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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000341.txt from 2003/10

From: (Ormondtoby Montoya)
Subj: Re: [kl] Who speaks?
Date: Sat, 11 Oct 2003 12:11:38 -0400

Tony Pay wrote:

> It's impossible to avoid that different people
> find different answers to 'what the music
> demands' for a given piece. Nevertheless
> [snip about 'bad' music] 'putting your own
> feelings into it' is a superficial and misleading
> description of the process of performing it.

This is precisely my point. If different people find different
answers, then each of them *is* putting something of him/herself into
the music.

I don't see anything bad about this. A performance wherein the
performer doesn't intentionally put something of him/herself into the
music is an oxymoron, as far I can see. Music **is** an interaction
between composer, player, and audience (if any).

I propose that what we are really discussing is: How far should the
player go? and who decides this question? I've already given the
example of playing 'Ride of the Valkyrie' as a cha-cha. This is
obviously going too far because note values and meter have been altered,
notes probably inserted, and the resultant alteration of 'mood' would be
gross indeed.... except.... even in this case, the result might be 'good
music' that would get people's toes tapping without dishonoring the

Other examples: How about ornamentation? Or cadenzas? If some
intrinsic quality of a composition demanded a particular interpretation,
then ornamentation would not have varied over the centuries, and every
cadenza would be identical (which is an another oxymoron, of course).

> 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.

Perhaps this is the fulcrum of the debate --- namely, it's a matter of
degree. When does an accent or articulation or crescendo or whatever
become arbitrary? I have no dispute when a performer wants to convey
the composer's intent. But it does grate on me when someone insists
that a player *must* do so. That isn't the purpose of music, imo.
Music is interaction --- even if the composer isn't there in person.
In fact, I can't avoid imagining that composers would play their own
music differently depending on their moods on any particular day.

Your phrase "the performer's vision of the piece itself" is key.
Players cannot possibly eliminate themselves from the equation. My own
feeling is that any piece of music (the written music itself, not a
performance thereof) would be trivialized if players attempted to do so.
Perhaps we are stumbling over semantics and matters of degree. I have
a difficult time imagining that you, as a performer, want to deny your
own musicality or to disappear completely.

I wrote:

> 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. =A0 Hence
> "letting the music speak for itself' seems to
> me to be an especially dangerous assertion in
> this case.

You replied:

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

I intend to reply to this, but my daughter has to be (of all places) at
a music rehearsal in 40 minutes, and I need to get into motion.

Until later, and thank you for your replies.

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