Thursday, November 4, 2010

What a big difference there is between reading music with a theoretical bias and listening to it as it leaps off the piano. Yesterday a ten-year-old was sight-reading a Bartok piece from For Children, Vol.II: a piece I know well and love dearly. As she fumbled her way through it, making her own logical sense of its chromatics I realized that I have missed a great deal of the piece's inner sense which, in her fumbling, she had stumbled upon.

I read G# as a necessary element in A minor and G-natural as signalling a change to C major; her errors often confused the black-key version of G with the white-key. After listening to her reading, which made its own perfect sense, I realized that the piece's drama depends upon the alteration of its three black keys at unexpected times into their corresponding naturals. It is the surprise in each case that conveys the message.

When I read it there is no surprise but simply a right note or a key shift--both rather boring in comparison. Her wrong notes were more insightful than my right ones.

There will be a three day break from posts as I will be attending a conference. Back on Monday to report on it.