listened to many other great Symphony's do it. They just don't cut it. A person can learn much from Seiji.

Otherwise, this thread is what Jazz is all about. Jazz has no rules. Jazz has no limits. Yes, there are things traditional Jazz is recognized as containing. But any Jazz player will agree that you can do anything. Just Jazz it up!


Ron
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The focus of your personal practice is discipline. Not numbers. Scott Sonnon
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Re: Are you faithful or do you "stray"?
TrapperJohn #1619536 02/14/11 05:58 AM
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John, I am reminded of Brahms hearing an unorthodox performance of his work (Violin concerto?) saying words to the effect 'So, it can be done that way'
Musicality - which is a subjective assessment - is the core issue. I personally prefer to stick largely with the composer's instructions - vague as they are sometimes, but there is a spectrum from 1. rigid adherence to the written instructions, 2. very respectful interpretation, 3. fairly free interpretation, 4.using the notes primarily as a basis for self-expression, 5. using the notes as a basis for re-composition/improvisation. Let's assume all can be musically valid.
I guess I see all of those as OK but 1. and 4. contain the greatest risks of being unmusical: 1. can be just dull and 4. can be too self-indulgent. We were I think discussing the areas around 2.to 4.
Not written to re-open the debate, merely clarifying (for my sake) my thoughts. Which is the joy of the forum.
Thank you for engaging and helping me think through this issue.

Re: Are you faithful or do you "stray"?
BeethovenForEver #1634842 03/06/11 01:31 PM
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Originally Posted by John Frank

1. Change a note here and there - either in the melody or the accompaniment. If a certain note in a passage doesn't sound quite right to you see if you can find another one that does, and replace it. Maybe the original note sounded a little dissonant and you don't like it - or conversely, maybe it sounded too bland and adding a dissonant note gives a certain "kick" to the sound at that point. Suit yourself here - what you play has to please you first and foremost.


I've had a few times where my teacher was waiting for me to play a wrong note that was indeed changed by many students because we thought it was a typing error. It sounded wrong, more accurately "dissonant" The courtesy notation was trying to trip you up anyway wink I have even notated a few pieces and was confused when a big ugly chord appear in the piece. We I showed it to my teacher she said "that makes sense, tension and then release..". There was a grace note which was real ugly too. When I got the official sheet-music the dirty chord and nasty grace note was there. I did combine arrangements from the official and bootleg recordings with new arrangements.

So I now don't question dissonant notes/chords but wonder the motivation behind them.


Originally Posted by Anthony2010
Interesting question and comments. It’s curious though, because in the Pop & Rock world you hear so many different versions and improvisations from the original song, Eva Cassidy comes to mind. I was staggered to find out that the song Patsy Cline sang "Crazy" was actually written and performed by Willie Nelson - I’m not mad about his version of it, but he wrote it!

Yeah you'll get a lot of people telling you the original is the best like it is a peer-reviewed scientific law. Its the first version they heard, nothing more. A lot of the times the version they're praising isn't the original.

They are too many artists making songs their own for this to be true. Concerning Eva, other than her voice the Eva Cassidy songs that stood out for me were the simple acoustic songs with no big band drowning out her voice. On the radio here when a singer comes in and sings live with only a guitar or piano the songs is 100 times better. We didn't realise there was a song under all that production.

For Eva-esque songs Christel Alsos from Norway is worth a look. Her live stuff has an addictive sadness that Eva fans will know about.


"Still" would be my favourite. Its up there with Eva's Autumn Leaves for sadness. Its a nice sadness though.



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