Are You a Slave to the Score?

Classical Guitar technique: studies, scales, arpeggios, theory
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IV Laws governing the quotation/citation of music


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Rognvald
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Re: Are You a Slave to the Score?

Post by Rognvald » Sat Dec 09, 2017 9:35 pm

I think a valid consideration is whether it was a piece written exclusively for the CG(CG Classics) or whether it is a transcription from piano, violin, lute, cello, etc. One should be especially careful rewriting voicings on the former since they are almost sacrosanct however, I think anything goes, on the latter, since you are playing a musical transcription and the author's ideas of voicing, fingerings may not work for you and perhaps, yours are even better. In any case, I still believe the end justifies the means, for me, and there is nothing shameful in a moving, lyrical performance---even if it has been altered. Playing again . . . Rognvald
"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

Wuuthrad
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Re: Are You a Slave to the Score?

Post by Wuuthrad » Sun Dec 17, 2017 9:52 am

:smorfia: :ouioui: :ouioui: :smorfia: This is a silly question, really as the plain truth is:

The Score is my slave! As is the trees that made it, and those that made my guitar.

For it is my will that bends it to my needs and makes it mine...

And when it isn't, I turn the page, or crumple it and toss it in the rubbish bin, with the rest of the garbage...
"Music before all else, and for that choose the irregular,
which is vaguer and melts better into the air."

Paul Verlaine

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Lawler
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Re: Are You a Slave to the Score?

Post by Lawler » Sun Dec 17, 2017 10:36 am

Fretful wrote:
Wed Dec 06, 2017 1:01 am
...the answer depends entirely on your allegiances. This is further complicated by the fact that if your allegiances are to the paying public, you have no way of knowing what it is exactly that the public actually wants from you. Horowitz is an excellent case in point. I heard him at the RFH (playing his own Steinway) and, to this day, I couldn’t care less how strict or respectful he was to the manuscripts, and I can remember with incredible clarity and vividness the absolute magic with which he bent the keyboard to his will, producing sounds of a fluidity I had not heard before and have not heard since. However, strangely, I find some other brilliant contemporary pianists almost intolerable. Funnily enough, this morning, at around 4:30 am, some guitarists were playing and drinking and chatting, and one of them referred to Segovia as a player who could be quite “crass” (!). Well, I understand what was meant, but when I look back to some of Segovia’s concerts, I have that same Proustian feeling of an experience which, although irretrievably lost, is still present with breath-taking immediacy and enriches my perception of the treasured possibilities offered by a good guitar ; but there is no question that, whenever I went to see him, I heard Segovia, the whole Segovia, and nothing but Segovia ; Scarlatti, I never heard ; Bach, I never heard. Or do I say this only because I have a preconceived idea of what Bach and Scarlatti should sound like ? Yes! But that concept was different in the 1920’s, and it will be different again in the 2020’s. So, we are back to allegiances ; when I play Bach to myself, I play him as I jolly well like, and if I feel like sounding too fruity of a morning, that’s what I’ll do, and I’ll enjoy it! However, if I were to play Bach to a public who have paid good money to hear Bach, then I’ll consider - partly through scholarship, partly through accepted critical analysis of the epoch - what their expectations might be, or to put it crassly, what it is they are paying for ; a tricky question, because how do I know whether they have come to hear Bach or whether they have come to hear me, or whether they have brought a child along to show it how Bach should be played on the guitar. Perhaps there is in all this a bit of a misnomer, though, when one talks of “interpreters” ; the verb “interpret” is too prone to interpretations, I think we are “expressers”, and how much we express is partly a matter of good taste, and that would have to include an audience’s good taste which, some would argue, is nowadays as elusive as Hamlet’s proverbial honest man who, allegedly, would only be one man picked out of ten thousand! Ultimately, whatever you do (provided you are a serious professional [which I happen to know you are]) some will like it and some will like it NOT! ... “To thine own self be true, thou canst not then be false to any man”. The rest is silence ... or noise ... take your pick.
What a great post.


Also:
Like you, I love Horowitz' playing. His interview with Mike Wallace in the 70s in my mind at the moment.

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Lawler
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Re: Are You a Slave to the Score?

Post by Lawler » Sun Dec 17, 2017 10:59 am

Rognvald wrote:
Mon Dec 04, 2017 11:49 pm
In the New York Times... the great classical pianist Vladimir Horowitz... once said... "The music is behind those dots. You search for it... "
I've never known a musician who disagreed with that.

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Contreras
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Re: Are You a Slave to the Score?

Post by Contreras » Sun Dec 17, 2017 11:46 am

Great thread ... it really stimulated much in the way of thoughtful response. I have been berated on this forum before for saying that composers dynamics might be suggestions rather than orders ... I am sticking to my guns and saying that whenever I play something it is, in the very nature of things, my interpretation.
I refuse to be a slave to the score ... to me it is no more than a useful aid. Without exception, I am familiar with a piece before I see the score, and the score 'just' helps me get it under my fingers.
I don't play for money, so although I do play for others, I do not feel bound to try to fulfill any expectations they may have about how things should be played. They can play CDs for that. So long as they enjoy it, I'm fine.
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Re: Are You a Slave to the Score?

Post by pogmoor » Sun Dec 17, 2017 12:26 pm

It's at the back of mind that it was Stravinsky who voiced the view that the score was sacrosanct and that before his time the idea that the score merely suggested how the music might be played was more prevalent. Perhaps someone who is a better music historian than I am might comment?
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rinneby
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Re: Are You a Slave to the Score?

Post by rinneby » Sun Dec 17, 2017 12:41 pm

I always learn by heart. But then again, I'm not a professional guitarist.

/Jon
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Stephen Kenyon
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Re: Are You a Slave to the Score?

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Sun Dec 17, 2017 12:57 pm

pogmoor wrote:
Sun Dec 17, 2017 12:26 pm
It's at the back of mind that it was Stravinsky who voiced the view that the score was sacrosanct and that before his time the idea that the score merely suggested how the music might be played was more prevalent. Perhaps someone who is a better music historian than I am might comment?
I would suggest that the degree to which a composer or interpreter might wish to try to literally stick to the score's instructions, has been a matter of debate and wide variety of practice since music started being written down. But as a generality, earlier musics (Renaissance, Baroque) would normally be, and have been then, considered relatively fair game for intervention, though even in Classical and Romantic contexts you would also find plenty of instances of people radically changing the score if they saw fit. This does not mean it was a good idea to do so, one point there being the question of whether something being done was also a measure of it being worth doing.
Re Stravinsky, I would want to ask whether he was actually talking more about his own compositions, in which, along with many later scores, the details do get very important.
As per my previous post, please feel free to go ahead and change what the composer wrote - if you think you a better musician than they are. Or if for some perfectly sound reason, it simply doesn't matter, like, nobody cares what you are doing, or you are experimenting, or somesuch.
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Jeffrey Armbruster
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Re: Are You a Slave to the Score?

Post by Jeffrey Armbruster » Sun Dec 17, 2017 3:44 pm

I think that the question is framed in a misleading way. We are all tied to the score in the sense that the music that comes from it wouldn't exist without it. But really we're in a dialogue with the score, right from the beginning, and throughout. We're learning the piece--and like all good learners we listen above all else, especially at the start. And it's a privilege to listen and learn from the composers we admire. This is hardly equivalent to slavish behavior. Do I impose my musical notions on a piece by Bach in the name of personal freedom? Viva la Huelga? Again, these aren't really the terms under which music is achieved. It's a false question.
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Rognvald
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Re: Are You a Slave to the Score?

Post by Rognvald » Sun Dec 17, 2017 5:55 pm

There have been some very thoughtful recent posts to this subject and I am happy to believe there are many in our Forum who do not look at the performance of music as a mechanistic exercise. In Richard Wagner's excellent treatise: "Wagner on Conducting," published by the Dover Press(highly recommended) he writes in 1887: " I have not yet met with a German Capellmeister . . .who, be it with good or bad voice, can really sing a melody. These people look upon music as a singularly abstract sort of thing, an amalgam of grammar, arithmetic, and digital gymnastics;--to be an adept in which may fit a man for a mastership at a conservatory or a musical gymnasium; but it does not follow from this that he will be able to put life and soul into a musical performance." p. 19, "Wagner on Conducting." Isn't this really the whole gist of this discussion? When we perform music, is it this mechanistic approach about which Wagner disdains or is it as Contrearas and Wuuthrad so clearly define with the artist's personal stamp on the performance? When Fretful remarks about the reason a person attends a concert he states: " However, if I were to play Bach to a public who have paid good money to hear Bach, then I’ll consider - partly through scholarship, partly through accepted critical analysis of the epoch - what their expectations might be, or to put it crassly, what it is they are paying for ; a tricky question, because how do I know whether they have come to hear Bach or whether they have come to hear me, or whether they have brought a child along to show it how Bach should be played on the guitar," I sense a somewhat unclear, yet utilitarian approach to music where the expectations of the audience outweigh the artistic vision of the performer. For me, musical performance expresses the deepest essence of who we are as human beings. It projects to your audience a lifetime of YOUR human experience compressed into the unlimited boundaries of the composition. Playing again . . . Rognvald
"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

Alan Green
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Re: Are You a Slave to the Score?

Post by Alan Green » Sun Dec 17, 2017 7:03 pm

The score is the starting point. Very little exists on the printed page that cannot be interpreted in a different way. If the audience claps at the end then it's worked. If you like it better the way you interpret the score, job done.

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Re: Are You a Slave to the Score?

Post by Jeffrey Armbruster » Sun Dec 17, 2017 8:25 pm

I suppose that there's also the danger of making a composition the slave of one's personal interpretation. My guess is that listening to performances where there's too much of the personality of the performer in the music, so that the latter is overwhelmed, is as much a problem as hearing pieces played by the numbers. Actually, Bream critiques a student in one of his master classes (on you tube) for doing precisely this in his rendition of Bach.

Still, it's true that too strict attention to tempo markings or time signatures, etc. can stifle a piece.
Last edited by Jeffrey Armbruster on Mon Dec 18, 2017 1:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
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davekear
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Re: Are You a Slave to the Score?

Post by davekear » Sun Dec 17, 2017 9:10 pm

Here's a guy who ain't slave to nothin. Here's a rare video of Ted Greene teaching baroque improvisation.
For those of you who don't know Ted Greene, here's a treat. Probably the best teacher I ever had.
R.I.P. Ted.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zkuo2384ZN4

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slidika
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Re: Are You a Slave to the Score?

Post by slidika » Tue Dec 19, 2017 6:23 pm

I really understand the point about technical effort versus music. My brother, my sister and I all attended a high school with a large student body (there were 590 people in my graduating class, in 1971 and approximately 2400 total students). My brother was the second chair violinist in the orchestra, due to practice and lessons from a Japanese violinist. The first chair violinist (initials LB) later went on later in life to win international competitions with his violin playing. However, the sad (to me) part about that was, LB was known as a very good technical player . . . not as a musician.
Whenever I am not ready for my music lesson, I call it 'facing the music'.

Rognvald
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Re: Are You a Slave to the Score?

Post by Rognvald » Tue Dec 19, 2017 8:54 pm

davekear wrote:
Sun Dec 17, 2017 9:10 pm
Here's a guy who ain't slave to nothin. Here's a rare video of Ted Greene teaching baroque improvisation.
For those of you who don't know Ted Greene, here's a treat. Probably the best teacher I ever had.
R.I.P. Ted.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zkuo2384ZN4
Dave,
I just watched the video. The important aspect of the video, for me, was that like all good musicians, Ted understands music from a theoretical basis and uses this knowledge to enhance his playing. I've always been puzzled how some players reach a fairly high level of technical performance and do not understand what they are playing. When you have the ability to get into the composers head, so to speak, it gives you the ability to become more intimate with the music and render a more authentic interpretation of his work. Does Ted strictly play electric or does he also play CG? Playing again . . . Rognvald
"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

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