Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Your Life Does Depend On It

Teaching Schumann's Scheherezade this morning to an adult amateur brought up in the British graded system of piano training -  beats, beats, beats - who is very aware of the danger of music becoming, in her word, ploddy:

I learn how to read from students like her.  Sustaining interest in this piece is a challenge because of its constant moving eighth notes.  Isolating the top and bottom voices revealed the underlying counterpoint inside of which those eighth notes make real sense instead of driving the work relentlessly forward -- remember that in this case forward is to quicker decapitation.

There is a beautiful right hand slur in which a half note E tied to an eighth note literally slides off onto other pitches.  These are not "real" pitches, but the result of an inability to sustain the high E, which is an altogether different proposition.

Not everything that looks like a rise does actually lead up; the same, naturally, applies to down.