Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Where are we going?

Paavo Jarvi is great at signaling that the musical line needs direction. He would encourage us not to let the notes "get stuck." They must go somewhere, they can't just sit there. Call it energy, shape, or to use an old boring term, phrasing. In fact, isn't there a whole section in the Arban book dealing with that? Without this ingredient, music becomes just notes in time and space, a wonderful math problem to be contemplated, a treatise to be admired, a score to be studied. When given direction and style, the printed page becomes art.

Take a movement, a passage, an excerpt, or even just a phrase. What expression was intended? Where is the high point? When should there be vibrato or no vibrato? Can you show motion without changing the tempo? Can you imply a dynamic change without a big fluctuation in decibels? Do the dynamics highlight the phrase? What mood are you wanting to set, and what message are you sending, if any? Are you a computer or a flamboyant first violinist in a great string quartet? Are you matching the intention of the composer, or just trying to get all the notes? Are you involving your listeners? Are you just doing your job, or are you totally involved and loving every moment? And if not, can you convince your audience that you are?

After the nuts and bolts are in place, consider where you are going. Often the technical difficulties will take care of themselves when we aim at the target. The message is the music, not the notes.

1 comment:

sandye said...

phil,

great to find your blog! nice post...