Sunday, September 30, 2012

Alberti Boredom

It does not escape my attention that the post that has had the most views since the inception of this blog over two years ago is on boredom.

It is perhaps my favorite topic, as I know it so well and have watched in astonishment as my own boredom has been completely reversed.  The things that most bored me as a young player--Alberti bass most prominent among them--I now find most singularly fascinating.

Clearly the difference is not revealed in the notation, which is the same for the bored as for the fascinated player.  The difference is in the ear/hand connection generated by the action of vibrations within that incredible box, the piano's case.

As each tone of the Alberti figure changes the note sustained above (or perhaps below) it is altered as if magically, from within its vibration field.  These successive alterations cause a seeming rise and fall of intensity in the sound as the intervals vary from consonant to dissonant.  The piano seems to come to life.

But fingers do not make this happen; rather they respond to the string activity.  Since that activity is entirely unpredictable the fingers move always as if for the very first time from one combination to the next.

Ah, yes! the foot!  I cannot omit the importance of a well-placed damper rail that lifts all the dampers ever so slightly off the string, not enough to sustain the full sound of any one key, but enough to permit the velvet admixture of strange with familiar vibrations.  My right foot, by allowing the strings to do their "thing," arouses a sense of wonder in my fingers as my ear hears every individual sound as if for the first time.

Playing this way makes me feel as if I am inventing the instrument, not repeating a piece.