Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Yesterday afternoon saw the naming of a new aesthetic approach: schmush and smear. Take any Classical period work which relies for its wit on the clear articulation of rhythmic elements, play the piece like an interminable run-on sentence and--voila! schmush and smear.

Admittedly it takes time to put in an occasional comma or period. But what's the rush?

Perhaps the rush is the result of the boredom inherent in schmush and smear.

Thanks to the nine-year-old whose beaming smile at the contrast proved that there is something to it.
Soft and loud in music might be compared to transparent and opaque--I think of watercolor vs. oil paint. Mozart specified dynamics very clearly. It's not that a musical idea was to be played softly; it was soft. Soft was part of its essence.

The subject came up today in the Prelude to Schumann's Kleine Fuge in The Album for the Young. The sonorities seem to invite upbeat playing, yet the designation piano indicates that something more subtle is going on. The forte coming later is not prepared by a crescendo, as one might expect, but by a diminuendo! Lots to think about.