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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000572.txt from 2000/09

From: (William Wright)
Subj: RE: [kl] being expressive in Italian
Date: Tue, 19 Sep 2000 11:29:37 -0400

<><><> Bill Wright wrote:
If you want the player to be expressive, how do you mean? Solemn?
Lamenting? Joyous? Energetic? Downright hyper? Near to suicide?
Experiencing nirvana?

<><> Tony=A0Pay wrote:
As an aside, I myself have the habit of reading the word 'espressivo' as
though it has a question mark attached. I also recommend this way of
reading the instruction to my students. It then means, roughly: what is
this bit expressive *of*? In the personal register? And you find your
answer by a process of experimentation.

This returns us to the question of music vs. language. Are the two
sufficiently connected that a composer can (or should) say more than:
"Think about this, it's a special passage" ?
Does verbal language -- more than just 'allegro' or 'con brio' --
belong in music (without lyrics)? Should I restrict my language to the
title? Perhaps it's proper to title my song "Bill's Lament, an Angry
March in G minor", but it's not proper to put above the key signature
"Largo march, filled with lament and anger"?
I have not forgotten a sentence from one of your (Tony Pay's)
posts: "I don't think in words when I'm playing."
Obviously music and language share a common basis to some extent.
They both can be received as air vibrations through the ear, and their
interpretation begins and often uses feedback from identical parts of
our nervous system, and the interpretation can be (is best when it is?)
influenced by context and by what we observe of the speaker/player's
body movements.
But does the connection go deeper? (Think for a moment about this
word 'deeper'? Why do I use a physical dimension to describe a
thought?) I can imagine that some musicians would complain: "Don't
clutter my mind with words while I'm playing!" But I've spoken often
enough about the view proposed in Descartes' Error that I don't need to
repeat it again -- except to say that (imo and ymmv) we think and act,
as well as communicate and experience emotion, with our physical senses,
not with some isolated island of our intellect.

Here is where my lack of music education rears its unwelcome head.
I play as a pastime, albeit often with intense pleasure, not as a career
musician and not as a totally dedicated student who devotes 4-6 hours
each day to his studies. So I haven't driven to the university, paid my
$5 parking fee, trudged across the campus, and pored over dozens of full
If I had done so, I would have a better idea how other musicians
answer this question; but I'm fairly certain that I would still have my
own conviction that music *is* a language and 'espressivo' by itself is
not what I want to read, nor what I would write myself -- no more than I
would write (except as a character's dialogue): "Emily was very, very
in love".

So.... maybe I'm not a true musician?

Cheers and thanks for talking,

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