Thursday, November 7, 2013

Mind and Body in Beethoven, Schumann, Mozart, and Everyone Else

So much time is wasted figuring out the simplest way to play piano repertoire: match the triplets to their quarters, for example.  What a colossal waste of time.  It becomes too easy.  Therefore, dull.

As soon as these simple multiples are examined in context, however, they more often than not come out totaling 21, 27, or 15--decidedly not duples.  In other words, if a triplet figure repeats seven times it produces 21 tones.  Why not play them in sevens, rather than in threes?

What happens is that the mind becomes engaged in a completely unpredictable manner, charging the enterprise with an energy that communicates to the listener as speed even though it may be metronomically slower than if played in predictable triplets.  The coordination of quarters against sevens entails split second timing, which is never lost on an audience.

As soon as mental agility steps into these otherwise self-evident, simple passages they become wondrously engaging.  Try it.