Saturday, 21 February 2015

The importance of the phrase in complex music.

So I keep kicking the can down the street here holding off on a video post about the new piece I am working on. SO! On with another kick, on the plus this punt was in fact inspired by the new work.

So, imagine if you would getting a new shiny piece of music, something with no recording so there you are finding things outs from the beginning. This just happens to be one of my favorite situations, it's a rare treat to find, or get a piece that you have no preconceived idea of how it is going to go. This could be Mozart, Bach, or anything, face it, it's exciting and a chance to really flex those interpertational muscles. I think this is something I have written about before... maybe... if not here is my quick 101.

  • Everything you know is contextual. That being said if you are looking at Beethoven 3 you should come at it from his earlier string and piano music, and his first two symphonies. This is something I believe, we have performance tradition, and performance practices and they are different things. The best performances capture the composer not the period, what I mean by that is when we look at Mozart we tend to do so as a figure in time that somehow transcends an era of music and not the actual linear output of his work. 

  • Make decisions, and know why. For me saying well so and so does it this way so I am, is not a real answer, it's uninformed and parroting. If you like something someone does and you can dissect and understand why they made that decision and in turn you yourself agree with that, then power to you.

  • Always think big picture, and try to figure out how everything relates, Find internal consistencies. Internal consistencies is a phrase I use a great deal, because I think it is a big thing, especially with music from the new complexity and things that are not as intuitive to the western ear of music. 

  • If you don't understand it, the audience never will. This is another big things that I learned, it was focused on form for me. The lesson was if you play a Sonata, or a piece in any form. If you have not made the formal decisions and taken time to understand it there will be no way to convey it. 
I realize these are not "unique" to new music, and for all purposes for myself I found these strategies in music from the standard canon. The challenge that appears in more complex music, especially for music that falls further outside the standard canon is that we get can get in a highly technical mindset and need to actively step back and see the big picture beyond the technical demands.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

A lesson learned from none standard notation.

Whenever I get a piece of new music there is always the initial "shock" of notation. Over the years I have become less phased by it but there is always a period where you have to sit down and really look over the part and digest what is going on. What are the techniques, what are the effects/affects, where are the internal consistencies, etc. At the same time there is this instant focus to what is the architecture of the piece, or my part with in the score (which I want to get ASAP, to see how I interact). With the score we are looking at pitch relationships (microtonal etc, should that be unison?) am I emulating other instrumental effects (remember that internal consistency I just mentioned) for example am I trying to create the illusion of over-pressured bowing on the horn, or should it sound different. With new music these are decisions we have to make really quick since if we don't we will never get past step one of the process.

This leads me back to my post title, a lesson learned. Is this kind of process something I undertake when I receive any other more "conventional" or "idiomatic" piece. Should I? Should I do it more? All of those are questions I am reevaluating, I have my process when I get a new work, get a score, get the part, etc. But maybe I have been missing an opportunity to dig deeper into it,