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#1703090 - 06/27/11 04:21 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: PaulaPiano34]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19346
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: chobeethaninov

What I mean is not a "sloppy" performance but rather something like what NeliOS was describing.

Originally Posted By: NeilOS

This idea of spontaneity is very interesting. I think I know what you mean. It's a certain excitement, that the performer has a devil-may-care, throw caution to the wind attitude. I think this is very good acting; it's what a great performance should be.
But he seems to say it's just acting. Perhaps he can explain more about what he means about this, and if I am interpreting what he says correctly.

To me, most performers are just more intense and involved during a performance than in, for example, a rehearsal. While watching the concerto rehearsals for the Tchaikovsky, I was amazed at how the performers seemed to play the most difficult passages with seemingly no effort. But in the actual performances, which started today, they looked far more intense and this is what made the actual performances more exciting.

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#1703095 - 06/27/11 04:30 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: kevinb]
stores Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6646
Loc: Here, as opposed to there
Originally Posted By: kevinb
Originally Posted By: stores
Originally Posted By: kevinb
Originally Posted By: stores
Secondly, there is no "uh-oh", because simply walking on stage, or entering the hall, without yet sitting down to the keyboard said person with extended life experiences brings with them a greater palette from which to draw.


The problem here is that I don't have the faintest idea what this drawing with a 'greater palette' means. I know what it means with respect to painting or photography, but as to how that concept transfers to musical performance, I truly have no idea.

I'm not suggest for a moment that the concept is meaningless, but I do believe it's an esoteric statement -- one that does not translate easily into aspects of musical performance that are actually observable.




Good Lord. Never mind.


OK, so you don't actually have a defensible response. Fair enough.



I simply meant that one has a greater palette of emotions (derived through experience). I didn't think I'd have to draw any pictures.
_________________________

"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

♪ ≠ $


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#1703106 - 06/27/11 04:52 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: kevinb]
Pogorelich. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 4528
Loc: in the past
Originally Posted By: kevinb
Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.
What more evidence do people need other than sheer experince? Not to mention what you hear in a performance...


These are the sorts of statements that people tend to make when they don't actually have any basis for a proper argument.

Anything that is as obvious as you want to suggest should be describable in terms of common-sense language. If it isn't, why might that be?


I'm going to go with I'm foreign and can't find the words smile when something is that obvious to us, and it's internal, it can be hard to describe.
_________________________

'I want to invest my emotions only in music; it will never disappoint me or hurt me - it is a safe place to be.'

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#1703119 - 06/27/11 05:08 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: pianoloverus]
NeilOS Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/13/06
Posts: 617
Loc: Los Angeles
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: chobeethaninov

What I mean is not a "sloppy" performance but rather something like what NeliOS was describing.

Originally Posted By: NeilOS

This idea of spontaneity is very interesting. I think I know what you mean. It's a certain excitement, that the performer has a devil-may-care, throw caution to the wind attitude. I think this is very good acting; it's what a great performance should be.
But he seems to say it's just acting. Perhaps he can explain more about what he means about this, and if I am interpreting what he says correctly.

To me, most performers are just more intense and involved during a performance than in, for example, a rehearsal. While watching the concerto rehearsals for the Tchaikovsky, I was amazed at how the performers seemed to play the most difficult passages with seemingly no effort. But in the actual performances, which started today, they looked far more intense and this is what made the actual performances more exciting.


Well, I didn't say just acting. I have a high regard for actors who can make me believe and feel something. But, yes, the word acting can seem to imply something superficial. I mean it in the sense that a performance is something practiced, well-thought out and presented with the idea of following a certain plan. There is another ingredient, the audience, that often adds the spice that I think is the essence of what we're talking about, that ineffable thing that happens in a performance that some call spontaneity. In a rehearsal with soloist and orchestra, different things are taking place, attention to balance, tempos, ensemble. The soloist is undoubtedly paying attention to those things and noticing how the conductor responds to him. The soloist then has to decide how much trust he has in the conductor, the orchestra, the particular situation. When it all comes together it can be really exhilarating.
_________________________
Concert Pianist, University Professor, Private Teacher in Los Angeles
Blog: http://www.pianoteacherlosangeles.com/

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#1703123 - 06/27/11 05:12 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: kevinb]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7844
Originally Posted By: kevinb
Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: kevinb
Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.
Generally speaking, the more life experience a performer has, the wider the range and depth and nuance of emotion they will have experienced, and therefore can bring to performing. I think this is a case in which "more" really is "better".

I really wanted to highlight that, because I think it's 100% true. (quoted wr here)


It would be useful to attempt to apply some empiricism to claims like this. That's not to say that I don't think they're true, but rather that I don't see what _information_ we have for thinking they are -- other than a kind of inner conviction.

I think that, as muscians, we all want it to be true that our own deep experiences will inform our musicianship, and that listeners will be able to respond to that. And -- slightly tangentially -- I guess those of us who are middle-aged want to believe that our musicianship will just continue to improve, despite our declining faculties.

If anybody has any actual evidence, or reasoning, to support claims of this sort, I'd love to hear about it.



To me, it is really rather odd to suggest that there could be any sort of empirical measurement of this stuff. Or, if there were, why it would matter.

If you think I'm wrong to feel that way, why not provide some examples of what would be measured and a methodology for the measurement, that would give you what you are looking for.



I don't know why it _matters_, except to the extent that propagating an ill-founded belief from one generation to the next might generally be considered a Bad Thing. In this case, it's unlikely to have much impact on world peace or the price of eggs, so perhaps it's not worth worrying about...



Why is this idea "ill-founded"? It seems perfectly well-founded in people's own experience, to me.

Quote:



And yet...

It just bothers me when people make statements that purport to be factual claims that are, really, no more than value jugements. I don't know why -- it's the scientist in me, I guess.



I have no idea why you say this stuff is not factual, but a value judgement. Or why the factual-ness of it would even be an issue. Are emotions factual? Is your life as you experience it just a myth?

Quote:


The extent to which subtle emotion can be communicated by music is something that can be studied and, to some extent, has been. So far as I know, the research suggests that it's possible to play a piece of music in such a way that the listener can get 'happy', 'sad', 'angry', etc., but nothing much more subtle than that. Interestingly, musicians seem to be no better than non-musicians at receiving what performers think they are sending.



Sounds to me like those studies failed, which isn't the fault of the music. At any rate, AFAIC, the question isn't about whether extremely specific emotions are conveyed, but about the emotional richness and depth of the playing, which may get translated in different ways by different listeners.

Quote:



Incidentally, there's a good general overview of these issues in Rosen's 'Music and Sentiment'.

As a general matter, I think it's a big mistake to claim that, because something is hard to study empirically, we might as well treat it as mystical or esoteric. There's an awful lot of mystical talk in this area of musicianship.



I think that mystical talk in this area is perfectly appropriate - it isn't science, it's art.

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#1703134 - 06/27/11 05:33 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: Steve Chandler]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7844
Originally Posted By: Steve Chandler
I'm going to throw out an idea that may seem a bit counterintuitive. As a father of two (son 21, daughter 16) it seems to me that young people are especially adept at making mountains out of molehills. It's the lack of life experience that can make each emotional event a major drama. As we get older and grayer we've experienced major moments (marriages, divorces, births, deaths) and the little ones don't impact us as much. It would seem to me that an older player may very well play with less emotion and would seek to bring out musical details rather than play for the emotion with dramatic dynamics and plenty of rubato. Does that make sense?


It does make sense. But I think what may happen, too, is that an older performer may know how to modulate the intensity of their playing and interpretation with more refinement and finesse than they did when young, which isn't really the same as there being less of it.

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#1703146 - 06/27/11 05:49 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: Pogorelich.]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7844
Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.
What more evidence do people need other than sheer experince? Not to mention what you hear in a performance...


That's pretty much the way I feel, too.

To me, there's something vaguely ridiculous about attempting to get all "scientific" about these things, when, for hundreds of years, music has gotten along just fine without it. Which is not to say that there shouldn't be serious scientific investigation of it - it's just that trying to substitute some kind of shakily fabricated and incomplete "objective" point of view for what many of us know through experience seems silly. It may be that at some time in the future, it will be possible to describe all this in a much more scientifically-based way, but I don't think we are even remotely close to it right now.

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#1703164 - 06/27/11 06:19 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: liszt85]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7844
Originally Posted By: liszt85
Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.
What more evidence do people need other than sheer experince? Not to mention what you hear in a performance...


The problem is people like Keith (and many others) made exactly the opposite judgment about GG's recordings from yours.



Why is that a problem? I don't think that two people having different preferences about those recordings has any bearing on the issue. Why shouldn't someone have a preference for youthful energy over mature wisdom (to reduce it very crudely)?

Quote:


I don't think that was necessarily because one of you is a superior musician. So I don't think what you suggest here really throws any light on the issue. What's evident to me in a performance isn't to you and vice versa. I am obviously not as good a pianist as you are but I do have a good head on my shoulders and have listened to enough music and a wide range of music, so my musical experience that way might be comparable to yours. So what is it that makes you perceive something in a performance that I might not (and vice versa)? Most likely Social and Psychological factors in a major part. Musical training differences might only be a small part of the explanation (so I don't dispute the fact that you might hear more nuances than I do for instance in pieces that you've studied but those that I haven't..the question though is are those nuances a direct result of the emotions experienced by the musician or is it simply good technique and a good understanding of the piece rather than an acute emotional experience of it by the performer? I know you and stores think it is the former that weighs heavily, some others think its the latter that outweighs the former by a good deal and I belong to that camp..none of this is currently verifiable of course. Sheer experience isn't evidence precisely because of the Psychological factors and other confounds people have mentioned in this thread and elsewhere).


Experience is the only evidence needed for the person who has had the experience.

Whether experiences are shared is a whole different area, and since one has no way of directly plugging into another person's perception of their own experience, there is really no "evidence" available. If I say that my experience is such-and-such, that's about all the evidence about it you or anyone else is going to get (unless I am artistically gifted enough to put it into some other form).

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#1703171 - 06/27/11 06:33 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: wr]
liszt85 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/26/08
Posts: 3159
Originally Posted By: wr

Originally Posted By: liszt85
Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.
What more evidence do people need other than sheer experince? Not to mention what you hear in a performance...

The problem is people like Keith (and many others) made exactly the opposite judgment about GG's recordings from yours.


Why is that a problem? I don't think that two people having different preferences about those recordings has any bearing on the issue. Why shouldn't someone have a preference for youthful energy over mature wisdom (to reduce it very crudely)?



People have different subjective experiences. As you suggest, that has absolutely no bearing on the issue and that was my point as well. In that post, the suggestion seemed to be that "You can hear it in the performance", and the only evidence you need is "experience". I thought Pogo meant "it" in an objective sense. If not, I misunderstood.


Edited by liszt85 (06/27/11 06:33 PM)
_________________________
Current:
Beethoven: Sonata Op.31, No.2 ("Tempest")
Debussy: Danseuses de Delphes (Prelude 1, Book 1)
Next in line:
Chopin: Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Op.23
Debussy: Le vent dans la plaine (Prelude 3, Book 1)
Debussy: Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir (Prelude 4, Book 1)

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#1703288 - 06/27/11 10:49 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: NeilOS]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7844
Originally Posted By: NeilOS


I remember an interview I heard with the great Shakespearean actor Laurence Olivier, who said that he couldn't actually be Hamlet eight times a week because the emotional range would kill him. He had to develop a technique to make the audience believe he was Hamlet. My view as a performer is similar to his. In performance we can't really go to those extreme emotional places or we would lose control of all else. The art of performing is about control, so that the listener has the emotional experience that we performers have imagined.



That approach is true for some, but don't you think that some performers actually do try to somehow be in the emotional moment in a direct way when they perform, rather than "acting" it? It's a bit like contrasting the English style of acting technique with the Method style.

I think I remember that Busoni was of the "acting" school of piano performance. But I think that Arrau was just the opposite, and thought the performer needed to live through the experience when performing. I hope I am remembering this right; I'm not completely sure, but I think the gist is correct.

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#1703310 - 06/27/11 11:52 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: wr]
liszt85 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/26/08
Posts: 3159
Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: NeilOS


I remember an interview I heard with the great Shakespearean actor Laurence Olivier, who said that he couldn't actually be Hamlet eight times a week because the emotional range would kill him. He had to develop a technique to make the audience believe he was Hamlet. My view as a performer is similar to his. In performance we can't really go to those extreme emotional places or we would lose control of all else. The art of performing is about control, so that the listener has the emotional experience that we performers have imagined.



That approach is true for some, but don't you think that some performers actually do try to somehow be in the emotional moment in a direct way when they perform, rather than "acting" it? It's a bit like contrasting the English style of acting technique with the Method style.

I think I remember that Busoni was of the "acting" school of piano performance. But I think that Arrau was just the opposite, and thought the performer needed to live through the experience when performing. I hope I am remembering this right; I'm not completely sure, but I think the gist is correct.




So does this mean that the Busoni school did not believe in having to experience an emotion in its full acute detail to be able to deliver an "authentic" performance? I don't fully understand what you mean by the "acting school of piano performance" if it does not mean what I just stated..
_________________________
Current:
Beethoven: Sonata Op.31, No.2 ("Tempest")
Debussy: Danseuses de Delphes (Prelude 1, Book 1)
Next in line:
Chopin: Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Op.23
Debussy: Le vent dans la plaine (Prelude 3, Book 1)
Debussy: Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir (Prelude 4, Book 1)

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#1703341 - 06/28/11 01:02 AM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: wr]
NeilOS Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/13/06
Posts: 617
Loc: Los Angeles
Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: NeilOS


I remember an interview I heard with the great Shakespearean actor Laurence Olivier, who said that he couldn't actually be Hamlet eight times a week because the emotional range would kill him. He had to develop a technique to make the audience believe he was Hamlet. My view as a performer is similar to his. In performance we can't really go to those extreme emotional places or we would lose control of all else. The art of performing is about control, so that the listener has the emotional experience that we performers have imagined.



That approach is true for some, but don't you think that some performers actually do try to somehow be in the emotional moment in a direct way when they perform, rather than "acting" it? It's a bit like contrasting the English style of acting technique with the Method style.

I think I remember that Busoni was of the "acting" school of piano performance. But I think that Arrau was just the opposite, and thought the performer needed to live through the experience when performing. I hope I am remembering this right; I'm not completely sure, but I think the gist is correct.



i suspect just about everything has been tried and many different approaches work. In the final analysis, though, the objective is for the audience to have an experience, however that is achieved.

I think in the "method" school of acting the actor calls upon real emotions, but they are reproduced technically rather as a memory, but not really experiencing them explosively. But this is not my area. If someone is really experiencing an emotional meltdown, it seems to me they would be hard pressed to remember someone else's lines and the director's blocking?
_________________________
Concert Pianist, University Professor, Private Teacher in Los Angeles
Blog: http://www.pianoteacherlosangeles.com/

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#1703352 - 06/28/11 01:31 AM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: NeilOS]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7844
Originally Posted By: NeilOS
Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: NeilOS


I remember an interview I heard with the great Shakespearean actor Laurence Olivier, who said that he couldn't actually be Hamlet eight times a week because the emotional range would kill him. He had to develop a technique to make the audience believe he was Hamlet. My view as a performer is similar to his. In performance we can't really go to those extreme emotional places or we would lose control of all else. The art of performing is about control, so that the listener has the emotional experience that we performers have imagined.



That approach is true for some, but don't you think that some performers actually do try to somehow be in the emotional moment in a direct way when they perform, rather than "acting" it? It's a bit like contrasting the English style of acting technique with the Method style.

I think I remember that Busoni was of the "acting" school of piano performance. But I think that Arrau was just the opposite, and thought the performer needed to live through the experience when performing. I hope I am remembering this right; I'm not completely sure, but I think the gist is correct.



i suspect just about everything has been tried and many different approaches work. In the final analysis, though, the objective is for the audience to have an experience, however that is achieved.

I think in the "method" school of acting the actor calls upon real emotions, but they are reproduced technically rather as a memory, but not really experiencing them explosively. But this is not my area. If someone is really experiencing an emotional meltdown, it seems to me they would be hard pressed to remember someone else's lines and the director's blocking?


Well, yes, obviously the Method actor has to maintain some level of control over what is happening and not give free rein to their emotions. Otherwise, all sorts of untoward things would happen. I'm not well-versed in it (and I think those who are knowledgeable on it aren't all in agreement about what it is, exactly, either), but I think the general idea is to make the emotional aspect of acting as close to "real" as possible, and as much drawn form the actor's own experience as possible, as opposed to the style that approaches it as impersonal and "external" effect produced by technique.

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#1703372 - 06/28/11 02:17 AM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: liszt85]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7844
Originally Posted By: liszt85
Originally Posted By: wr



That approach is true for some, but don't you think that some performers actually do try to somehow be in the emotional moment in a direct way when they perform, rather than "acting" it? It's a bit like contrasting the English style of acting technique with the Method style.

I think I remember that Busoni was of the "acting" school of piano performance. But I think that Arrau was just the opposite, and thought the performer needed to live through the experience when performing. I hope I am remembering this right; I'm not completely sure, but I think the gist is correct.




So does this mean that the Busoni school did not believe in having to experience an emotion in its full acute detail to be able to deliver an "authentic" performance? I don't fully understand what you mean by the "acting school of piano performance" if it does not mean what I just stated..


I think what Busoni was saying was that at the moment of performance it was not desirable for the emotional aspect of the music to be experienced as direct emotion by the performer in the way it is by the audience. But this doesn't mean the performer should not have an emotional experience of the music at some time earlier and incorporate their understanding of that experience into their interpretation, during preparation for performance.

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#1703407 - 06/28/11 05:13 AM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: wr]
kevinb Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
Originally Posted By: wr

I think that mystical talk in this area is perfectly appropriate - it isn't science, it's art.


Well, in the end, that's the root of our disagreement, is it not? I don't think the kind of discussion in this thread requires, or benefits from mystical talk. We aren't talking about religious or transcendental experiences here. In fact, I would go further and say that I believe that very often people who do use this kind of expression are doing so -- perhaps unconsciously -- in an attempt justify something that want to believe is true, but have no rational grounds for thinking really is true.

I would expect that reasonably intelligent people of about the same age and roughly the same social background, with all their faculties, and a shared interest in art music, _should_ be able to back up their arguments between one another with some non-esoteric argument, using ordinary words with ordinary dictionary meanings.

And yet, on this thread, nobody has.

And that leaves me (and I guess the other doubters) trying to determine whether people who make claims about the importance of life experience in piano performance

a. Genuinely cannot express their views to people who do not have the same esoteric vocabulary, or
b. Are using esoteric language to mask the fact that they don't actually have any reason for believing as they do.

I'd like to think it was (a). I fear it might be (b).

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#1703411 - 06/28/11 05:24 AM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: liszt85]
kevinb Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
Originally Posted By: liszt85
Originally Posted By: kevinb
Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.
What more evidence do people need other than sheer experince? Not to mention what you hear in a performance...


These are the sorts of statements that people tend to make when they don't actually have any basis for a proper argument.

Anything that is as obvious as you want to suggest should be describable in terms of common-sense language. If it isn't, why might that be?


Kevin, might it be because we as a race haven't yet invented the language for it yet? Just because something isn't describable doesn't necessarily mean it isn't there.

Also string theory for instance isn't exactly describable in "common-sense" language.


I understand your point, but I would argue that string theory is highly describable in its own language and -- and this is the important bit -- that language is accessible to anybody, and can be taught. The language in this case is that of multi-dimensional vector calculus and it certainly isn't an easy thing to learn or to teach, but no special life experiences or insight are needed. Just the patient to grapple with very complicated math concepts for, oh, four years or so smile

People are using modes of expression in this thread that parse like English statements, but do not appear to me to convey any information in plain English. If there is an underlying language that does carry information, it's not clear to me what it is, or that it is accessible or can be taught.

As a species, it's true that we do lack a straighforward vocabulary to express our reaction to art. To my mind, the way forward is to try to _develop_ a straighforward vocabulary, or at least to try to determine those areas of discussion where we simply have no language, and accept that as the case. To make up a language where there isn't one, and then pretent that its meaning is obvious, seems totally unhelpful to me.

There's a lot of this sort of thing in the arts. I'd suggest that it's actually more of a problem in visual arts than in music -- painters and sculptors frquently discuss their work in language which I am convinced is totally content-free.

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#1703462 - 06/28/11 08:19 AM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: kevinb]
stores Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6646
Loc: Here, as opposed to there
Originally Posted By: kevinb
We aren't talking about ... transcendental experiences here.



Music IS a transcendental experience!
_________________________

"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

♪ ≠ $


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#1703473 - 06/28/11 08:47 AM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: stores]
kevinb Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
Originally Posted By: stores
Originally Posted By: kevinb
We aren't talking about ... transcendental experiences here.



Music IS a transcendental experience!


I had a feeling that you'd pick up on that smile And I agree 100% that music _can_ be a transcendental experience. But I question whether it always is, or needs to be to be meaningful.

I fully accept that words can fail us when we try to describe our experience of music. But in such cases, I think the correct approach is to accept that, and admit it. Using incorrect or meaningless words -- as many artists do -- is not helpful and conceals the real problem.

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#1703521 - 06/28/11 10:21 AM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: kevinb]
liszt85 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/26/08
Posts: 3159
Originally Posted By: kevinb

I fully accept that words can fail us when we try to describe our experience of music. But in such cases, I think the correct approach is to accept that, and admit it. Using incorrect or meaningless words -- as many artists do -- is not helpful and conceals the real problem.


This, I agree with. However, there are other social factors to consider. Human beings are wired to behave in ways that are most beneficial to them in a social sense (i.e., to move up the social classes in the social field that they operate in). So for a musician, the underlying and subconscious theme is to move up the rungs of musician social classes and to be able to do that, they need to align their judgments and tastes with stuff that's been proven over time to be most advantageous to their goals. That includes aligning their judgments with what critics usually think and how critics make their judgments. So a musician likely learns to judge the 1981 GG recording as the better recording simply because statistically speaking, that is the kind of taste that helps them move higher.. this could be a social explanation entirely. I'm only mentioning one possibility..and others have mentioned other potential confounds that lead people to believe what they believe. The funny thing about how this operates is also that the people who have adopted these social strategies (which is all of us), usually find it difficult to buy or endorse a different view point simply because its contradictory to their internal goals and strategies that we've adopted to meet those goals. Again, all these arguments are inspired by Pierre Bourdieu's work on the judgment of taste.

However, yes.. I personally don't give too much value to these words that people randomly assign to stuff that really cannot be described in words. It does obscure thought.
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#1703540 - 06/28/11 10:51 AM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: liszt85]
kevinb Offline
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Posts: 1565
Originally Posted By: liszt85
So for a musician, the underlying and subconscious theme is to move up the rungs of musician social classes and to be able to do that, they need to align their judgments and tastes with stuff that's been proven over time to be most advantageous to their goals. That includes aligning their judgments with what critics usually think and how critics make their judgments.


Crickey ! And I thought I was cynical smile

A fine arts tutor of my acquaintance quite openly states that he marks students' work according to 'what will most find favour in the contemporary arts establishment'. Cynical, perhaps,but at least honest. If it's impossible to be objective, you might as well be subjective in a helpful way.

I suspect that people who grew up in the classical music tradition -- who started playing Chopin from age 5 and went on to do the exams, conservatory, etc. -- would be thoroughly imbued with the culture of the classical music establishment. In such a case, I can see why one would feel that certain viewpoints are so obvious as not needing explanation.

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#1703541 - 06/28/11 10:55 AM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: kevinb]
Pogorelich. Offline
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Originally Posted By: kevinb
Originally Posted By: wr

I think that mystical talk in this area is perfectly appropriate - it isn't science, it's art.


Well, in the end, that's the root of our disagreement, is it not? I don't think the kind of discussion in this thread requires, or benefits from mystical talk. We aren't talking about religious or transcendental experiences here. In fact, I would go further and say that I believe that very often people who do use this kind of expression are doing so -- perhaps unconsciously -- in an attempt justify something that want to believe is true, but have no rational grounds for thinking really is true.

I would expect that reasonably intelligent people of about the same age and roughly the same social background, with all their faculties, and a shared interest in art music, _should_ be able to back up their arguments between one another with some non-esoteric argument, using ordinary words with ordinary dictionary meanings.

And yet, on this thread, nobody has.

And that leaves me (and I guess the other doubters) trying to determine whether people who make claims about the importance of life experience in piano performance

a. Genuinely cannot express their views to people who do not have the same esoteric vocabulary, or
b. Are using esoteric language to mask the fact that they don't actually have any reason for believing as they do.

I'd like to think it was (a). I fear it might be (b).


Like I said before, in another thread, I gave you two links which I don't think you acknowledged. I also gave a detailed description with multiple examples from my own experiences - Chopin 2nd concerto and Wagner Liebestod, as well as various occurances in my playing in relation to real life experiences.

Like wr, I'm always surprised when people try to turn art into science. I guess it's not surprising, because you mentioned you were a scientist - I'm not... I'm just a pianist, nothing more. So there - I don't think we can continue to argue about this, because I feel that no matter what I say, you will always find ways to reject it, even if it's something I've experiences myself.


Edited by Pogorelich. (06/28/11 10:56 AM)
_________________________

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#1703546 - 06/28/11 11:05 AM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: wr]
Peace-Piece Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/02/11
Posts: 40
Originally Posted By: kevinb
And that leaves me (and I guess the other doubters) trying to determine whether people who make claims about the importance of life experience in piano performance...


To a lot of people, myself included, the idea that a person's experience would not effect their music (or anything they do actually), is not only counter intuitive, but similarly fails on test of reasoning based on experience, emotions etc.

The idea that someone might prove this, in any sort of scientific way, seems a touch absurd. It's like someone to prove they love another person. They will only be able to provide you with anecdotal evidence, personal experience, collected thoughts and so on.

I might be missing something, but I gather the counter idea is something like:
Quote:
The extent to which subtle emotion can be communicated by music is something that can be studied and, to some extent, has been. So far as I know, the research suggests that it's possible to play a piece of music in such a way that the listener can get 'happy', 'sad', 'angry', etc., but nothing much more subtle than that.


So basically a pure reductionist view of the world. The universe and anything contained within in it is a giant mechanism where emotions are controlled by responses. Philosophically and scientifically this actually has more problems with it than the alternative (beyond the scope of this post unless you want a novel f). The main problem as I see it, aside from scientific evidence that the universe indeed may very well not function like a machine, is that if you're not basing your rational/scientific and emotional judgments on the basis of your own felt-experience, you'd be basing them on someone else's anyway. Like wr said:

Quote:
t may be that at some time in the future, it will be possible to describe all this in a much more scientifically-based way, but I don't think we are even remotely close to it right now.


And in fairness, if you propose an alternative, you ought to lay out a theory in it's place. However, just for fun, and even though I feel I'm falling into a trap trying to catch the uncatchable....

Why are there so few original pieces of art by people under 16 that are generally considered moving? There are plenty of kids who have technique at the age that would be satisfactory to implement their ideas.

How would you explain the creation of self-determined music of emotion and experience which is so time/location specific such as blues (as one example)?

Anyway, it's an interesting discussion. My personal theory is that music is both a combination of an individuals sense of self (constantly evolving i.e experience) and their connection to the cosmic force. In other words, I don't think music is pulled from some existential nowhere, it has an evolving meaning that is both personal and universal. thumb


Edited by Peace-Piece (06/28/11 11:10 AM)
_________________________
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#1703732 - 06/28/11 05:46 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: kevinb]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7844
Originally Posted By: kevinb
Originally Posted By: wr

I think that mystical talk in this area is perfectly appropriate - it isn't science, it's art.


Well, in the end, that's the root of our disagreement, is it not? I don't think the kind of discussion in this thread requires, or benefits from mystical talk. We aren't talking about religious or transcendental experiences here. In fact, I would go further and say that I believe that very often people who do use this kind of expression are doing so -- perhaps unconsciously -- in an attempt justify something that want to believe is true, but have no rational grounds for thinking really is true.

I would expect that reasonably intelligent people of about the same age and roughly the same social background, with all their faculties, and a shared interest in art music, _should_ be able to back up their arguments between one another with some non-esoteric argument, using ordinary words with ordinary dictionary meanings.

And yet, on this thread, nobody has.

And that leaves me (and I guess the other doubters) trying to determine whether people who make claims about the importance of life experience in piano performance

a. Genuinely cannot express their views to people who do not have the same esoteric vocabulary, or
b. Are using esoteric language to mask the fact that they don't actually have any reason for believing as they do.

I'd like to think it was (a). I fear it might be (b).




Whatever...if you can't cope with the language people use, perhaps you should avoid the discussion.

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#1704013 - 06/29/11 02:52 AM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: Peace-Piece]
kevinb Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
Originally Posted By: Peace-Piece

The idea that someone might prove this, in any sort of scientific way, seems a touch absurd. It's like someone to prove they love another person. They will only be able to provide you with anecdotal evidence, personal experience, collected thoughts and so on.


But if love is not manifested in behaviour, what reason would anybody have to believe it?

The reality, surely, is that if A loves B, then at least B will be aware of that at least some of the time, and most likely other people will also. Whatever A might feel, B would have good reason to doubt A's claim to love B if there were no practical implications whatsoever.

I'm not asking anybody to justify their subjective impressions. I'm simply asking for some actual behavioural examples -- some actual differences in performance, however slight.

Originally Posted By: Peace-Piece

How would you explain the creation of self-determined music of emotion and experience which is so time/location specific such as blues (as one example)?


I see two problems with this argument. First, we've been talking about performance, not composition (and I accept that composition is not really the right word here either).

If, out of my own emotional turmoil, I create a whole new genre of music to express it, I'd say that's a pretty good empirical indicator of my emotional state. It's exactly what I've been talking about -- emotion manifest in behaviour.

Second, the social conditions that led up to the development of blues are pretty complicated, and not all that well understood. To say that it is entirely a form of emotional self-expression is, I think, not the whole story.

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#1704014 - 06/29/11 02:55 AM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: wr]
kevinb Offline
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Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
Originally Posted By: wr

Whatever...if you can't cope with the language people use, perhaps you should avoid the discussion.


I don't have a problem with the lanuage people use -- I have a problem with the language you use.

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#1704035 - 06/29/11 05:29 AM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: pianoloverus]
wr Offline
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Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7844
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
If one thinks an older pianist will be better because of their life experience, how could one know whether their "better" playing wasn't really due in part or completely due to their greater musical experience/knowledge? Or maybe because their greater technical ability allowed them to express what ever they want to better?

I think the answer is it's impossible to know so any "answers" are speculation. Certainly it's impossible to measure.



The listener doesn't need to be able to identify the exact reasons why a mature performer may imbue their performance with more depth, richness, profundity, etc. All that matters is that it happens. And sure, you are right - an accumulation of musical experience should be included as being potentially extremely important in shaping their interpretation, as well as their technical ability to convey the music.

But I don't think that the fact all that may be unknowable for the listener is the point. The point is that the life experience can make a difference to the performer, regardless of whether the listener knows about the specifics or not. The performer doesn't really have to be consciously aware of it in any specific way, either.

I think the separation of non-musical "life experience" and musical experience is somewhat artificial. In the end, it is all experience, and any of it may affect the musician's outlook and ability to understand and project the music they perform. I think many musicians can point to various musical experiences that were major events in their life, which might be as important as many of the so-called "life experiences".

To me, this not just about going through the experiences of life and music. It is also about how, as one grows older, the way one understands things can become synthesized into larger patterns, and how intuition can become more prominent. The mind itself can mature, in other words. Those things can be reflected in how a musician understands the music and how they perform it, I think.

And the actual music being played factors into all this, too. There's a lot of music that may not get a lot of added value from being interpreted by a wise old geezer. Prokofiev's first piano concerto comes to mind, right away.

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#1704065 - 06/29/11 07:37 AM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: wr]
kevinb Offline
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Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
Originally Posted By: wr

But I don't think that the fact all that may be unknowable for the listener is the point. The point is that the life experience can make a difference to the performer, regardless of whether the listener knows about the specifics or not. The performer doesn't really have to be consciously aware of it in any specific way, either.


If it's unknowable for the listener and the performer is not aware of it, what reason do you have for thinking that you're talking about a real phenomenon here?

People keep accusing me of 'materialism' and 'empiricism', but the difference between two piano performances _is_ an empirical event.

I am reminded of that old fable about the emperor and the goldfish... The emperor offers his barons fabulous wealth if they can explain why a dead goldfish floats belly-up. Don't know why -- he just does. The barons can't figure it out, so they ask the court philosophers, and they can't figure it out, so they ask... and so on and so on; you get the idea.

In the end the question ends up with the junior under-butler's boot-boy and he says: "Who told you dead goldfish float belly up? When my pet goldfish died, it floated belly down. Don't they always?"

The point is that it's fruitless arguing about why something happens, until you can be sure that it happens. The 'why' might be wholly subjective and completely unknownable, but that it happens (or doesn't) is purely a matter of observation.

So far as the life-experiences-playing-piano question is concerned, people seem to be suggesting that I disagree with their ideas about why it happens. I don't -- I disagree that it happens. Or, at least, I see no strong evidence that it does. When I ask for such evidence, people seem to think that I'm asking them to justify their subjective impressions which, of course, is as close to impossible as makes no difference. What I'm asking for what observations that people have made that makes them believe it happens at all -- and that is 100%, purely, entirely an empirical matter.

One can speculate as long as one likes about the reasons why different life experiences might affect musicality but, without some actual factual evidence to base such a discussion on, it's all just a discussion of why dead goldfish float belly up.

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#1704067 - 06/29/11 07:45 AM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: kevinb]
stores Offline
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Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6646
Loc: Here, as opposed to there
Originally Posted By: kevinb


One can speculate as long as one likes about the reasons why different life experiences might affect musicality but, without some actual factual evidence to base such a discussion on, it's all just a discussion of why dead goldfish float belly up.





In your opinion, that is.
_________________________

"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

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#1704072 - 06/29/11 07:59 AM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: stores]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Registered: 05/29/01
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Originally Posted By: stores
Originally Posted By: kevinb


One can speculate as long as one likes about the reasons why different life experiences might affect musicality but, without some actual factual evidence to base such a discussion on, it's all just a discussion of why dead goldfish float belly up.


In your opinion, that is.
Stated by someone who virtually never includes this in his own often highly opinionated statements.

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#1704079 - 06/29/11 08:11 AM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: wr]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
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Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
If one thinks an older pianist will be better because of their life experience, how could one know whether their "better" playing wasn't really due in part or completely due to their greater musical experience/knowledge? Or maybe because their greater technical ability allowed them to express what ever they want to better?

I think the answer is it's impossible to know so any "answers" are speculation. Certainly it's impossible to measure.



The listener doesn't need to be able to identify the exact reasons why a mature performer may imbue their performance with more depth, richness, profundity, etc. All that matters is that it happens. And sure, you are right - an accumulation of musical experience should be included as being potentially extremely important in shaping their interpretation, as well as their technical ability to convey the music...

I think the separation of non-musical "life experience" and musical experience is somewhat artificial. In the end, it is all experience, and any of it may affect the musician's outlook and ability to understand and project the music they perform. I think many musicians can point to various musical experiences that were major events in their life, which might be as important as many of the so-called "life experiences".

The thread dealt with emotional experiences(as opposed to musical training/experience)for most of its length and certainly at the beginning. Hence my point that it's really impossible to know which of these two things has resulted in a performance that is "better"(even if one thinks that life experience is a determining factor in a better performance).

If a 13 year old plays better than an 18 year(or vice versa) old I think it's impossible to tell whether that resulted from better/longer musical training, greater emotional/life experience, or numerous other factors.

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