Friday, November 28, 2014

Its not Commercial Recordings: Now it's the Selfies

In the old days you had to have special, rather clumsy equipment to record anything: reel-to-reel, cassette recorder, you name it: It required an investment of cash and a real (pardon the pun)  commitment to tape, time, etc.

Now it is so easy it is almost impossible to not do it.  Memory chips, built-in mikes.  Push a button, voila. 

So now students are encouraged to record themselves.  Good idea?  Depends.

If all you hear when you listen back are the mistakes, then God help you.  This is doom and damnation.  If, however, you listen for specific attributes of the music or the playing that are not in the category of errors, then perhaps God will help you.  The idea is not to use the recording process as a freeze-dry, but rather as a warming up.

I used to listen to live performance tapes of my chamber group:  hours I spent, trying to figure out what had caused mostly intonation problems or forced, unconvincing playing. This involved listening as much to the dynamic of the composition itself as to the playing, as if the two could be separated one from the other.