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Re: Avoiding recordings [Re: pianoloverus] #1919272
06/27/12 04:49 AM
06/27/12 04:49 AM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by wr
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by stores
What do you think people did before recordings came along? How did they manage? Gosh do you think that perhaps they worked things out for themselves? Could that be? Is that possible? Hey maybe everything we all "know" is wrong, since there isn't anything "concrete" like a recording left around from Bach, Mozart, or Beethoven. Give me a break. Learn enough to do it yourself. Learn enough to not need that recording.
Before the automobile was invented people had to walk or ride a horse. Should we all start doing that?



In terms of actually playing the piano, we are still basically doing the same thing as was done long before recordings came about. When I play a Chopin mazurka, I am still doing pretty much the same thing as Chopin did when he played the same piece. So, your transportation comparison doesn't work - the invention of recordings isn't to playing the piano as the invention of the automobile is to walking or riding horses.
My point was that before the automobile, traveling by car was not a choice so people either walked or rode a horse. Now there is a choice and people use a car if long distances are involved. Same thing for the ability to listen to a recording in terms of learning music(not as to playing music). So I think my comparison is OK.



That is a distinction that never would have occurred to me, because I have never learned a piece by listening to recordings of it. For example, I have listened to innumerable recordings of the Rach 3, but would never say I had learned it just because I am very familiar with it from recordings (plus the occasional reading through of the score at the piano).

Quote


It's mostly the same idea as when people say "What will you do if there is no recording?" I'd answer, "Obviously you won't be able to listen to a recording at any point." But this doesn't mean one will not be able to figure out how to play the piece. In fact, one could argue that all the listening to other pieces of music one did before will be helpful in learning the piece that has no recording.



Of course all the listening one does, whether live or recorded or of one's own playing, is helpful when learning something, whether it has been recorded or not. I think all of our experience comes into play.

But to me, the question is about how we want to approach learning specific pieces. Continuing with transportation analogies, finding out how music goes by using a recording of someone else's interpretation seems like riding a bike with training wheels - once you know how to ride, why would you continue to use that kind of crutch?


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Re: Avoiding recordings [Re: Exalted Wombat] #1919278
06/27/12 05:07 AM
06/27/12 05:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Exalted Wombat
Originally Posted by Cinnamonbear
Well, what I was trying to say (a little too simplistically, I guess) is that "sounding it out" applies to taking the time to work and puzzle and shape and polish a piece without anyone telling you "this is how it goes," because you discover "how it goes" as the work unfolds. Part of what I like about engaging a score in that way is when the "ah-ha!" moments arrive as different kinds of understandings come to my attention.


One point I would make - when you're peddling music at a "make your living" level, no-one is the slightest bit interested in your individual interpretation of a well-known piece. Your job is to discover the accepted version and copy it. Otherwise you won't be praised for creativity, just slated for getting it "wrong".



This reminded me of a phrase Liszt used, about "Herod pianists", who wash their hands of responsibility for what they play. That is, they avoided having an individual interpretation, and so couldn't be criticized for it. Some of that kind of thinking may be behind some people's listening to recordings - it's not so much that they can't come up with their own interpretation, it is that they don't want to take the responsibility for having one. It's much safer to rely on the already accepted interpretation that resides in a recording by Famous Pianist X.




Re: Avoiding recordings [Re: FSO] #1919283
06/27/12 06:03 AM
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I have been listening again to my CDs of the Liszt B minor Sonata played by Horowitz and Zimerman. Zimerman is of course a very different pianist to Horowitz, but who would have guessed that he copied something from that master (bringing out a 'hidden melody' just before the 'slow movement' in the texture)? Of course, it could be that Zimerman thought of that himself, rather than copying what he heard in Horowitz's recording, but no other pianist does it, and there's nothing in the score to indicate such a counter-melody.....

Maybe noone (not even a pianist) exists in a vacuum, and everyone of note influences everyone else grin.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Avoiding recordings [Re: wouter79] #1919284
06/27/12 06:05 AM
06/27/12 06:05 AM
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Originally Posted by wouter79
In midieval times it was considered a HONOUR if your stuff was being copied. Because it really shows that people like it. The bible also promotes such an approach: "Test all things, and hold firmly that which is good."


The prophets obviously had difficulty with the concept of ownership of an artistic work, as do many people today. Otherwise it would have come under "Thou shalt not steal" :-)

Re: Avoiding recordings [Re: wr] #1919286
06/27/12 06:17 AM
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Originally Posted by wr
Some critics and music lovers ridiculed Horowitz, Gould, Cortot, and other highly individual pianists, too...you just can't win.


This brings us back to my other point. Some pianists see the mission as expressing THEIR emotions, rather than attempting to convey the composer's. Every performance, bar the most elementary, goes a certain distance down this path of course. But when it's overdone, criticism is invited!

Now and again we hear a concert pianist play something like "Minuet in G". And too often, they make a complete dog's dinner of it - they just can't cope with the simplicity. Maybe in bigger works thay could usefully look for the simplicity too?

Re: Avoiding recordings [Re: Exalted Wombat] #1919294
06/27/12 06:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Exalted Wombat


Some pianists see the mission as expressing THEIR emotions, rather than attempting to convey the composer's.


Attempting to convey a composer's emotions is silly, unless you actually are the composer. All that anyone can do is convey their own emotions, as provoked by the score. Whether listeners are having some illusion that the pianist's emotions tally closely with the composer's, it is just that, an illusion.


Last edited by wr; 06/27/12 06:57 AM.
Re: Avoiding recordings [Re: wr] #1919296
06/27/12 06:58 AM
06/27/12 06:58 AM
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Originally Posted by wr

But to me, the question is about how we want to approach learning specific pieces. Continuing with transportation analogies, finding out how music goes by using a recording of someone else's interpretation seems like riding a bike with training wheels - once you know how to ride, why would you continue to use that kind of crutch?



Because to some of us, it isn't a crutch. It is a tool with which to study and enjoy the music we are learning.


"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything."
Re: Avoiding recordings [Re: bennevis] #1919298
06/27/12 07:09 AM
06/27/12 07:09 AM
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Originally Posted by bennevis


Maybe noone (not even a pianist) exists in a vacuum, and everyone of note influences everyone else grin.


And nobody in this thread has claimed otherwise.

However, hearing one example of one pianist possibly paying homage to another is hardly some kind of universal truth about how pianists may or may not influence each other.




Re: Avoiding recordings [Re: lilylady] #1919303
06/27/12 07:33 AM
06/27/12 07:33 AM
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Originally Posted by lilylady
Originally Posted by wr

But to me, the question is about how we want to approach learning specific pieces. Continuing with transportation analogies, finding out how music goes by using a recording of someone else's interpretation seems like riding a bike with training wheels - once you know how to ride, why would you continue to use that kind of crutch?



Because to some of us, it isn't a crutch. It is a tool with which to study and enjoy the music we are learning.


It doesn't matter whether you call it "tool" or "crutch", the function is the same.





Re: Avoiding recordings [Re: wr] #1919305
06/27/12 07:36 AM
06/27/12 07:36 AM
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Originally Posted by wr
Originally Posted by lilylady
Originally Posted by wr

But to me, the question is about how we want to approach learning specific pieces. Continuing with transportation analogies, finding out how music goes by using a recording of someone else's interpretation seems like riding a bike with training wheels - once you know how to ride, why would you continue to use that kind of crutch?



Because to some of us, it isn't a crutch. It is a tool with which to study and enjoy the music we are learning.


It doesn't matter whether you call it "tool" or "crutch", the function is the same.


Not in my mind. I do not use it as something needed to function, such as a crutch would be, but as a tool with which to continue to study the music.



"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything."
Re: Avoiding recordings [Re: FSO] #1919308
06/27/12 07:38 AM
06/27/12 07:38 AM
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Not that it matters in this conversation, but wr, are you a professional pianist?

You often have interesting posts.


"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything."
Re: Avoiding recordings [Re: lilylady] #1919319
06/27/12 08:04 AM
06/27/12 08:04 AM
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Originally Posted by lilylady
Not that it matters in this conversation, but wr, are you a professional pianist?

You often have interesting posts.


Who are you referring to?

Re: Avoiding recordings [Re: Exalted Wombat] #1919325
06/27/12 08:10 AM
06/27/12 08:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Exalted Wombat
Originally Posted by lilylady
Not that it matters in this conversation, but wr, are you a professional pianist?

You often have interesting posts.


Who are you referring to?


says wr

???


"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything."
Re: Avoiding recordings [Re: lilylady] #1919331
06/27/12 08:27 AM
06/27/12 08:27 AM
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Originally Posted by lilylady
Originally Posted by Exalted Wombat
Originally Posted by lilylady
Not that it matters in this conversation, but wr, are you a professional pianist?

You often have interesting posts.


Who are you referring to?


says wr

???


So it does! Somehow, my eye didn't parse "wr" as a name. Sorry!

Re: Avoiding recordings [Re: wr] #1919346
06/27/12 09:07 AM
06/27/12 09:07 AM
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Originally Posted by wr

But to me, the question is about how we want to approach learning specific pieces. Continuing with transportation analogies, finding out how music goes by using a recording of someone else's interpretation seems like riding a bike with training wheels - once you know how to ride, why would you continue to use that kind of crutch?
It's not a crutch as long as you think you can learn something from listening to the greatest pianists in the world play it.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 06/27/12 10:36 AM.
Re: Avoiding recordings [Re: FSO] #1919353
06/27/12 09:22 AM
06/27/12 09:22 AM
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Lets see...

If you go to a concert and listen to a pianist play a particular piece; or attend a master class and sit in the audience and listen to the master play that piece; or you actually play that piece for the master, and have the master correct/teach you using various methods that include him/her playing the piece (or phrase), any of those are ok.

But if you listen at home to a master pianist play that same piece on a CD or LP so that you can glean insights of how to play it better, that is not ok.

This:

Originally Posted by Pianoloverus
It's not a crutch as long as you think you can learn something from listening to the greatest pianist in the world.


Piano teacher.
Re: Avoiding recordings [Re: wr] #1919362
06/27/12 09:39 AM
06/27/12 09:39 AM
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Originally Posted by wr
Originally Posted by Exalted Wombat


Some pianists see the mission as expressing THEIR emotions, rather than attempting to convey the composer's.


Attempting to convey a composer's emotions is silly, unless you actually are the composer. All that anyone can do is convey their own emotions, as provoked by the score. Whether listeners are having some illusion that the pianist's emotions tally closely with the composer's, it is just that, an illusion.



I look at it like that "interpersonal communication" thing called "Active Listening," where one of the steps is to say back to the speaker what you heard him say, to make sure you heard correctly. Engaging a score in the learning stages is like that to me (in my imagination), where, as I play, I am asking the composer (in my imagination), "Is this what you are saying?," or, "Is this what you mean?" Eventually, I think I understand where the composer is going with the music (also an illusion, to be sure), and I go there with him (or for him (or her)).


I may not be fast,
but at least I'm slow.
Re: Avoiding recordings [Re: Exalted Wombat] #1919397
06/27/12 10:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Exalted Wombat
....Some pianists see the mission as expressing THEIR emotions, rather than attempting to convey the composer's.....

Yes, although more like desire rather than mission (maybe you meant basically the same thing), and a big part of what makes us interested to play music. And not "rather than," but also. And while this a key thing in this subject for some of us, it's not a necessary thing for my view; I think our most avid other advocate on it would be on the other side on this thing.

Quote
Every performance, bar the most elementary, goes a certain distance down this path of course. But when it's overdone, criticism is invited!

Sure, but IMO far more often it's underdone. I hear far more workaday 'interpretations' and dutiful renditions than overdone emotion.

Quote
Now and again we hear a concert pianist play something like "Minuet in G". And too often, they make a complete dog's dinner of it - they just can't cope with the simplicity. Maybe in bigger works thay could usefully look for the simplicity too?

I have a feeling I'd like the "dog's dinners" more than you do. grin
Not necessarily more than good simplicity, but probably better than workaday, dutiful simplicity.

Last edited by Mark_C; 06/27/12 02:34 PM.
Re: Avoiding recordings [Re: FSO] #1919424
06/27/12 11:24 AM
06/27/12 11:24 AM
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Lots of great points here. Let's look at it from a composer's perspective. The composer creates a piece by calling it from his/her imagination. They write notes on paper. They may learn said piece and post it on Youtube. I did this myself recently with my Toccata. The piece itself is a few decades old, but I've only recently arranged it for piano and learned it well enough to get through it without making total mincemeat of the piece (it's a tad difficult). So I posted my performance and also a computer rendering of the piece.

My own slow and lackluster performance was criticised on the composers forum. About all I accomplished was proving that an old guy with internediate technique could get through the piece. Then folks listened to the computer version and that garnered a much more positive response.

However, my intent was to interest others in learning the piece and I seem to have two good folks taking a look at it. I would hope that a capable human pianist with strong technique could bring things out of that piece that I didn't know was there. That's usually been the case with my pieces. In someone else's hands I hear things that surprise me and I placed every note with care.

To use recordings as part of the learning process? I think the answer lies with the intent of the student. If the student is a hobbyist seeking to learn the great repertoire but will never grace a major concert stage recordings can be useful in helping them understand what's typical. A professional pianist is responsible for being original, partly to show what they can do, partly to show what the composer has done. For them recordings should be no more than a reference point, something they use in conjunction with the score to develop their interpretation. The greatest pieces have planty of room for it. For example I find the differences between various recordings of the Liszt B minor Sonata or Bach's Goldberg Variations startling. That's a good thing. It seems Beethoven Sonatas can also be very different, but with them there also seems to be an orthodoxy with the most popular. Maybe that's not a good thing.

Last edited by Steve Chandler; 06/27/12 11:26 AM. Reason: typos
Re: Avoiding recordings [Re: wr] #1919460
06/27/12 12:07 PM
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Originally Posted by wr
Originally Posted by Danielsan
I've had a few occasions where a piece I was learning didn't have any existing recordings and it made it so much more difficult to get into it.


What you see as making it so much more difficult, I see as a pleasurable and interesting process that is building my chops as a musician. And like most chops, the more it is done, the better at it one becomes.


I can see why some would like it, but it's just not that interesting to me. I like playing pieces that I've composed myself or heard before. I tend to spend a lot of time listening to music and I usually start learning a piece when I'm listening to a piece and I like it so much that I just have to play it myself. Usually, when I learn a piece that I haven't heard before, I end up not being as moved by it. Although, there have been some occasions where the piece becomes one of my favorite. I guess I just don't have the best of luck with finding pieces that way.

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