Saturday, February 1, 2014

Why, Though a Scholar, I am Not a Music Theorist

By calling myself a scholar I refer to my curiosity about connections of the music I play to more than my own experience, conditioned as it is by the era in which I live, the prejudices of my training, technical parameters, and so on.

I am interested in historical influences as implied or revealed in the music itself, rather than based on written records, which are often guesswork or simply woefully beside the point.

Similarly, the structural use of basic musical elements is paramount to my interest  I discern this on the basis of what I hear, not by virtue of analysis.  If my attention is not riveted at this level I simply do not play the piece; I prefer to mash potatoes.  But here I have to specify that by attention I mean not simply mental attentiveness but also that of the ear, the touch--in other words, by the physicality of the music.

It is that physicality that I seek to bring to life when I play.  It is not an argument; it is not subject to question on the spot: I simply want your attention to be held as mine is.

You are invited to go home and play the music for yourself to see whether or not you "agree" with my rendering of it on that particular occasion.