Sunday, March 2, 2014

Front Page News: Visualization in the Olympics

Okay, it was the front page of the Sports section of the Sunday NYTimes of February 23, though there was a "heads-up" about the piece on the front page of the entire paper.

Apparently visualization is becoming increasingly important to athletes.  Why don't musicians follow suit and learn to use it?  The question is, naturally, what would a musician visualize?

The answer to that might best be illustrated by a real-life event that happened in my studio last week.  I was rehearsing the "Spring" Sonata of Beethoven with a violinist.  As a good deal of the mystery of musical line is contained in the implications of the slur markings, I spend a lot of energy in my Tonal Refraction process figuring out what difference it makes if the line behaves thus and so rather than so and thus.

So here was a measure-long line in the violin under a single slur which, for a violinist. indicates a single bow stroke.  Violinists famously maintain that Beethoven didn't know much about the violin and, on those grounds, freely change his indications to suit their own limitations.  Hearing an unwelcome break in the middle of the bar I called the violinist's attention to it.  Though he had not changed bowing, he had changed strings.  Turns out he could do it all on one string and in one bow stroke.  Huge difference!

Clearly I do not visualize the technical aspects of playing.  I visualize the intended result, which is what I think the notation indicates.