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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000336.txt from 2003/10

From: (Tony Pay)
Subj: Re: [kl] Who speaks?
Date: Sat, 11 Oct 2003 02:32:35 -0400

On Fri, 10 Oct 2003 17:51:24 -0700 (PDT), said:

> I wrote:
> > I wanted to hear other people's responses
> > [about the restraining one's own emotions
> > while performing] in a broader context.
> One reason why this question interests me is that some pieces of music
> have been deemed to deserve different treatments over the centuries.
> Such pieces of music did not, therefore, speak entirely for themselves.
> Performers (or arrangers or conductors or whoever) lent different
> flavors to them and, at the time, received a consensus of audience
> approval.

What pieces do you mean?

It's impossible to avoid that different people find different answers to
'what the music demands' for a given piece. Nevertheless, if the piece
of music is a good one -- and, obviously, if it is a bad piece, it's not
really worth discussing how you play it -- 'putting your own feelings
into it' is a superficial and misleading description of the process of
performing it.

> Music is, ultimately, interactive. I acknowledge that searching for
> 'what the music demands' can be important. Looking for a cha-cha in
> "Ride of the Valkyrie" would be silly; but putting ridiculous or comedy
> performances aside, I question whether a composition necessarily has a
> self-contained essence which a 'proper' performer (or audience) must
> never violate.

That wasn't what I said. 'Self-contained essence', 'proper', 'never
violate' are your words.

> It's a different situation, of course, if the goal is to perform a
> piece the way that you believe the composer intended.

Composer intention doesn't determine it. Any work of art has aspects
not consciously planned by its creator, because artistic activity is a
partly conscious, partly unconscious process.

The point is, if it's to be a performance *of that piece*, the emotional
aspects are appropriate to the performer's vision of the piece itself,
and are not arbitrarily injected.

It is of course possible for a great musician to give (slightly)
interesting performances of *any* old tat via such injection; but their
ability to do that will have had a lot to do with what they have learnt
from their participation in the deeper process, with better music.

> Returning to prayers and hymns, which is where this topic began, there
> is so much meaning in a prayer or hymn that (imo) does not come from
> the music itself. Hence "letting the music speak for itself' seems
> to me to be an especially dangerous assertion in this case.

I don't see what you mean by this. 'Dangerous'?

All of that meaning constitutes the context of the music. It may or may
not inform musical and emotional aspects of the music, but if it does,
it certainly isn't arbitrarily injected.

On the subject of prayers, I found Tony Blair's 'emotional' bible
reading at Princess Diana's funeral to be a striking example of the
'dangers' of *not* letting the text (in this case) speak for itself.

A slightly different way of looking at all of this is in:

_________ Tony Pay
|ony:-) 79 Southmoor Rd
| |ay Oxford OX2 6RE
tel/fax 01865 553339

... I entered this message just to use this tagline.

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