Friday, 30 January 2015

Meeting the demands

So some quick housekeeping. I have started working on Jordan's piece for horn, electronics and video and it is going to be a wild ride. So watch for posts, and video entries about that.


I was inspired to write this post in light of a conversation I saw on the facebook horn page about playing new music, and how it can be "damaging" to our chops. This is a multifaceted thing that I could pull apart but am really going to focus on one thing which was a great piece of advice I have had passed to me by two fantastic teachers, and that is about meeting the physical demands of music. This seems to be a topic that is always hammered (unfairly) onto new music but trust me it applies everywhere. So I want to break it down into a few parts, some new music specific, and the others just a nice warm blanket of good advice I received. We will start with that.

1) You need to adjust in the large scale to the playing demands you face.

Okay, sounds obvious but in practice it is overlooked a lot. Example, we get a piece maybe some wild new composition or a really delicate Mozart octet that hammers at your upper range leaving you to exist in a fourth for 30 minutes. You need to adapt your big picture to meet those demands. In this instance I would be spending more time daily addressing my low range and other playing that just isn't being met in the rest of the day. I like to think I have a pretty heavy morning of playing where I grind away at my fundamentals, knowing that there are days you just need to mix it up to allow yourself to make it to Sunday and a whole new week of challenges. 

2) Get past the technique and see the big picture

My teacher said a great thing to me (of many great things). "Sometimes you need to take a step back to see the blue sky". So in this context this idea applies to "getting stuck" technically. It could be a fluttertongue, some rapid hammertongue stuff, a complex string of timberal changes, microtonal melodies etc. Whatever it is the more you get on the phrase, or the big idea the more the positive physical and mental habits we build daily take over. If you get to "THE PAGE" and are like.. okay... only 36 high Ds left and a whole bunch of fluttered stopped pedal Es, You are about to have a really long day.
Also, at least this is something I always tell myself is that these challenges, things that seem illogical or dare I say unidiomatic (which I think is an synonym for awesome) are what keep audiences, and performers thinking. Also, I have never met a successful person who hates a challenge.

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