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One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star. -Nietzsche

  June 29, 2016

Artistic Considerations

Artistic considerations matter So you want to be an artist? Or a performer? Or to appreciate expression as more than amusement that fills free time?

You will need to hone your sense of the subtle, specifically why one choice is made over another. This selection is what distinguishes a composer as genius when demonstrated time and time again, tastefully writing a perfect passage while his peers choose a less ambitious and less satisfying approach, falling back to musically coherent custom instead of crafting a masterpiece. This sense determines an artist's fate. The rote are forgotten in their lifetime, or the night of their concerts, while the greats live on timelessly over centuries.

When you only have notes and no words to indicate meaning, you must be sufficiently expressive to tell stories, just as painters offer a contemplative scene encompassing multiple aspects of an idea without dialogue and other guidance. An instrumental performer must understand the nuances of the work being performed so they know as a natural part of expression where to breathe, pause, accent, hold, or shift tempo when those are necessarily part of the composer's flow though not indicated in the manuscript. Are you sensitive enough to feel this so you can do better than mechanically reproducing notes?

Performing a piece requires the same detail as reading a poem. A poem isn't merely a recitation of words or vocal qualities of the reader, but must be presented with rhythm, pace, and touch appropriate to its content. You must not mishandle a package being delivered.

The performances you listen to contain essential details. Every measure is full of interpretive choices. A solo artist infuses the piece into his organic being, capturing delicate features he has noticed and showcasing them while coloring his understanding of the whole. An orchestral conductor is a field general of a dozen sections, guiding their balance and interplay.

Getting this wrong means creating a dull or confused presentation at odds with the composer's intent; just a bunch of notes played at once without meaning, not really getting anywhere because of jumbled communication. To get it right is to create divinity on earth for a moment, undeniable to those who experienced it.


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