Sunday, August 3, 2014

In Tune As a Function of LIstening

If the purpose of being in tune is to sound good with others, then the secret to being in tune must have to do with listening.

This, I fear, is the lost art.  Like the well-intentioned singers I mentioned in yesterday's post, too many musicians are schooled to read without listening.  I did it myself for many years before a great teacher caught me at it and made me stop that pernicious habit.

As soon as you listen to the sounds of your fellow players you are more likely to play in tune with them, particularly if you respect the differences between your instruments and decide to go with the flow, which is determined usually by the least flexible of the instruments.

I say "usually" because flexibility is also in the ear of the player.  There is a common belief that the piano is inflexible.  I couldn't disagree more wholeheartedly.  The overtones of the piano are so complex, and the control available via finger and pedal so subtle that I can play so as to block or not block resonance with almost any other instrument.  This is the art I practice and which I find never-endingly fascinating.