Things I’ve been meaning to write more about that I’m blogging about in vague point form because I’m procrastinating.

September 10th, 2011 § 0 comments

Here are two ideas I’m working on.

1 – When I perform a new piece of music, culpability for my mistakes rests with the composer unless there is strong compelling evidence otherwise. A highway with well-designed signage and a smart physical layout makes it easy for travelers to get from A to B; if you have a clear idea of where you need to go and have ample advance warning along with the physical space to do so, then the civil engineers have done their job. Composers need to think about how they notate their ideas in a much more critical fashion than they currently do. Performance notation should give performers the best possible chance of creating the sounds a composer wants – this is distinct from compositional notation, which should be more about illustrating the ideas of the composer. Put it this way – if I’m adding extra lanes to a highway, a topographical survey is nice to have, but if I’m navigating the highway, do I really need kilometrage to two decimal places?

2 – I’m astonished by performers who complain about small score errors or lack of dynamics. As I play through Haydn’s piano trios, I laugh at the suppositions and errors that are fixed and forgiven. I also don’t hear the same standards of notational rigour applied to, say, Johnny Bach. 18th and 19th century performance practice is so ingrained in our training that we don’t think twice about these things. Couldn’t we at least extend a similar courtesy to the composers who represent us?

Do these ideas seem contradictory?

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