Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Ten Cents a Dance

Dances, being practically nonexistent in contemporary culture, have become pedagogical traps.  Children are taught that a 3/4 time signature is a waltz.  That is all there is too it, according to that plan.

But minuets are in 3/4 time, as are mazurkas, and they ain't got nuttin' to do with waltzing, as there is no accentuated downbeat in either one.  Nor in a saraband, for that matter.

So what are we to do?  Maybe we should spend more time at the movies watching people dance who really know how to do it, whether in 3/4 or in some other meter.

There has to be room for bodily movement in between the beats, for exuberance, for drunkenness, for flirtation, for simple teasing.

Last night I played a selection of dances from various periods, old and new.  Not a dead beat in the bunch, and I mean within the dances themselves.  The composers: Clementi, Bach, Bartok, Gershwin, Tibor de Harsanyi, Debussy, Schubert.  No deadbeats there either!

This Business About the Piano in Your Child's Room

A student who completely agrees with me on this subject objected that, of course, most New York children do not have their own rooms and that, even if they did, there would probably not be room in them for a piano.  She suggested that while a child is playing the piano everyone else should go out for coffee.

Well....that beats sitting around listening, I suppose.  But the real issue is not simply privacy, but fluidity of access. 

I think it's important to remember that it's only since 1914 that pianos have been household furniture, associated with living rooms, certainly not with privacy.  It's important also to note that Chopin, famously a great pianist, did not play concerts in public, but for intimate audiences in intimate settings.