Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Ear as the Basis for Reading Music

The analytical shortcuts to efficient sight-reading include chord identification, metric fingering patterns, strong downbeats to organize the sound.

Any one of these has the power to obscure if not destroy the music being read.  I know, because I read that way for decades until a wise teacher informed me that I was missing the point and made me unlearn that senseless way of sight-reading.

Chord identification:  Mozart's G Major Piano Sonata does not open with a G major upbeat, but with a delicious B minor ambiguity.  Similarly, many Schubert Waltzes, simple in terms of chord progressions, become miracles of black and white key doublings when the sound takes precedence over what looks like the harmonic function of the chords.

Metric fingering patterns: A run of six consecutive rising sixteenth notes is just that no matter where it starts or stops in relation to quarter note beats.  How much music is rendered positively static when the fingering is based on clarifying the quarter note beat at all costs, as in Mozart's C Major Sonata, K. 545.

Strong downbeats: Clearly among the deadliest of devices they obscure hemiolas and other metric witticisms and make a mockery of ...  the list is long, and where to start it? .....