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 Re: The Cocktail Party Theory of Classical Music
Author: Tony Pay 2017
Date:   2005-07-14 21:25

Larryb:

I wrote that I wanted to describe:

"what I shall rather frivolously call, the 'Cocktail Party Theory' of classical music."

Perhaps I should have been less frivolous. What I was calling attention to is certainly not a theory, and certainly not about 'classical music' in its entirety. It's more of an analogy between speech and some sorts of music; and moreover, an analogy of a very basic sort.

The idea -- and though it's sometimes difficult to get across, it's not a particularly profound one -- is that many classical players today underestimate the power of their 'beginnings' -- namely, the precise details of how they begin notes and phrases when they play.

I think we lose something important when we begin our notes and phrases always quietly, and in the same way; and then base our expressivity on how we develop those notes and phrases, usually by making a crescendo.

The point of imagining the cocktail party is to characterise the difference between a group of players that play their notes and phrases in a 'beginning-oriented' (or spoken) way, and a group of players that play their notes and phrases always in a 'quiet-beginning-then-crescendo' way.

You can see from the cocktail part analogy why speech-syllables are beginning-oriented: it's because nobody would be able to hear anybody else -- or even themselves -- if speech-syllables worked in a 'quiet-beginning-then-crescendo' way. And it's a property both of speech and of our systems of perception.

Because speech-syllables are always beginning-oriented, it's clear that the cocktail party is not an appropriate model for a group of 'quiet-beginning-then-crescendo' players. It's also clear why playing in that 'quiet-beginning-then-crescendo' way diminishes the clarity of part-writing.

For players whose expressivity is based on crescendo, this is bad news. On the other hand, it's possible for them to recapture their expressivity by making their expressive crescendos follow the model of crescendos in speech, if they want.

It's interesting that you should mention jazz. Most jazz players and singers have no difficulty in playing and singing in a 'spoken' way. It's a part of their style.

It's also a part of our style -- but one many of us have forgotten about. We need to recapture a 'spoken' expressiveness for classical music.

Tony

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 Topics Author  Date
 The Cocktail Party Theory of Classical Music  new
Tony Pay 2005-07-07 22:26 
 Re: The Cocktail Party Theory of Classical Music  new
diz 2005-07-07 22:40 
 Re: The Cocktail Party Theory of Classical Music  new
Tony Pay 2005-07-08 21:14 
 Re: The Cocktail Party Theory of Classical Music  new
Tony Pay 2005-07-07 22:51 
 Re: The Cocktail Party Theory of Classical Music  new
ned 2005-07-07 22:57 
 Re: The Cocktail Party Theory of Classical Music  new
Liquorice 2005-07-07 23:03 
 Re: The Cocktail Party Theory of Classical Music  new
Tony Pay 2005-07-07 23:17 
 Re: The Cocktail Party Theory of Classical Music  new
diz 2005-07-14 01:27 
 Re: The Cocktail Party Theory of Classical Music  new
hans 2005-07-14 02:59 
 Re: The Cocktail Party Theory of Classical Music  new
3dogmom 2005-07-09 03:29 
 Re: The Cocktail Party Theory of Classical Music  new
diz 2005-07-14 05:20 
 Re: The Cocktail Party Theory of Classical Music  new
larryb 2005-07-14 11:53 
 Re: The Cocktail Party Theory of Classical Music  new
EEBaum 2005-07-14 17:49 
 Re: The Cocktail Party Theory of Classical Music  new
Tony Pay 2005-07-14 21:25 
 Re: The Cocktail Party Theory of Classical Music  new
Tony Pay 2005-07-14 22:43 
 Re: The Cocktail Party Theory of Classical Music  new
larryb 2005-07-15 00:05 
 Re: The Cocktail Party Theory of Classical Music  new
Tony Pay 2005-07-15 01:02 
 Re: The Cocktail Party Theory of Classical Music  new
Lelia Loban 2005-07-15 14:00 
 Re: The Cocktail Party Theory of Classical Music  new
Tony Pay 2005-07-15 17:08 
 Re: The Cocktail Party Theory of Classical Music  new
clarispark 2005-07-15 19:48 
 Re: The Cocktail Party Theory of Classical Music  new
Lelia Loban 2005-07-16 12:19 
 Re: The Cocktail Party Theory of Classical Music  new
Tony Pay 2005-07-16 12:31 
 Re: The Cocktail Party Theory of Classical Music  new
Lelia Loban 2005-07-16 23:52 
 Re: The Cocktail Party Theory of Classical Music  new
Tony Pay 2005-07-17 06:25 
 Re: The Cocktail Party Theory of Classical Music  new
Bob Phillips 2005-07-17 01:54 
 Re: The Cocktail Party Theory of Classical Music  new
Tony Pay 2005-07-18 13:01 
 Re: The Cocktail Party Theory of Classical Music  new
sdr 2005-07-19 13:41 


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