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#1702332 - 06/26/11 11:21 AM Life experiences, personality and emotion in music
liszt85 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/26/08
Posts: 3159
Please discuss only music in this thread. Let the flame wars continue (or not, if the mods decide to shut that down) in the "boring people.." thread.

1) One interesting question was if personal life experiences really matter in one's ability to generate an "authentic" interpretation of any given piece of music. The specific example discussed there was the Funeral March from Chopin's sonata.

2)If they do, how is it that young people seem to be able to give as authentic an interpretation as those of older more "mature" and experienced musicians (or is it just an illusion? Do you think that given equivalent musical and pianistic abilities, a pianist later in his life would have a better interpretation of the piece than his own interpretation 30 years ago? You could discuss this in the light of the 1955 and 1981 Glenn Gould recordings. If you thought the 1981 recording was more "mature", do you have specific musical terms that can describe why it was the case?

3) Pianoloverus raised the issue about child prodigies and how some of them seem to be able to come up with very good interpretations of many compositions. I speculated that it might simply be mimicry of the highest quality. Some others agreed too. Discuss.

(Can't remember if there were other interesting questions posed in that thread. I do wish to (yet again) point out that perceived emotion and felt emotion need to be distinguished. My stance is that one can certainly perceive the melancholy and the desired effect that the Funeral March intends without actually having to go through an internal grieving process (either at the time of performance of any time in the past) and that is sufficient to generate an "authentic" performance of that piece.

Discuss.
_________________________
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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#1702338 - 06/26/11 11:30 AM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: liszt85]
Happy Birthday stores Offline
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Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6646
Loc: Here, as opposed to there
There are works that I played 25 years ago that I hear differently now and it's precisely because with age I've experienced a great deal more than I had then. I don't see the world quite the same now nor do I hear things the same way. Experience changes everything. If you don't believe so then you haven't yet lived long enough. Of course, personality also factors into any interpretation. If not we'd all sound the same. Any musician leaves their own "fingerprint" on a performance. I don't see how emotion doesn't figure into things. It's in the score, after all. Whether performer or audience, an emotional response is unavoidable.
_________________________

"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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#1702343 - 06/26/11 11:39 AM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: stores]
Cinnamonbear Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/09/10
Posts: 3885
Loc: Rockford, IL
Originally Posted By: stores
There are works that I played 25 years ago that I hear differently now and it's precisely because with age I've experienced a great deal more than I had then. I don't see the world quite the same now nor do I hear things the same way. Experience changes everything. If you don't believe so then you haven't yet lived long enough. Of course, personality also factors into any interpretation. If not we'd all sound the same. Any musician leaves their own "fingerprint" on a performance. I don't see how emotion doesn't figure into things. It's in the score, after all. Whether performer or audience, an emotional response is unavoidable.


Stores, what is your understanding of "absolute music"? Is it, or was it, as a concept, a contributing factor in the way classical music is or was composed and performed? Should it, as a concept, factor into the study and performance of a piece, as, say, the same way that the study and performance of ornamentation factors into baroque music (just thowing that baroque thing out here for sake of illustration)? Was it (absolute music) a pre-cursor to the concept of the ideal of "purity"?

Thanks!
--Andy
_________________________
I may not be fast,
but at least I'm slow.

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#1702384 - 06/26/11 01:12 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: liszt85]
Pogorelich. Offline
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Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 4528
Loc: in the past
I think absolute music refers to music that is not programmatic - so music that doesn't have a "programmed" story to it. So absolute music would be things like Beethoven sonatas, Chopin nocturnes, concertos, etc.

I still don't think absolute music means no emotional content - plus the term "program music' came way, way later, and in my view it's more limited than absolute music because there can only be ONE meaning. While absolute music can have several, depending on what you see in the music and how you choose to interpret it.

Life experiences change your views on various situation, do they not? Similarly, they change how you hear/interpret music and really, how you sound. Of course it matters what kind of person you are, because that will come through in the playing and a good ear will distinguish it.
_________________________

'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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#1702391 - 06/26/11 01:16 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: liszt85]
asiantraveller101 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/31/08
Posts: 158
Loc: ME
I think it is very important for us not to confuse between maturity and authenticity. Maturity does come with more extensive life experiences. I will not discuss maturity in music in this response.
Points 1 and 2: First off, each person plays his/her music the way he or she perceived how the music should sound like. (Yes, I do not discount the fact that some kids, or even so-called "mature" pianists fail to come out with their own interpretation and approach to their music) In a child's mind, and at that particular juncture in life, his/her own individual life experiences may dictate the way the music is externally projected. Do we discount the fact that the child that has his/her goldfish or dog died, and therefore would be able to play an authentic Funeral march? I think it is important for us to understand that music is a projection of one's concept and inner thoughts regarding the music. It is unfair for us to judge if the music sounds more "mature", or more "juvenile", but to keep an open mind to enjoy each performance as a whole, and as a unique presentation from the performer to the listeners. I have both GG's recordings. I enjoy both equally much. The 1955 for its youthfulness, vibrancy, and vitality; the 1981 for its more introverted and contemplative approach. However, I won't say one is less authentic than the other. Both are manifestations of a particular juncture in GG's life.
Point 3: I have heard many so-called gifted kids. Sometimes I do feel that they are imitating and sometimes I do feel a genuine presentation from them. However, again I try to refrain from making any blanket statement that all child prodigy is a product of mimicry of the highest quality. We have to take each individual child as he/she is; just like there are tons of pianists out there. Not every pianist is everyone's "cup of tea".
In conclusion, for me personally, all performances are authentic so long as each performer has internalized his/her music and come out with his/her own interpretation to the music. We may or may not like the interpretation or approach, but it is not for us to say if it is authentic or not. For example, (not trying to open any can of worms!) as much as I criticize Lang2 for his overtly exaggerated performances, I still respect him as a fellow musician who is able to come out with his own ideas and interpretation to his music. Yes, we all have our prerogative to like or dislike his music, but it is unfair to say that his music is not or less authentic just because his playing does not meet our own perception of how the music should sound like.


Edited by asiantraveller101 (06/26/11 01:17 PM)
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#1702399 - 06/26/11 01:23 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: Pogorelich.]
Cinnamonbear Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/09/10
Posts: 3885
Loc: Rockford, IL
I think I get it, Angelina. If I understand you, you are saying that all music that doesn't "come with a script from the composer"--the program--is absolute music. So, modern or contemporary 20th century music can be "absolute music," too.

Is music like Ravel's "Miroirs" considered programmed music because of the pictoral implication of each title (i.e., Night Moths, A Boat on the Ocean, etc.)?

I'm still trying to understand the idea.

Thanks!
--Andy
_________________________
I may not be fast,
but at least I'm slow.

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#1702403 - 06/26/11 01:32 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: Cinnamonbear]
gooddog Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 4794
Loc: Seattle area, WA
Originally Posted By: Cinnamonbear
I think I get it, Angelina. If I understand you, you are saying that all music that doesn't "come with a script from the composer"--the program--is absolute music. So, modern or contemporary 20th century music can be "absolute music," too.

Is music like Ravel's "Miroirs" considered programmed music because of the pictoral implication of each title (i.e., Night Moths, A Boat on the Ocean, etc.)?

I'm still trying to understand the idea.

Thanks!
--Andy
While I was under the impression that the battle between absolute music (the Schumanns, Brahms,) and programmatic music (Liszt, Wagner) started in the mid 18th century, I wonder where Bach's music would fall? He said his music was written for the glory of God. He was a Christian so certainly there is a story behind it.
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Deborah

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#1702410 - 06/26/11 01:41 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: stores]
liszt85 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/26/08
Posts: 3159
Originally Posted By: stores
I don't see the world quite the same now nor do I hear things the same way. Experience changes everything. If you don't believe so then you haven't yet lived long enough. Of course, personality also factors into any interpretation. If not we'd all sound the same. Any musician leaves their own "fingerprint" on a performance. I don't see how emotion doesn't figure into things. It's in the score, after all. Whether performer or audience, an emotional response is unavoidable.


I absolutely agree that experience changes things but the question is, is it for the "better"? How can one say that your interpretation of the WTC is better now than 20 years ago? So is it necessary that more life experiences = better music (other factors remaining equal in a hypothetical case)? That's my question.

Also, I never challenged any of what you say. An emotional response is unavoidable, no doubt. However, is it necessary to actually internally experience pure grief while performing the Funeral March to be able to deliver an "authentic" performance of it or is it enough to understand the nature of the melancholy that the sound pattern is meant to create and to deliver that with the greatest sense of artistry? I'm sure the performer will experience some emotion too.. but does it have a crucial causal link to how good the performance is going to be? So then back to the question that Pogo hinted at: Would somebody who's lost a loved one play the Funeral March better than somebody who hasn't (again, all other factors remaining the same)? My stance, to reiterate, is that a 25 year old highly accomplished and emotionally mature pianist (one with sufficient imagination of what the range of emotional responses *can* be) who has had NO life experience of having lost a loved one can potentially deliver as "good" (again, a somewhat subjective measure but lets assume we agree here on the most part as to what a "good" performance is) a performance of the Funeral March as a 50 year old equally highly accomplished pianist who's had a tragic life involving the loss of loved ones.

Similarly personality. No doubt personality causes each person to have his/her fingerprint on a performance. However, at the highest professional level (Pogo's counter example doesn't work here because I really mean pianists at the highest professional level, not a student at a conservatory), even if a person is timid by nature, I believe that won't really have an adverse effect on how he might play a Liszt etude or whatever.. would other aspects of his personality leave a "fingerprint"? Sure, but nothing that makes it better or worse than somebody else's fingerprint in an objective sense. One "fingerprint" might agree better with your sensibilities..subjective sensibilities and that's the one you'd probably prefer (at this place and time). So again, is one personality type "better" than the other when it comes to comparing "authenticity" of two performances?

Btw, 26 years is long enough to see that how I think now is way different from how I thought about things 10 years ago. wink So I've never contested that much.
_________________________
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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#1702444 - 06/26/11 02:57 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: liszt85]
PaulaPiano34 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/16/10
Posts: 1217
Originally Posted By: liszt85
Originally Posted By: stores
I don't see the world quite the same now nor do I hear things the same way. Experience changes everything. If you don't believe so then you haven't yet lived long enough. Of course, personality also factors into any interpretation. If not we'd all sound the same. Any musician leaves their own "fingerprint" on a performance. I don't see how emotion doesn't figure into things. It's in the score, after all. Whether performer or audience, an emotional response is unavoidable.


I absolutely agree that experience changes things but the question is, is it for the "better"? How can one say that your interpretation of the WTC is better now than 20 years ago? So is it necessary that more life experiences = better music (other factors remaining equal in a hypothetical case)? That's my question.


I once complained to my teacher that I thought I was too young to be playing this one Rachmaninov prelude (you can view that performance on my YT channel BTW). He told me that there was no such thing as "too young" and that this was a piece that would grow and mature with me throughout the years as I played. How I played it now was certainly not how I'd play it like when I was 65 and he said it isn't being fair to myself to compare my performance now as a young teen with a more experienced adult's. He also told me not to try and play it like I was older but play with how I felt right now. He also said interpretations change but it doesn't necessarily mean better, it just means they change and different aspects speak to you at different times. Just my $0.02.

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#1702454 - 06/26/11 03:20 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: PaulaPiano34]
liszt85 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/26/08
Posts: 3159
Originally Posted By: chobeethaninov
Originally Posted By: liszt85
Originally Posted By: stores
I don't see the world quite the same now nor do I hear things the same way. Experience changes everything. If you don't believe so then you haven't yet lived long enough. Of course, personality also factors into any interpretation. If not we'd all sound the same. Any musician leaves their own "fingerprint" on a performance. I don't see how emotion doesn't figure into things. It's in the score, after all. Whether performer or audience, an emotional response is unavoidable.


I absolutely agree that experience changes things but the question is, is it for the "better"? How can one say that your interpretation of the WTC is better now than 20 years ago? So is it necessary that more life experiences = better music (other factors remaining equal in a hypothetical case)? That's my question.


I once complained to my teacher that I thought I was too young to be playing this one Rachmaninov prelude (you can view that performance on my YT channel BTW). He told me that there was no such thing as "too young" and that this was a piece that would grow and mature with me throughout the years as I played. How I played it now was certainly not how I'd play it like when I was 65 and he said it isn't being fair to myself to compare my performance now as a young teen with a more experienced adult's. He also told me not to try and play it like I was older but play with how I felt right now. He also said interpretations change but it doesn't necessarily mean better, it just means they change and different aspects speak to you at different times. Just my $0.02.


That's exactly what I think about this entire issue. The "maturation" process is a social construct really. Like your teacher said, that doesn't imply "better". Thanks for sharing your thoughts here. smile
_________________________
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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#1702478 - 06/26/11 04:02 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: gooddog]
BruceD Offline
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Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 17966
Loc: Victoria, BC
Originally Posted By: gooddog
While I was under the impression that the battle between absolute music (the Schumanns, Brahms,) and programmatic music (Liszt, Wagner) started in the mid 18th century, I wonder where Bach's music would fall? He said his music was written for the glory of God. He was a Christian so certainly there is a story behind it.


I think there's a distinction to be made between music that "was written for the glory of God" and individual pieces of music that have distinct programs attached to them. In the first instance, is this not Bach's religious conviction and his overarching approach to (almost) all of his output, much of which, individually, remains abstract and, thus, absolute? In the latter, works such as "Golliwog's Cakewalk" or the individual movements of Berlioz' "Symphonie Fantastique" bearing titles which portray specific images or dramas or evoke specific literary references or emotional states are, therefore, programmatic.

Regards,
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#1702490 - 06/26/11 04:32 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: liszt85]
Happy Birthday stores Offline
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Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6646
Loc: Here, as opposed to there
Originally Posted By: liszt85

I absolutely agree that experience changes things but the question is, is it for the "better"? How can one say that your interpretation of the WTC is better now than 20 years ago?


I didn't say that experience necessarily made it any better (by the way my post wasn't specifically aimed at you...just some of my thoughts), but it's certainly changed...and hopefully for the better, yes. Better is all in the "eyes of the beholder", of course. Do I believe that one NEEDS to experience certain things in order to give a "better" performance? Not necessarily, but I think if you've "lived" through certain things that life throws your way that you'll be better equipped to convey certain emotions to your audience. There are aspects of life that the imagination simply cannot comprehend.
_________________________

"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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#1702494 - 06/26/11 04:39 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: liszt85]
Keith D Kerman Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3318
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
The 55' Gould Goldbergs is my preference over the 81' by quite a bit. Of course, that was one of the very first records ( yes records ) I ever owned, and I listened to it until I wore it out. So there is likely a nostalgia factor there as well, but, there are many other examples of recordings that I loved when I first heard them that I liked less and less as I developed a deeper understanding of music.
I can think of several pianists who I prefer their younger playing to their older playing. The most obvious examples would be when they rerecorded the same repertoire.
Gilels and Arrau are 2 examples. I am not talking about when these folks got so old that they didn't have the chops anymore also.
I greatly prefer Ashkenazy's Chopin playing in his recordings from the 60s to his later recording. Listen to his earlier Ballades and Scherzi and then his later recordings of the same works and judge for yourself.
There are so many ways to look at this topic. Sometimes inexperience gives a kind of freshness and sometimes a fearlessness to ones playing that can be difficult to recreate later.

Also, what a 19 year old has to express is as valid as what a 60 year old has to express. The 60 year old has lots more experience, but the 19 year old has lots more youth and lots more energy!

This is such a complex issue. Experience and maturity of course bring so much to the performance that it is almost ridiculous to try and describe it, but don't forget that youth brings a kind of optimism, freshness, need to prove oneself, energy, fearlessness, idealism, etc that experience and perspective can often rob from the pianist.

As always, it depends!
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Keith D Kerman
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#1702552 - 06/26/11 07:04 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: liszt85]
Pogorelich. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 4528
Loc: in the past
Keith - my teacher is approaching 70 and still plays like a demon hahaha
_________________________

'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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#1702558 - 06/26/11 07:26 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: asiantraveller101]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7804
Originally Posted By: asiantraveller101

In conclusion, for me personally, all performances are authentic so long as each performer has internalized his/her music and come out with his/her own interpretation to the music. We may or may not like the interpretation or approach, but it is not for us to say if it is authentic or not.


I don't understand why you say it is not for us to say if an interpretation is authentic or not. To me, that's just another of the myriad impressions we might, as listeners, have about any given performance, and it seems just as legitimate a criterion as any other, I think. I do agree that we shouldn't equate authenticity with maturity, though, even if they can be very closely related in a given performer's music making.

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#1702567 - 06/26/11 07:58 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: wr]
asiantraveller101 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/31/08
Posts: 158
Loc: ME
Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: asiantraveller101

In conclusion, for me personally, all performances are authentic so long as each performer has internalized his/her music and come out with his/her own interpretation to the music. We may or may not like the interpretation or approach, but it is not for us to say if it is authentic or not.


I don't understand why you say it is not for us to say if an interpretation is authentic or not. To me, that's just another of the myriad impressions we might, as listeners, have about any given performance, and it seems just as legitimate a criterion as any other, I think. I do agree that we shouldn't equate authenticity with maturity, though, even if they can be very closely related in a given performer's music making.

Yes, "impressions" that you may get, but that still does not determine if one's playing is more authentic than someone else's. Is GG's Bach more authentic than Tureck's? Schiff's more authentic than Hewitt's? Nope, we can't "judge" authenticity merely by basing it on our own perceived impressions. Therefore, for me, I can only based authenticity on the honesty and how truthful of a performer is to his/her art. Has she or him as a performer, shared with us the audience, an internalized understanding of the music. I think we can always tell if a person is genuine in his work or not, since we all share common emotion. And music is a reflection of human emotion. When someone cry, we feel it. When some is angry, we know it. Therefore, when a performer shares a "piece of him/herself" through music, we know it too. That is authenticity.


Edited by asiantraveller101 (06/26/11 07:59 PM)
_________________________
JN

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#1702573 - 06/26/11 08:18 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: gooddog]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7804
Originally Posted By: gooddog
While I was under the impression that the battle between absolute music (the Schumanns, Brahms,) and programmatic music (Liszt, Wagner) started in the mid 18th [sic] century, I wonder where Bach's music would fall? He said his music was written for the glory of God. He was a Christian so certainly there is a story behind it.


I think you are right that the debate about absolute and program music started in earnest during the 19th century.

I don't think that Bach's blanket statement about the reason he wrote music has any connection to whether a given piece of his music is program or absolute music. By the way, I think "for the glory of God" was a common piety that often appeared on works of art in that era - it wasn't some unusual thing unique to Bach.

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#1702575 - 06/26/11 08:22 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: asiantraveller101]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7804
Originally Posted By: asiantraveller101
Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: asiantraveller101

In conclusion, for me personally, all performances are authentic so long as each performer has internalized his/her music and come out with his/her own interpretation to the music. We may or may not like the interpretation or approach, but it is not for us to say if it is authentic or not.


I don't understand why you say it is not for us to say if an interpretation is authentic or not. To me, that's just another of the myriad impressions we might, as listeners, have about any given performance, and it seems just as legitimate a criterion as any other, I think. I do agree that we shouldn't equate authenticity with maturity, though, even if they can be very closely related in a given performer's music making.

Yes, "impressions" that you may get, but that still does not determine if one's playing is more authentic than someone else's. Is GG's Bach more authentic than Tureck's? Schiff's more authentic than Hewitt's? Nope, we can't "judge" authenticity merely by basing it on our own perceived impressions. Therefore, for me, I can only based authenticity on the honesty and how truthful of a performer is to his/her art. Has she or him as a performer, shared with us the audience, an internalized understanding of the music. I think we can always tell if a person is genuine in his work or not, since we all share common emotion. And music is a reflection of human emotion. When someone cry, we feel it. When some is angry, we know it. Therefore, when a performer shares a "piece of him/herself" through music, we know it too. That is authenticity.


Wait, I thought you said we shouldn't/couldn't judge authenticity. That is the idea I responded to, anyway. Now, in this post, I am reading you as saying the exact opposite.

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#1702582 - 06/26/11 08:41 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: Keith D Kerman]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7804
Originally Posted By: Keith D Kerman

I can think of several pianists who I prefer their younger playing to their older playing.


I can too - certainly Ashkenazy is one. Arrau is sometimes yes, sometimes no.

It is not as if longer life automatically translates into deeper, more expressive playing. And it is not as if all music benefits from it, either. And of course, much depends on who is listening and what they value.

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#1702588 - 06/26/11 08:47 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: Keith D Kerman

I can think of several pianists who I prefer their younger playing to their older playing.


I can too - certainly Ashkenazy is one. Arrau is sometimes yes, sometimes no.

It is not as if longer life automatically translates into deeper, more expressive playing. And it is not as if all music benefits from it, either. And of course, much depends on who is listening and what they value.




I'm glad to hear specific examples of people preferring earlier recordings of the same artist. wr, do you also share Keith's preference for the 1955 GG recording (to the 1981)?

I wonder what these artists themselves think of these recordings.. I'm willing to bet that they hold the most recent recording in greater esteem than they do their earlier recordings. (There are theories of autobiographical memory and probably even from other domains that could explain why that might be the case but I don't want to complicate this already complex discussion further).
_________________________
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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#1702599 - 06/26/11 09:09 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: wr]
ando Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3564
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: Keith D Kerman

I can think of several pianists who I prefer their younger playing to their older playing.


I can too - certainly Ashkenazy is one. Arrau is sometimes yes, sometimes no.

It is not as if longer life automatically translates into deeper, more expressive playing. And it is not as if all music benefits from it, either. And of course, much depends on who is listening and what they value.



True, some people become very cynical and jaded with age and this could become a very negative influence on their music. (Unless of course it was a programmatic piece about feeling jaded!).

Maturity does not always come with age, although a certain age and experience is necessary for the maximum maturity of the individual. The prevailing belief that we all gain maturity as we age is a very false one. My own father is as much of an emotionally stunted child as he ever was. One of my friends is much older than me - he's a 60 year old in the grips of alcoholism and doesn't have a clue why he feels the way he does or how to change it. When he's drinking he makes excuses for himself and says, "you're too young, you wouldn't understand", so he's using the veil of age=maturity to justify his actions.

Time can undo as much as it creates. People must be motivated to learn and grow to reach maturity. Maturity for some people means slowing things down, reducing clutter, calming the mind and body. This may not be ideal for a technical musician. Youth has an energy and vigour that older people don't have. That has musical value. Seeing somebody perform who has no limitations in terms of strength and energy can be exhilarating - and it is sincere if that's who they are. Older people who have consistently furthered themselves in terms of music and life probably have an interpretative edge that they can channel into their music. It's all very subjective though - and nothing should be taken as a given. Being lazy, unproductive and narrow minded couldn't possibly produce maturity. The idealism of youth can be wise, but it can also be ignorant. Maturity is a delicate balance.

Although I've been through a lot in my life, I don't deliberately try to summon my life-experience when I play (unless I write a piece with lyrics). I'm sure it's there in the background because I do summon emotion - but not in a programmatic memory sense. I like the experience of emotions that are distinct from thoughts. Music for me is about exploring emotions and sound. I don't want to focus on banal thoughts at that special time. When composing, having stories, themes and emotions is invaluable because it generates content.

I don't think there are two people in the world who approach emotion,thought and music in exactly the same way.

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#1702601 - 06/26/11 09:11 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: liszt85]
Canonie Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/04/09
Posts: 1941
Loc: Australia
My thoughts... The "special something" that separates the pretty good from the truly wonderful is not particularly about the emotional experience of the performer and the projecting of this experience through performance.

I believe that it is command of the Language of music that makes for extraordinary interpretation and performance. It's as if the more modest pianist knows all the words (phrases, dynamics, structure, climax, detailed analysis of form) but the "admired concert pianist" speaks the piece as easily as his or her native tongue.

The barriers between notes and phrases, between melody and accompaniment, between speech rhythms and dance rhythms, all dissolve in the sweep of the music re-forming itself in performance. Whatever humanity there is in the performer can be taken up in this sweep and becomes part of the performance, and we hear it I suppose. We have an emotional response to the whole music: composer, performer, instrument. We may shed tears while the performer does not.

Most people have some sort of humanity worth listening to - even young people.

Have you listened to a performer on youtube where all the notes and rhythms are correct, the interpretation is not mechanical, there is clearly an outpouring of emotion, and yet it is .... not beautiful! and you turn it off before the end. It's not emotion that this person lacks but the deep and wide understanding and command of music as a language (through lots of hard work and music experience more than life experience).

I would post a particular recording I heard yesterday, but perhaps not polite!
_________________________

Composers manufacture a product that is universally deemed superfluous—at least until their music enters public consciousness, at which point people begin to say that they could not live without it.
Alex Ross.

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#1702619 - 06/26/11 09:56 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: liszt85]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7804
Originally Posted By: liszt85


I absolutely agree that experience changes things but the question is, is it for the "better"? How can one say that your interpretation of the WTC is better now than 20 years ago? So is it necessary that more life experiences = better music (other factors remaining equal in a hypothetical case)? That's my question.



Sometimes experience can change interpretive ability for the better. Perhaps not always, but sometimes. It doesn't have to be an absolute, one way or the other.

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".

And I think it is important to note that on-going musical experience is part of life experience.

Quote:


Also, I never challenged any of what you say. An emotional response is unavoidable, no doubt. However, is it necessary to actually internally experience pure grief while performing the Funeral March to be able to deliver an "authentic" performance of it or is it enough to understand the nature of the melancholy that the sound pattern is meant to create and to deliver that with the greatest sense of artistry? I'm sure the performer will experience some emotion too.. but does it have a crucial causal link to how good the performance is going to be? So then back to the question that Pogo hinted at: Would somebody who's lost a loved one play the Funeral March better than somebody who hasn't (again, all other factors remaining the same)? My stance, to reiterate, is that a 25 year old highly accomplished and emotionally mature pianist (one with sufficient imagination of what the range of emotional responses *can* be) who has had NO life experience of having lost a loved one can potentially deliver as "good" (again, a somewhat subjective measure but lets assume we agree here on the most part as to what a "good" performance is) a performance of the Funeral March as a 50 year old equally highly accomplished pianist who's had a tragic life involving the loss of loved ones.



To me, all of that depends on who the younger pianist and the older pianist are, and who is listening. All things are never equal. I agree that it is possible for a younger pianist to deliver a performance as good as an older pianist's. And after all, not everyone even experiences and grieves the death of loved ones in the same way. Also, I am not sure that Chopin's funeral march has to be strongly connected to personal grief, anyway - there are various ways to understand and interpret it.

But if, in fact, the pianists are bringing their experience of grief and tragedy to music where it is appropriate, and one pianist has a lot of deeply-felt experience of that kind, and the other has little or none, and they both are quite skilled at turning their own feelings into expression in the music they perform, I can hardly think that the less-experienced pianist can be as effective at creating the expression of something they personally do not know and have not experienced as the pianist who does know it and has experienced it.

This is not saying that a person without direct experience in life of an emotional state found in the music they are performing can't play it very effectively, and move a listener deeply. They can, but I think the person who has the experience will likely have the potential for even deeper, more specific expression.

Quote:


Similarly personality. No doubt personality causes each person to have his/her fingerprint on a performance. However, at the highest professional level (Pogo's counter example doesn't work here because I really mean pianists at the highest professional level, not a student at a conservatory), even if a person is timid by nature, I believe that won't really have an adverse effect on how he might play a Liszt etude or whatever.. would other aspects of his personality leave a "fingerprint"? Sure, but nothing that makes it better or worse than somebody else's fingerprint in an objective sense. One "fingerprint" might agree better with your sensibilities..subjective sensibilities and that's the one you'd probably prefer (at this place and time). So again, is one personality type "better" than the other when it comes to comparing "authenticity" of two performances?



If a player's personality really is preventing them from understanding and projecting something vital or important to a piece of music, then it definitely is worse than not having that problem. And I think that happens, although I will not name names. Of course, many times, a personality will have enough admirable qualities to offset what may be missing or inappropriate.

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#1702624 - 06/26/11 10:14 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: liszt85]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7804
Originally Posted By: liszt85
wr, do you also share Keith's preference for the 1955 GG recording (to the 1981)?



I don't have a preference. I think each one is worthwhile.

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#1702632 - 06/26/11 10:21 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
wr, do you also share Keith's preference for the 1955 GG recording (to the 1981)?



I don't have a preference. I think each one is worthwhile.


I like that answer.
_________________________
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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#1702654 - 06/26/11 11:16 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: liszt85]
Pogorelich. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 4528
Loc: in the past
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)
_________________________

'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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#1702658 - 06/26/11 11:20 PM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: liszt85]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7804
People are born with some personality already in place - babies have temperament. It appears that DNA and environment both have done a good deal of personality shaping by the time we are born. And by the time we can start playing an instrument, there's a great deal more of our personality that has been added, along with some life experience. Musicality starts manifesting early on, and in some people, it really takes off. It's not so surprising that some prodigies can play very beautifully and convincingly indeed. After all, the music itself often contains most of what is necessary; the performer just needs to provide some basic musicality plus a little temperament and it will work. And how a listener hears it may be just as much about them as it is about the performance - we sometimes project a great deal onto what we hear.

But I have never heard a single prodigy play with the kind of expressive profundity that I have heard some musicians produce much later in life. And that's where the effect of experience shows. I think it is not just "life" experience, either, but an accumulation of musical experience, too.

For me, my ability to listen to music has changed and grown with age, too. There are things I can hear now in some playing that I simply didn't "get" thirty years ago. That's true for the music itself, too.

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#1702748 - 06/27/11 04:24 AM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: Pogorelich.]
kevinb Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
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.

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#1702761 - 06/27/11 05:09 AM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: liszt85]
izaldu Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 1250
Loc:
Many writers, or other type of artists , have created theri best works early in their lives ... Harper Lee, Salinger ... Vargas Llosa, García Márquez, Orson Welles .. it s not only about life experiences, life can also wear out the energy , the will ...even the talent ... my 2 cents ... but there is proof galore

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#1702771 - 06/27/11 05:39 AM Re: Life experiences, personality and emotion in music [Re: kevinb]
Happy Birthday 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: 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.



Well, quite literally, I don't think you can argue that the more life experience one has the wider the range, depth and nuance of emotion they will have experienced as a result of their extended life experiences. Thus, obviously, they bring to any performance a greater emotional palette from which to draw on than one who has experienced very little. Of course, the key is knowing HOW to draw on that palette. Without that knowledge, of course, it won't matter at all. And again, of course, "better" is a matter of opinion, but the more "colors" one can paint with the greater the picture (unless, of course, you're one of those that find beauty in those solid colored canvases).
_________________________

"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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