Feeling the Music
As a Carnatic South Indian violinist, I know that the emotion and feel behind the piece is very important when performing, and I know that is the case with Western music as well.
I also teach and I know that many people can nail the technique, hit all the right notes, and get everything right, but sometimes it is quite robotic when they play.
What is the best way to transfer/achieve that feeling and emotion? (when teaching, how do you teach it to a student)? When does one achieve it? Also, how important is feeling the music (sometimes an artist may feel the music and get lost into it on stage, but may not be able to get the audience involved at all)? Please share your thoughts! Thank you!
My suggestion is to try things and see how your audiences respond. Then you will know not only that
I believe that applying "feeling" to a musical performance is a matter of learning the techniques that transmit that feeling.
We are a bit like actors who try to induce the feelings in the listener rather than necessarily feel them at the time. Except for those special moments when everything comes together...
There are different takes on this topic.
This is definitely one of the biggest challenges in teaching.
They are actually quite advanced in terms of technique and repertoire, but they sound very robotic
As Marc and other have already expressed, there is a big gap between
Can you be more specific about how advanced they are? Like perhaps a piece they're working on?
With really advanced students, it is quite possible that they've had a teacher(S) inject so much of their own feelings, that they can't find their own in the music anymore.
Lieschen, you mean they are traumatized by their emotional teacher(s) in the past? Based on your profile picture, I figure you are a soap-maker, yes? I made soap when I was feeling in need of emotional support too. And I play with a lot of feelings when waiting for a good batch to saponify ;)
It must come down to the desire and understanding to be an artist. If an accomplished pianist can stir emotions by pushing a bunch of keys....
No, not necessarily traumatized, but perhaps some students have had teachers who have wanted their students to sound just like them, inhibiting emotional expression. I am not a soap maker. I have never made soap. I just saw this soap at the supermarket and thought it looked pretty, so I snapped a picture.
With great music the feeling is endemic and shouldn't need to be consciously expressed by the player as long as she or he follows the composer's instructions. But in addition to that, remember that every note, every phrase and every movement have a beginning, a middle and an end.
I think it's about personal/emotional development - it's a rare young person who can do it.
I can't really offer good advice without knowing the situation of the specific student. Advancement, age, and disposition would be useful.
Sorry for the delay in response. I cannot talk about advancement, because the style of music is Carnatic South Indian music, so the pieces we play are quite different; however, I can say that they are good concert performers between the ages of 15-20.
Yixi, Marc, and Andrew
That chimes with my previous point. An actor doesn't "feel" the emotions of a character, neither does the audience. The one is transmitting an intellectualized emotion, while the others are experiencing and hopefully enjoying an imagined one. Who would want to participate (on either side of the curtain) if they actually "felt" that emotion? I believe the same applies to music where what is required isn't "feeling" but "musicality", whatever that means.
In the past I've performed the same music for weddings and for funerals/memorials. I play it with different emotions for each situation - but I have worked out the way to do that ahead of time: how to end phrases, how to subdivide certain beats, where & how to use portamento and how to use "expressive intonation."
I'd say it's a form of acting; if you are really good at it, you convince yourself. But the "feeling" is not the way in; good technique and a strong desire to communicate something pecific - that is the way in.
Yes, different styles of "acting" may be appropriate for different audiences and of course different music. I'm getting very fond of Franz Drdla's little salon pieces, that really respond to a little Viennese schmaltz. My favourite is "Ivresse" which starts in full bierkellar-song mode and ends with a snooze.
I too like Laurie's advice on communication is the key. Some players are emotional players, some are descriptive, some are academic... I don't care what approach one takes, as long as they can convey the cool stuff they have grasped. How? First, you have to have a clear idea what you want to "say", then do whatever in your power to get your point across. It is no difference whether you say something in music or in English, Italian, Hindi, Urdu, or what have you. It's a lot of work and feeling
There is a spectacular violinist who excels in putting both feeling and projection into his performances. He also has a spectacular flying stacatto in this rendition of the Wieniawski 2nd Violin Concerto in D Minor
I don't know, seems a lot of the violinist scrunching their faces makes me think they are trying to dramatizing the emotion. Not to mention it's ugly as all get out. Are they really feeling the music or are they just bad actors. I don't trust drama.
sorry about the double post but I thought of a good analogy:
"I don't know, seems a lot of the violinist scrunching their faces makes me think they are trying to dramatizing the emotion. Not to mention it's ugly as all get out. Are they really feeling the music or are they just bad actors. I don't trust drama."
"That's why there are dozens of the same painting, or what appears to be the same painting. They can look nice but every one is devoid of any feelings. Now go look at a Chagall, Goya, or Picasso. Now you're feeling! same with playing music."
No one has really been specific about transmitting emotional content in music. In WAM (Western Art Music), we utilize several techniques which, when combined, lead to a performance we call "musical."
Music is sound. We hear sound. Therefor transmitting the "feeling" of the music requires the performer to translate feeling into sound. People listen to recordings of music - transmission of the "feeling" (emotions) must be in the sound, in the music. Dancing and grimacing, smiling, whatever - has trouble making it through an audio recording.
Scott I agree with you totally. There are "elements of musicality" that one needs to learn. That's a language. Being able to speak the language with a convincing accent and in an idiomatic style is all about combining the elements in ways that have come to be accepted. Poetry comes afterward.
I think there must be interesting parallels between playing music in a way that conveys emotion and effective acting. It's probably a little disappointing to hear that one's own emotional understanding/feeling about the piece is insufficiently conveyed absent considerable technical skill--but then, we aren't all good actors either, even when we manage to understand a part.
Katie I agree, many are acting. Especially when they play the same routine over and over again. As an occasional performer( not on violin) I can say that no matter how I feel, I can momentarily put myself into the context of the music and actually feel it. Is this acting?
Scott, you are absolutely right in identifying the musical elements. For more on that, I recommend former Chicago Sym Orch principal bassoonist David McGill’s book Sound In Motion, which gives an excllent treatise on general elements of performance and how to plan a performance that communciates feelings. Flautist Mattieu Dufour (CSO & Berlin) is also brilliant at planning emotive performances of things as mundane as the Andersen etudes (my wife had a few lessons with him.)
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