Emotions in performance - Does it really matter how the performer feel?

May 22, 2011 at 04:44 AM ·

This thread got me thinking - whether the emotions felt by the performer really matters. Not wanting to "pollute" that thread any further, I'm posing my questions here:

  1. When we extract emotional content from music as an audience, is it more from our own projection or the resonance to the performer's interpretation? 
  2. Would it be possible for a performer to be void of any sensitivity to emotions and understanding to the music, just as a pure intellectual and technical exercise, following the musical expression vocabulary on paper, and be able to move the audience?
  3. Can a skilled musician hate a piece vehemently and still deliver a lovely performance?

Hope I'm making sense...


[Edit] Sorry about the grammar in the topic and summary. It was getting late... Unfortunately I cannot edit them.

Replies (37)

May 22, 2011 at 07:16 AM ·

Years ago I was at a talk given by the English tenor, Wilfred Brown. He explained that one of his most successful performances, as judged by audience reaction, took place at the end of a concert that was running late. Worried about catching a train, he had sung with an eye on the clock, on autopilot.

Whilst a performer has to understand the emotional implications of whatever piece he/she plays in public, at the actual performance itself it's not necessary to actually re-experience the "birth agonies" - however in the case of a singer some apt "body language" and dramatic facial contortion is expected in addition to the music. If performers don't keep their cool at the performance, too much can go wrong.

If performers got too involved, maybe we'd all drop dead at the end of Verdi's Requiem.

May 22, 2011 at 12:05 PM ·

I find that if I'm feeling too emotional in the moment while I'm playing, I don't play very well.  That goes for nerves, of course, but it is also true of intense feelings of exhilaration, or poigniancy.  For example, when I get excited, or thrilled, about a piece, I tend to rush and lose rhythm.  To me it sounds exciting and I barely notice.  To the audience, not so much.  I've also been in situations where I was moved to tears while playing.  Then my tone tends to get uneven and overall too soft.  I might miss notes altogether.  Again, these gaps make perfect emotional sense to me at the time, but the audience isn't going to get it.

I think that ideally some time has to elapse between the first deep feelings one has for a piece and the performance.  You have to process the raw material of the feelings and turn them into something else that you can express with your hands.  Probably very skilled performers are able to do this processing very quickly, but I can only imagine that such a skill takes years of practice and performance.

May 22, 2011 at 12:23 PM ·

good questions:)

i am pretty sure that anyone reading this thread has by now experienced all of the emotions in this link

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_emotions

yet, i am not sure if  those people are capable of presenting or representing those emotions on the violin to the listeners accurately.  sadness and joy are probably not difficult, but disgust and trust may be tricky.  anticipation, surprise and fear may not be easily distinguishable among themselves.  

i am also pretty sure those composers have also experienced all those emotions but to translate them into music on paper must be a challenge.  it is impossible that all those emotions can be adequately structured with changes in tempo, pitch, volume, etc

so, how can a violinist play something that represents "trust" if not directly instructed by the composer?   the composer makes belief that he has done the best he can and later the violinist makes belief that he has understood the composer's intention?  make belief at best?

how about listening to whatever teachers suggest (and where did they get their ideas from? )

how about the violinist's own power of interpretation and imagination?  

and even if this "trust" emotion is to be played out, how do you do it physically on the violin?  will prior experience with "trust" really help a violinist's ability to convey it?

will the music of "trust" sound differently between the puppy's "trust"  to a kid and a kid's "trust" to his mom?

are you by now lost like i am? :)

isn't it true then that as musicians you do whatever you are capable of, or can think of, to share a music experience essentially based on your own doing, your own best effort, your own way of conveying whatever you think you are conveying? :)

 

May 22, 2011 at 04:03 PM ·

Whatever the musician does, I think it has to be done with absolute conviction to get it across to the audience. I've found myself completely convinced by performances that I later found to be a little flat. However, at that moment, the violinist was so persuasive that it was like she said, "This is how it is done, and there is no other way to do it." I think you have to be quite a great violinist to accomplish that, especially if the performance is flat.

 

May 22, 2011 at 04:34 PM ·

Whenever I have a student who is getting so carried away by the emotions of the moment that they risk ruining their own performance, I remind them of using a magnifying glass on a sunny day to set fire to things, and tell them "your job is to be the lens, not the fire."  In other words, focus the emotion and direct it, but don't become a victim of it.

This requires you to have some understanding, on your own terms, of the emotional content of the music, but simply standing on stage experiencing those emotions while you play doesn't mean the performance is going to be satisfying to anyone but yourself.

So to answer Joyce's questions:

1.  It's a combination of our own projection and resonating with the performer's interpretation.  I've been at concerts where (a) everyone was spellbound and caught up in the performance (lots of concerts); (b) I was spellbound but my friend was bored silly (Isaac Stern playing the Mendelssohn in Rochester in ~1984); (c) my friends were in tears over the beauty of it all and I was bored silly (Yo Yo Ma playing Elgar in Rochester in ~1985 --- beautifully executed but a total yawnfest for me). 

2.  I was about to type "no," but I think actually the answer may be yes --- keeping in mind that the question is "would it be possible," not "will it definitely happen."  My answer may change depending on if you meant "someone who has no understanding of what emotions are."

3.  Absolutely.  If you can summon up the personal maturity to respect what the composer wrote, and the fact that he was writing it honestly, then you can in effect say "Here is what the composer wrote, and this is my understanding of what he meant."  You don't have to love the piece, or even like it, to represent it well. 

That said, once you put effort into understanding a piece of music, the question of liking or disliking it tends to fade into the background pretty quickly.  No composer is trying to say with their piece, "I am stupid and boring, and I write stupid boring music."  If that's what you think they are saying, then you are refusing to look beyond your own superficial reaction, and the shallowness of your approach will be immediately evident to any discerning audience member.

May 22, 2011 at 05:49 PM ·

As Bruce said... emotions are good but they always need to be somehow controlled and at the service of music. 

If the music is fun... great!  But if you behave onstage as if you were at a party with friends on the 31 of December... many catastrophic mistakes can happen because you are self "drunk" on whatever hormones makes this (dopamin, serotonin?) and don't have your clear head. 

 

 

Without naming names, I have seen some soloists beeing really emotionnally "dominated" in some aggressive parts of some concertos.  I didn't particularly like the result.  They looked as if they were fighting a bear, the sound was scratched and forced, the faces they made were ugly... 

I prefer much emotion in a "tamed" physical expression and I can suppose, clear mind.  (perhaps like the old masters... or thise who still play that way) 

As a performer, I prefer a king/queen than a toreador ; ) 

May 22, 2011 at 06:04 PM ·

 In a perfect world, performers, whether actors, musicians, or anyone else, would feel passionately about what they were doing. However, any professional knows this simply does not happen. And what defines a professional is the ability to get up night after night and perform regardless of how one is feeling. That's probably why so many rock stars have to get blitzed before they can perform ("I have to do this cr@p again?"). Sometimes it's fun and sometimes it's not. But the show must go on.

May 22, 2011 at 06:55 PM ·

Any other one who's teacher is forever telling them that they have to practice tired, sick, on holidays, even if doesn't feel good?   ; )

 

May 22, 2011 at 10:24 PM ·

Perhaps it could be useful to consider how a stage actor deals with an emotionally and physically demanding situation such as playing the lead in a Shakespearean play for a long run (eg Lear, Hamlet), bearing in mind that each audience demands to be emotionally involved by the current performance and expects the cast to deliver. I think the actors do it by having complete control of all aspects of technique.  Lead opera singers of course come into the same category.

May 23, 2011 at 12:04 PM ·

I find that my most convincing performances happen when I am the least emotionally involved.  It takes physical control to convey any kind of message at all and emotions ruin that.  It's the audience's job to be emotional, not mine.  It's a common misconception that artists have to be emotional in order to ignite a response in the listener.  On the contrary we have to be calm as a cucumber, extremely disciplined and focused in order to do our jobs.

May 23, 2011 at 01:01 PM ·

Marina - thats very interesting and also maybe a little depressing.  The thought that the artist is a dispassionate machine and the audience provides the emotion.  Actually, I don't believe it - perhaps you are a very emotional and sensitive person and, hence, prone to over emote and thats why you have to tone it down.  Another performer may be too mechanical and have to do the opposite.

If there is no emotion in playing why do we listen to some artists more than others - because they are bland??

May 23, 2011 at 01:48 PM ·

 i am not surprised by what the pros are saying here.  it is not unlike a brain surgeon's involvement during surgery.  as much as he/she has a lot of empathy for the plight of the patient under the knife, he/she will probably perform the best if his own emotion involvement or attachment is under check.  it is not difficult to imagine why.  in medicine it is customary that  physicians do not take care of their own family members.  or a great violinist should probably find another great violinist to teach his kids.

think of that pilot that landed the plane in hudson river some time back.  how much emotion was he feeling?  going through protocol with absolute coolness or letting what ifs sip into his head...

i am not suggesting that amateurs are pointing fingers at the pros for not "giving it all".  the reality is that pros have a taxing schedule, time wise, physicality wise and mentality wise.  they need to pace themselves.  they cannot afford to run a marathon at a 100 meter dash pace.  they'd better not! :)

i remember the funny man mr bean giving an interview about his trade.  turns out he is an extremely cool, calculating perfectionist during preparation and presentation in order to take the audiences for a wild ride emotionally.  yup, he presents a facade but we are suckers for it.  art, may be?

until we get to the pro level, it is better we accept what works for them  and go from there.

meanwhile, as students and amateurs, if we claim we have a wonderful feeling or emotion out of playing something, great.  someone died and you play a piece with a new found feeling, great.  but it is not a cookie cutter that the pros are going to borrow.

 

May 23, 2011 at 01:59 PM ·

Elise, (just my humble opinion, not claiming I'm right)  we have favorite artists because they speak or mean something to us...  Beauty is in the ear of the beholder ; )   

I might like very much x artist and that artist may be hated by other persons who see no beauty in his/her playing. 

With time, we begin to know what exactly speaks to us.

Some will tell it's emotion, but one can also analyze this through technical apspects of what turns their ear "on" or "off"

I have seen that in masterclasses with Repin and Vengerov.  Great artists (who have good pedagogical skills to communicate their knowledge) can explain to the students any effects they do and how to convey an emotion using specific technical effects to create it on the violin.

I do not mean that there is no mystery or enigma but a lot less than if I was a non-musician listening to my favorite players (would thus think that violin is realxing, a ride in the park and the equivalent of eating chocolate cake on sunday afternoon for them ; ) 

But I feel that untamed emotion is more and more present in today's artists!  Ironically, why do some people refer to old masters (who showed less emotion onstage than nowadays) to hear ultimate expressive and soulful playing?  That might be controversial and I knows opinions are very divided on that but maybe it has to do with controled vs uncontroled emotion onstage???

Just my thoughs, not claiming to be right!

May 23, 2011 at 04:13 PM ·

in my opinion, the lens metaphor is lacking; the violinist is as much a human who is listening to herself/himself as others are to her or him. i think there is a difference between being a subject to the interaction between music and emotions and a victim (an extreme instance of being a subject). too extreme, this lens metaphor. i agree on the disagreement with being  detached and dispassionate. i think its a more complex interplay of emotion that you are subjected to and then using the emotion to direct the music using your knowledge and learned techniques .. a marriage of heart and mind if you will.but i'm hardly a pro, so i stand to be corrected.

if the heart gets the best of you and it outpaces your mind, its destructive

if the heart is elsewhere, well maybe the mind can fill in the gap some of the times but not all the time...

May 23, 2011 at 04:46 PM ·

Tammuz, very well said!  That's all about tamed emotions that can be positive!    What people are talking here (I'm pretty sure but could be wrong too) is not to deleate emotions if emotions there are on the players side but to be able to not get so dominated by them that loses control over the performance.  That beeing said, I only have limited student recital experience.  But, as most students,  I know what beeing emotion dominated feels like and the not always nice effects it has onstage... 

Violin has much similarities with all the other sportive/artistic disciplines: figure skating, ballet dancing etc.  A figure skater and ballet dancer.  Emotions as long as you can remain precise and not let them get in the way...


 

May 23, 2011 at 06:56 PM ·

Elise, depressing as it might be to you it's the truth.  Getting carried away with emotion is a very romantic idea, wouldn't it be lovely tto think that we musicians are nothing but a bundle of raw emotions exploding with passion at all times?  Actually those who are a bundle of emotions are hardly equipped with the nerves of steel that are necessary to succeed in this business and often fail as musicians. 

Emotion does not come across in performance just because you "feel" it.  We use technique to fabricate emotion such as crescendos and decrescendos, portamentos, rubato, rallentandos, etc.  These are all emotive devices.  We study a phrase and think about how we want to say it and then we practice it like an actor would (emphasize this note, de-emphasize the other, respond quickly to the oboe line, hesitate before the next sforzando, etc).  Once you master these technical tools the audience becomes puddy in your hands.  But don't think for a moment that Heifetz got carried away with emotions, it's laughable.

May 24, 2011 at 03:38 AM ·

Everybody is diffferent - including pros. Heifetz said in an interview that his emotions were "rather turbulent" most of the time when he performed. Milstein, in a filmed interview with Zuckerman said that he didn't get emotional, with the exception of a certain passage in the Beethoven concerto. "Nothing?" persisted Z. incredulously (implying that he, Z,. did get emotional while performing), "just fiddle?" "I'm not that type" said M. "Yes, you do!" insisted Z. M, to the production crew: "He's telling me what I am!" Said Z. "Well you won't; somebody has to!" M. laughed, shook Z.s hand and said "You are adorable!" It was very cute!

So yes, Heifetz, the great "stone face" was, in fact very emotional. But he didn't let his emotions run away with him, and he didn't wear them on his sleeve. There are times when I will get more emotional than others, and getting more emotional has never had a deleterious effect on my performance. But also different pieces have their own inherent emotions. If we don't get emotional performing - off the top of my head - the Bach Chaconne, Bloch Nigun, Chausson Poeme, something is wrong somewhere, although frequency of performance has its effect, too. I remember going on tour once with La Boheme for a month. At the end of the 1st performance I had quite a lump in my throat. A number of performances down the line I found myself thinking about how I wanted to get back to my hotel room and relax. But the emotion and commitment comes and goes in crests and dips over time in such circumstances.

The acting analogy is apt. But there are different schools of acting, including method acting. I don't believe that it's purely a matter of techinque, agogics, vibrato intensity, etc. I think that real emotion does come through, though it's hard to prove. I've never taken a poll after a solo performance to ask the audience if they sensed that I got emotional in a particular passage. That would be interesting! And what if I recorded two acceptable takes of something, but was more emotional in one than the other. If I listened to both a long time later, would I be sure which was which? I honestly don't know.

Speaking of recordings, as listeners we feel differently too at diffferent times. Take any recorrding. Whatever emotions the performer(s) felt or didn't feel, besides everything else, the record doesn't change; WE do, and respond differently to it at different times.

Yes, I think it is possible for a pro to give a good performance of a piece he hates or at least is tired of or indifferent to. Many fellow wedding veterans will sympathize with my mentioning the Ein Kline Nachtmusic or the Taco Bell - er Pachelbel - Canon!

May 24, 2011 at 08:11 AM ·

Marina wrote:  We study a phrase and think about how we want to say it and then we practice it like an actor would (emphasize this note, de-emphasize the other, respond quickly to the oboe line, hesitate before the next sforzando, etc).  Once you master these technical tools the audience becomes puddy in your hands.  But don't think for a moment that Heifetz got carried away with emotions, it's laughable.

So every time you play a piece it comes out the same?  Or maybe I should say that your satisfaction with the playing is really dependent on how it came out as planned, not as performed.  I can see that this might be essential for a group piece - for example, you don't want the second violin running off with emotions in a Borodin quartet - it might destroy the quartet sound.  However, I think it iS different for a soloist - the audience (me) is looking for a personal connection to the artist and that particular day's rendition.  For me its the difference between a great performance and a truly memorable one.  

Raphael: thanks for the terrific description of emotion and performance above,

May 24, 2011 at 12:08 PM ·

 raphael, nice post.  as you said, some people may react to a certain piece differently as a player.  and over time, some pieces are done to death so it almost becomes a joke, ie taco bell:)

but perhaps you can clarify further on your already excellent explanation.  you mentioned that some pieces played on certain occasion got you emotional, or affected you more than others, or touched you, or what have you. my question is that did you react to the music as you played or did you feel it "by design" ?  it sounded like you felt certain something because you could not help it, but i am not sure.

second question: whatever you felt, would you be able to recollect and pinpoint the exact nature of the emotion?  can you really put a label on a specific emotion, or is it a general, intense feeling?  i see now on this thread we use the word emotion rather broadly and loosely, as if we feel something we turn around and label such as emotion.  do you think it needs to be further defined and represented or leave it as such in a broad sense? 

third question: say you want to teach an advance student on the said piece that you felt strongly while performing it, do you really break it down line by line and label such with emotion stickers or do you let the student feel the whole piece and only hint or suggest? 

final question: is there a difference between the emotion that you want to project to the audience (called by the piece/mandated by teacher) and the emotion that you have felt while performing it?  i think there is, that the two are not necessarily the same every time, but would love to hear your take.

 

May 24, 2011 at 12:08 PM ·

No, it's not the same every time.  But it's a different variation of the tools used to make it emotive.  Once you learn how to master those emotive tools you can use them interchangeably.  A live performance is organic and there are lots of variables a performer has to respond to. Not that I have mastered these tools, it's a learning process but I have gotten better over time.  This does not mean that I do not have emotions or passion, quite the contrary.  I just don't let those emotions guide my performance because they make me anxious and my hands shake and I lose focus.  If it's in me it will shine through and be brought forth by good technique and focused concentration.

May 24, 2011 at 12:14 PM ·

I see Marina - and I detect some excellent advice.  Master the technical aspects of the piece and you can play it, rather than it playing you.  If you excuse me being prosaic...

May 24, 2011 at 12:42 PM ·

Elise - thanks. Al - thanks, and some good questions. To try to answer-

1. As far as feeling by design, no. Certain pieces, and certain passages within certain pieces tend to often get to me in certain ways. As I type this, an example is coming to mind near the end of the violin solo in Ein Heledenleiben. It's more than an A flat sforzando, and I hope that the audience would feel that. That leads us to

2. A composer will ofren try to give the performer as good an idea as he can about the feeling he's trying to convey. There's always the all-purpose "expressivo" (expressively). Sometimes "cantabile" (song-like). Once in a great while "sospirando" (sighing). Beethoven, wrote in one of his quartets "beklempt" (opressed)! But no matter how specific a composer tries to be, these are only signposts to give some idea, and subject to a wide lattitude of interpretation. Emotions can't be labled beyond a certain point, and then we can get into the vexed question of program music. But to take a couple of clear examples - I think that both performers and audiences would feel a world of difference between the Chausson "Poeme" and the opening of the 1st or 8th Beethoven violin sonata. To me, the Chausson is much more than say "sad". It is an elegy of a lost soul struggling in its own purgatory of unresovlved regrets and anxieties, and only at the very last chord does it seem to find a measure of peace. I must say, just writing that, I felt some emotion. Yet it's still the intonation here, dynamics there, bow distribution, etc. It's the parts AND the whole.

3. I might try to convey that sort of thing to the right student at the right time. But I'd be happier if the student conveyed that to me with original words, and more importantly, by the actual playing. Again, emotions can't be quantified too much in words. Once Elmar Oliveira gave a master class. There was a passionate passage the the student wasn't getting. Elmar demonstrated with great intensity and said "apassionata means appasionata". The point was well-taken by all. Mendelssohn once said that it's not that music is too vague for words, but rather, too precise. Aaron Copland was once asked what he was trying to convey in his music. He said "If I could tell you in words, I wouldn't need to compose music!"

4. As far as a difference between the emotion that I'm feeling and the emotion that I wish to project to the audience - not usually. There can always be extra-musical personal factors affecting how I feel. But as far as the music as such, not typically.

May 24, 2011 at 01:31 PM ·

thanks raphael for articulating a post that is full of emotion and thoughtfulness. 

May 24, 2011 at 09:33 PM ·

You're very welcome, Al! Now I think I'll work on a new blog on some further auction experiences. So long to all for a little while...

May 25, 2011 at 04:39 PM ·

I'm not a pro -- not by a long shot.  But when I'm in a performance where I'm doing well, I'm not really conscious of my emotions, even though they are there.  It's a very right-brained thing.  Time seems to fly, and I'm "in the bubble."

During those times, if I get aware of my own emotions, it's mainly that it feels good to be doing a good job.  I am emotional about the music, but I'm so focused on the job at hand that the emotions flow as a natural byproduct, rather than being deeply felt, as when I'm critically listening to music.

I liken it to shooting skeet or drawing or woodturning.  Vastly fun, but the left brain is disengaged for a while, while the creative bit turns loose.  Or you could think of it as the inner game of music. 

 

May 25, 2011 at 07:36 PM ·

Hi,

My own thoughts on this subject... I have devoted a lot of time to this both as a performer and as a teacher sitting across the table judging exams/competition/etc..  I think that in the end, what carries is the intention.  You see, a selfish enjoyment of emotion on the part of the performer doesn't carry or convince.  One who is involved and projecting the emotion of the music going out to the listener is more likely to be convincing.  So, I think that the intention in the end is what carries.  I have noticed that the public picks-up on that though most people are not aware of it. But, incredibly, it comes back in the comments one hears, though some people can't articulate it.

Just my personal observations from a host of experiences in the last few years from all side of this question.

Cheers!

May 26, 2011 at 12:11 AM ·

 yes, a performer can perform without emotion, it with still be good because they are professional but only good. an amazing performance combines skill with true feeling of a piece. joshua bell just goes crazy so i will not use him as an example. look at these 2 videos then tell me which one was better. the emotion is what makes music music.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SFQqqC0I_GI

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uql9IV5M_j8&lc=wa9gDsPl5QnzBdxhgfUvUkLc_IKIeQTPvIhXvevFMEs&feature=inbox

May 26, 2011 at 12:31 AM ·

Stephen I took your test and if you want my opinion: both are good, both have their colors

BTW, I tried to shut my eyes for the most part to not be distracted.  (The player in your first video expresses more her emotions physically than the player in your second link.  It's very easy to fall under player's A charm because player B is less expressive physically and can look somehow "serious".  But what we see and what we hear are two different things)

With shut eyes, I can hear a very raw emotion in the first video.  Wonderful

With eyes shut, the emotion in the second performance is maybe more subtile but it is really there.  Only, it's not delivered the same way. But I still hear it and it's a great performance.

 

It's like telling a joke normally and telling a joke tongue in cheak.  Which one is the funniest?  Both have their colors.  And fans for both styles. 

Interesting though : )

Thanks for that idea!

Anne-Marie

May 26, 2011 at 12:34 AM ·

 no problem. i agree, but i love the first one soo much more. i even commented on the sencond (im nycroxmysocks) i personally felt that he put no or little emotion into the piece. to me i was bored

May 26, 2011 at 02:41 PM ·

fun game...

i also pick anne's version. more characterful playing and she has a nicer tone in my opinion, his sometimes sounds weaker than hers, more wirey or feeble for some reason. she has the guts to bite, he just continues playing. from the very opening of the solo, she builds up the drama beautifully, he suddently speeds up and makes it a forte (or is it mf?). and listen to how she starts of her trill and builds it up, very suitable. his is just a trill executed.

 also i prefer the orchestra's playing with her, i don't know who the conductor is but its really a very compatible sweet flow of sounds and dynamics. and i must say i love the oboe playing.

not to diss schmidt's playing which is very good and professional. but really its not about his being more  subtle and hers more overt, in my opinion......, i find her playing more subtle because she maneuvers through the music (i dont mean physically) whereas his playing is less variegated, is more immobile (also not literaly) like he's playing from above it. isotropic is the word in space and chemistry, no?. well my opinion at least.

thanks, nice example, in its place

May 26, 2011 at 03:02 PM ·

I didn't mean subtle as refined here...   Definitivly Anne Akiko Meyer paid more attention to this. 

I meant raw emotion vs more "hidden' emotion that is not as easy to hear...  (but still, it's there) In my case subtle = more hidden, indirectly

Maybe that's because I'm a frenchie and sometimes badly translates words! 

 

May 26, 2011 at 03:47 PM ·

You can tell the violinist in Video #1 is more musical, by watching the eyebrows.  The eyebrows in #2 hardly do anything --- therefore, there is clearly no emotional involvement there.  DUHHHH.

 

Seriously though, those are both beautiful performances.  I wouldn't say either one is lacking anything.

May 26, 2011 at 11:50 PM ·

Many of the posts here imply that there is a fixed emotional content to any given piece of music.  Really?  One piece that comes to mind is the Adagietto from Mahler's Fifth.  Currently, it's often used as an elegy or for mourning, probably second only to the Barber Adagio for Strings.  Or, please make it stop, Amazing Grace on a set of bagpipes.  Yet, when Mahler wrote the Adagietto and sent it to Alma Schindler, she immediately (and correctly) interpreted it as a marriage proposal.

Likewise, Meditation from Thais, which started this conversation, is (far too often, in my opinion) played at funerals.  In the opera it accompanies a woman's deliberation over whether to live a life of religious devotion or carnal pleasure.

In any given performance, one audience member will find a piece deeply felt and touching, while the person in the next seat will find it maudlin to the point of hilarity.  Meanwhile, the performer is thinking, "Is there a place to get dinner in this godforsaken town?"

May 27, 2011 at 01:33 AM ·

Lisa very true : )  Again another proof that beauty is in the ear of the beholder! 

May 27, 2011 at 05:50 AM ·

 If you dont feel anyhting whats the point in playing music. 

 

None.

 

nuff said

May 27, 2011 at 07:01 AM ·

is it necessary that a edicated academic doctoral researcher be "emotional" about his work?  

in the sense that he's emotionally one with the material, not necessary. in the sense that his pursuit is rooted in the turf of intellectual satisfaction which illicits positive emotions and some that might even border on the, or just be, negative, then yes.

to go back to the example given here (slthough i am not a huge fan of samuel barber music but there are things in this piece that i liked), not about the concurrent emoting of meyer's performance but hthe music itself as its being interperated. it shows someone who involved themselves in linking the notes and phrases in a way that boosts the sentiment and sentimentality of the piece, that makes it into a drama. this is also not to say that she will be able to do that with all other pieces; i was watching her spiegel  im spiegel, and i didn't like her sound in that piece...in my opinion, she didnt touch the frosty heart of that Part piece along with her pianist accompaniment, you can't try to make that into honey, in my opinion. so, gist is its not the performer that illicts emotions but the resonant symbiosis of the  world (emotional and intellectual) of the performer with the possible emotional-intellectual worlds alluded to by  the musical score.

so, music, for those who want it that way, is not just about being played and delivered a learned way....for the caring listener. there are so many ways of playing a piece, crafting your way of playing is also entering a composed world of emotions..whether you as a person are detached or not. i guess, the word emotional is tricky here...how about "caring"? there is allowance for  a caring listener and a caring performer.

lastly, sorry if i bored you :o)

 

May 27, 2011 at 02:24 PM ·

Tammuz, I remember having heard one of the top class olympic divers tell that his friend from China (top one diver of the world) was forced into the business just because he was talented.  Yet, it didn't stop him from beeing no 1 diver in the world.  

It's also a cultural thing.  I'm not into forcing people into specific careers but in many country that is what they just did... my boy/or girl, you're good in x thing so you will become x thing that's not an option... 

Of course, I can imagine that terrible stories occured from that: depression, suicide etc (but that we never heard of...)

But I'm still convinced that some of the world's top acheivers came from such "places" where they were forced into a business against their will.  (that would show that in some cases, people were able to perform something at a very high level with no true passion for it, perhaps no "special" or "fun" emotion related to it) 

Not saying that I'm for that though!


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