Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Computer Animator Meets the Scale

This morning a young adult student in preparation for sight-reading Clementi's F-sharp Minor Prelude (in the splendid collection Preludes and Exercises) was ambling through the F-sharp minor scale.  This young man has not been force-fed scales of any kind, and has a most accurate and astonishingly sensitive ear.  As he played the upward moving scale he went beyond one octave, then began to respond to its inner tensions by altering tones.  He did this entirely without plan unaware that his meanderings indicated profound auditory involvement in the mysteries of that scale, made even more poignant by the black/key - white/key half steps.

He makes his living as a computer animator so is well aware of the power of formula and of its opposite. 

Innocence and Inhibition

It must seem puzzling that with artistic maturity comes increased interest in the way small children hear.  I relish exposure to the full range of musical response young children bring to the simplest musical events.  They have no preconceived idea of how things go, they simply go.  And I am happy to go with them. 

We are led to believe that only complex structures are interesting, but I don't believe it.  Too much musical complexity has led too many musicians to technical mastery at the expense of comprehension.  I have recently heard technically brilliant performances of obviously ironic contemporary compositions which the musicians clearly did not get at all.

What are we losing in this era of readily-engineered flawlessness?