Welcome to the Piano World Piano Forums
Over 2 million posts about pianos, digital pianos, and all types of keyboard instruments
Join the World's Largest Community of Piano Lovers (it's free)
It's Fun to Play the Piano ... Please Pass It On!

Gifts and supplies for the musician
SEARCH
the Forums & Piano World

This custom search works much better than the built in one and allows searching older posts.
Ad (Piano Sing)
How to Make Your Piano Sing
(ad) Pearl River
Pearl River Pianos
(ad 125) Sweetwater - Digital Keyboards & Other Gear
Digital Pianos at Sweetwater
(ad) Pianoteq
(ad) P B Guide
Acoustic & Digital Piano Guide
Who's Online
135 registered (36251, Alexander Borro, accordeur, 661-Pete, 41 invisible), 1672 Guests and 22 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Quick Links to Useful Piano & Music Resources
Our Classified Ads
Find Piano Professionals-

*Piano Dealers - Piano Stores
*Piano Tuners
*Piano Teachers
*Piano Movers
*Piano Restorations
*Piano Manufacturers
*Organs

Quick Links:
*Advertise On Piano World
*Free Piano Newsletter
*Online Piano Recitals
*Piano Recitals Index
*Piano & Music Accessories
*Music School Listings
* Buying a Piano
*Buying A Acoustic Piano
*Buying a Digital Piano
*Pianos for Sale
*Sell Your Piano
*How Old is My Piano?
*Piano Books
*Piano Art, Pictures, & Posters
*Directory/Site Map
*Contest
*Links
*Virtual Piano
*Music Word Search
*Piano Screen Saver
*Piano Videos
*Virtual Piano Chords
(ad) Estonia Piano
Estonia Pianos
Page 1 of 2 1 2 >
Topic Options
#2105474 - 06/20/13 07:44 PM How to interpret music
Yuuki Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/21/11
Posts: 36
Loc: Tokyo
My teacher tells me that analyzing a piece should help me "interpret" the music.
But I don't know exactly what I'm supposed to do to "interpret" the music.

I googled "music interpretation". one website said one rule was to "making a natural crescendo with ascending passages, and a decrescendo with descending passages".
what other rules are there?

For example, how should I play non-chordal tones like appogiaturas?
My teacher tells me that the "appogiaturas" should "lean" on the chordal note.
I have no idea what this means, and she cannot give another explanation.
Does this mean I should play the appogiatura weaker than the chordal note?

Or how should I play cadences?
How do I express that the music is coming to a pause?

Also, how can understanding the structure of the music help my playing?

Thanks in advance.


Edited by Yuuki (06/20/13 07:46 PM)
_________________________
Working on:
Mozart Piano sonata in F http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthrea...%20%28seek.html
Tchaikovsky "May" http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthrea...ing%20advic.htm

Top
Ad 800 (Pearl River)
Pearl River World's Best Selling Piano
#2105479 - 06/20/13 08:01 PM Re: How to interpret music [Re: Yuuki]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5377
Loc: Philadelphia
This is a very broad topic. In terms of structure, you'd be looking for repetitive patterns, inner melodies, resolutions, etc. etc. etc. But there really is no "rule" to interpretation like the ascending/descending example you gave (which isn't always true, by the way).

What issues are you having with interpretation? Is there a specific piece/passage giving you trouble? Without hearing you play, it's difficult for us to narrow down what might be helpful to you. I'm sure there are members here who can write an entire dissertation on interpretation. I'm not one of them, but I can help you analyze your playing or a particular piece. smile
_________________________
Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.

Top
#2105493 - 06/20/13 09:58 PM Re: How to interpret music [Re: Yuuki]
Yuuki Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/21/11
Posts: 36
Loc: Tokyo
Thank you for the answer.

My problem is that I don't know what exactly "interpretation" is.
I don't know at I'm supposed to do.
Is it to make subtle changes in dynamics, articulation, and timbre which are not explicitly written in the score?
What goes on in the process of interpretation?
How do you relate your analysis to your playing?

My teacher says my playing is too "flat".
While I don't notice that I'm listening directly from the piano, I do see something is wrong (eg banging on chords) if I listen to a recording of my own playing.
But I don't know how to remedy this blandness.
So I think one question I have is what methods of interpretation there are, i.e. how to vary the quality of the sound.

I'll post a recording later.


Right now I'm playing Beethoven's 11 Bagatelles and Haydn's Sonata in g minor (Hob. XVI-44).
If it's possible, could I have an example of interpretation for one of these pieces, so I can understand interpretation better?
_________________________
Working on:
Mozart Piano sonata in F http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthrea...%20%28seek.html
Tchaikovsky "May" http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthrea...ing%20advic.htm

Top
#2105499 - 06/20/13 10:21 PM Re: How to interpret music [Re: Yuuki]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12215
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: Yuuki
Thank you for the answer.

My problem is that I don't know what exactly "interpretation" is.
I don't know at I'm supposed to do.
Is it to make subtle changes in dynamics, articulation, and timbre which are not explicitly written in the score?
What goes on in the process of interpretation?
How do you relate your analysis to your playing?

My teacher says my playing is too "flat".
While I don't notice that I'm listening directly from the piano, I do see something is wrong (eg banging on chords) if I listen to a recording of my own playing.
But I don't know how to remedy this blandness.
So I think one question I have is what methods of interpretation there are, i.e. how to vary the quality of the sound.

I'll post a recording later.


Right now I'm playing Beethoven's 11 Bagatelles and Haydn's Sonata in g minor (Hob. XVI-44).
If it's possible, could I have an example of interpretation for one of these pieces, so I can understand interpretation better?
Listen to some great opera singers, preferably of previous generations. It's even better if you can look at the score while you listen to see what they are doing that goes beyond what is on the page: hold a note a little bit longer to create tension and then release when you move on, not making running 8th notes all identical, things like that.

Also, listen to great pianists playing the pieces you are working on. What do they do? The more you hear, the more it will make sense to you. The stuff on the page is like a road map. It's supposed to get to to the place you want to be, but it doesn't show you what that place will look like with trees, buildings, and people. The music score will get you to the point where you know the notes and rhythms and basic musical markings, but once you get there you want to add your own interpretation, your own feeling, your own personality to it.

Try singing a melody in a comfortable octave from one of your pieces, and sing it as musically engaging as you can, as if you are trying to show it to a 5 year old because you think they will love it. But they're 5, so you have to overdo things to keep their attention. You may feel a bit foolish doing this at first, but it will really help you to understand the music on a more instinctual level.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

Top
#2105501 - 06/20/13 10:35 PM Re: How to interpret music [Re: Yuuki]
RUSS SHETTLE Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 01/14/11
Posts: 301
Loc: Brandywine, Maryland
Quote:
My teacher tells me that analyzing a piece should help me "interpret" the music.
But I don't know exactly what I'm supposed to do to "interpret" the music.


Listening first. I think it is about subtle changes, dynamics, articulation, all of it. How do you hear it being played as opposed to how you play a piece. You can give definitions to all this stuff but if you can't hear, sense realize or feel these things in music then you have no real connection to it. It's one thing to be able to play all the notes correctly. It's another to give what you play feeling. Music is an "ART FORM"! Play like it's coming from the heart. There are no instructions for this. What I'm talking about has to come from within.... you.

Quote:
My teacher says my playing is too "flat".
Exactly! Give it some "feeling" and listen to how it's done first.

Your teacher says to analyze a piece. To me, that means listening.
_________________________
Russ
Yamaha CP5
Casio PX130
Yamaha AP Upright

Top
#2105502 - 06/20/13 10:35 PM Re: How to interpret music [Re: Yuuki]
Cinnamonbear Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/09/10
Posts: 3991
Loc: Rockford, IL
Originally Posted By: Yuuki
My teacher tells me that analyzing a piece should help me "interpret" the music.
But I don't know exactly what I'm supposed to do to "interpret" the music.

I googled "music interpretation". one website said one rule was to "making a natural crescendo with ascending passages, and a decrescendo with descending passages".
what other rules are there?



Hi, Yukki! There are probably a million rules. And guess what? That example that you quoted is an illustration, yes, but not necessarily a "rule." But guess what else? I think it's easier than finding and following rules.

For me, "interpretation" means "breathing life into the music." In other words, I need to be careful to read what the composer put on the page, but it's up to me to make it come to life. It has nothing to do with following "rules of interpretation," though it cannot be accomplished without reading the music and all of the detailed notations. It has everything to do with using my imagination, intellect and emotions to connect with what I believe the composer is trying to relate, and then get my fingers to do the talking (or singing).

Reading the music is "little picture." Interpretation is "big picture." Interpretation is, "what is this piece trying to say? How does the piece get from point A to point B and say what it has to say--that is, what is it driving at here? And where is it going there?" When you start looking at it like that, you start to see things about the structure that will help you decide what to bring into the foreground and what to keep in the background when you play.

Hope that helps!

--Andy


Edited by Cinnamonbear (06/20/13 10:37 PM)
_________________________
I may not be fast,
but at least I'm slow.

Top
#2105515 - 06/20/13 11:06 PM Re: How to interpret music [Re: Yuuki]
Yuuki Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/21/11
Posts: 36
Loc: Tokyo
Thank you for the advices.

@Andy
Quote:
"what is this piece trying to say? How does the piece get from point A to point B and say what it has to say--that is, what is it driving at here? And where is it going there?"

This is exactly what my teacher tells me to think about, and what I do not understand.
Can you specify "what a piece is trying to say"?
What I thought of were things like the mood of the piece (melancholic, lively, etc) and speed (not necessarily the tempo stated at the beginning, but for example a section with a lot of 32nd notes would have a comparatively "faster" feel).
Is this in the right direction?
What are some other examples?

Also how does knowing the direction of a piece guide your performance?
Another thing my teacher always says and I do not understand is to feel "where the note leads to".
What should I do in mechanical terms (eg build a crescendo toward the goal) in order to create the sense of direction?

I now see there is no rule, but can you give an example?
_________________________
Working on:
Mozart Piano sonata in F http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthrea...%20%28seek.html
Tchaikovsky "May" http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthrea...ing%20advic.htm

Top
#2105523 - 06/20/13 11:50 PM Re: How to interpret music [Re: Yuuki]
gooddog Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 4841
Loc: Seattle area, WA
Welcome to the forum Yuuki!

A wonderful Russian pianist by the name of Anna Cal gave me this most valuable piece of advice: listen to opera. (Pretty much what Morodienne said.)Pay attention to when the singer takes a breath. These are probably the pauses you are looking for. Listen for how the singer stretches phrases - that's the rubato. Often there is a pause and slight lingering on the high notes, (more difficult to sing). Sing your music!

Many may not agree with me, but I think you should get out of your head and stop trying to analyze the music. Get into your heart, let yourself go and feel your music. Don't be afraid to over-express it. Your teacher can always rein you back in if you overdo it.

The so-called rule of "making a natural crescendo with ascending passages, and a decrescendo with descending passages" is pretty primitive. It applies to a lot of music but doesn't apply to all so I wouldn't adhere to it strictly.

My current teacher says it is important to have a larger view of the piece - understanding (on an emotional level) the longer phrases and where the piece is going and what the composer is trying to say. He also told me: in Romantic music, if there are repeated notes, you never play them alike. Each one is played a little differently.
_________________________
Best regards,

Deborah

Top
#2105526 - 06/21/13 12:05 AM Re: How to interpret music [Re: Yuuki]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5377
Loc: Philadelphia
EDIT: I may say a few things that have already been said. I started replying just after your response to me, but I got side-tracked by a work project, and took a couple hours to complete my post. Sorry about that!


Anytime, happy to have the discussion. smile

It's interesting you ask for that particular Haydn sonata. Here is a performance by a PW member who is a wonderful pianist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ks3DsMX_Arg.

There are a few ways to work on developing your ear/interpretation.

ACTIVE PROCESS:
One of the things you can do is record your playing, and then analyze it. Compare it to how you want it to sound. Take notes. Write in the score. Whatever you have to do to remind yourself to do something particular in a certain place. Then, go back to that place, and practice what it is you have to do to make happen what it is you want to happen.

When you feel you've gotten it where you want it, record it again. Listen again. Take more notes. See if you've really "gotten it", or if you have to make more changes/adjustments to how you hear it.

Repeat the process until you get the piece where you want it.


PASSIVE PROCESS:
Listen to a recording of a piece with the score in hand. Listen and see what the performer does with the piece, and try to anticipate where the music is going. What do you think should happen? What does the performer do? What would you do differently than the performer?


I always believe that, much like learning to read words requires picking up a book, learning to read music requires picking up a score. When we learn to read, someone teaches us the sounds to make, what they mean, and how to read them. When we learn to read music, the same process applies. What sounds need to be made? How do you "hear" the music? How do you get your fingers to do what it is you "hear"?

Incidentally, if that last question becomes a problem -- how to get your fingers to reproduce the sound -- then you don't actually have an interpretation problem. You have a technique issue. wink

Hope this helps. smile


Edited by Derulux (06/21/13 12:07 AM)
_________________________
Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.

Top
#2105577 - 06/21/13 04:54 AM Re: How to interpret music [Re: Yuuki]
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4263
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
Beethoven Bagatelles Opus 119

I’ve given a good look at the first page to be able
to make a more concrete suggestion on a set piece.

First of all, the piece starts in the key of A minor
at a quick allegretto tempo.

The RH bustles along at either 3 or 6 notes to the measure ...
while the LH throws in a rhythmic variation of

blocky chords
(eg. as in measures 1-4 and 9-10)
and single note outlines
(eg. as in measures 5-8 and 11-14)

Opus 119 is not considered “great shakes” in the masterpiece
order of things ... the 32 Sonatas being the true fountain.

Hoping the suggestion is of assistance.
kind regards in Tokyo, btb


Top
#2105581 - 06/21/13 05:26 AM Re: How to interpret music [Re: Yuuki]
joe80 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/30/09
Posts: 1438
Have a look at this series of videos.

They are amazing!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7PZEJ9CsBfM

Top
#2105588 - 06/21/13 06:24 AM Re: How to interpret music [Re: Yuuki]
wr Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 8027
Originally Posted By: Yuuki

...

For example, how should I play non-chordal tones like appogiaturas?
My teacher tells me that the "appogiaturas" should "lean" on the chordal note.
I have no idea what this means, and she cannot give another explanation.
Does this mean I should play the appogiatura weaker than the chordal note?

...



Rather than trying talk about interpretation in general, I'll try to talk about just this one thing a little bit...

Your teacher is relying on the literal translation of the Italian for appoggiatura - it actually means to lean on.

In music, what does that mean? Without going into specific examples, I think it still can be said in general that the (long) appoggiatura is a non-chordal note that occurs on the beat, and then the next note in the musical line moves to a chordal note (I'm sure the real scholars here will correct me if that's wrong).

The musical effect is that tension is created by the non-chordal note, and then the tension is released when the musical line moves to a chordal note. And the musical tension of the appoggiatura is enhanced by being on the beat.

Interpretation happens when you decide how much tension you want to put into an appoggiatura, and how it fits into the neighboring musical context. The range of possibility is huge - anything from dramatic and intense to something so subtle as to be barely perceptible.

The "leaning" part, to me, is about how one leans into the appoggiatura note by giving it a special emphasis, and then taking away that "leaning" emphasis on the next note.

But, prior to interpreting, you need to have an idea of how the musical line is being shaped by the tension and release that is created by the appoggiatura, so that you can judge what will be appropriate. And basically, you have to trust your ear for that, I think. If your ear has been educated by a lot of listening to classical music from the same era played by respected artists, it will have a good starting idea of what you need to do.

Top
#2105628 - 06/21/13 08:44 AM Re: How to interpret music [Re: wr]
Yuuki Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/21/11
Posts: 36
Loc: Tokyo
Thank you for the all replies.

I will definitely listen to opera singers, and will also check out the YouTube videos.
Are there any singers/pieces you would especially recommend listening to?

@Deborah
Quote:

Many may not agree with me, but I think you should get out of your head and stop trying to analyze the music. Get into your heart, let yourself go and feel your music. Don't be afraid to over-express it. Your teacher can always rein you back in if you overdo it.


Unfortunately, when I "let myself go", all my playing just becomes banging.
I feel that I'm expressing emotions with crescendos, but that's not what my teacher and the video tells me.
My recording sounds better when I don't let go of myself and have more control over my playing.
I think I have a connection problem with my hands and my mind.

@Andy
Thank you for the detailed advice.
I'll try out the method.
Quote:
Listen and see what the performer does with the piece, and try to anticipate where the music is going. What do you think should happen?

So the "direction" of the music is the anticipation?

Quote:

I always believe that, much like learning to read words requires picking up a book, learning to read music requires picking up a score. When we learn to read, someone teaches us the sounds to make, what they mean, and how to read them. When we learn to read music, the same process applies. What sounds need to be made? How do you "hear" the music? How do you get your fingers to do what it is you "hear"?

This analogy made me realize something important.
Maybe the reason I don't understand what interpretation is that I don't know the "meaning" of each sound.
I think I'd like to discuss this topic further.
Would saying that a non-chordal note has the meaning of "tension", "unrest", or "uneasy feeling" be correct?
It could be that the disassociation with sound and its meaning is the cause for my not being able to relate analysis to performance.

I would appreciate it if I could receive responses on this topic of "meaning" in sound.

@wr
Thank you for the explanation on appoggiaturas.
It helped me better understand what leaning meant as well as the effect created by appogiaturas.

I was planning to post my recording but I couldn't find the cable.
I will post one as soon as I find it.



Edited by Yuuki (06/21/13 08:46 AM)
_________________________
Working on:
Mozart Piano sonata in F http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthrea...%20%28seek.html
Tchaikovsky "May" http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthrea...ing%20advic.htm

Top
#2105634 - 06/21/13 08:59 AM Re: How to interpret music [Re: Yuuki]
bennevis Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5544
Originally Posted By: Yuuki

I will definitely listen to opera singers, and will also check out the YouTube videos.
Are there any singers/pieces you would especially recommend listening to?

@Unfortunately, when I "let myself go", all my playing just becomes banging.
I feel that I'm expressing emotions with crescendos, but that's not what my teacher and the video tells me.




He may not always elicit universal appeal, but Luciano Pavarotti is the epitome of the bel canto style of Italianate singing, and the way he phrases and shades his tone is second to none. And Maria Callas too, in her very different manner - especially in more passionate music - like Bellini's Casta diva (Norma).

And that's what you want to cultivate in your playing, especially of cantabile music like that in Chopin Nocturnes. Even phrasing a simple melody like that at the beginning of Mozart's K545 Sonata will benefit from knowing how to breathe, the direction of the melody, where it's heading, and how each phrase is answered by the next. Try singing it yourself and you'll get an idea.....

AS for 'letting yourself go', it's playing as you feel, without inhibitions - you don't shout non-stop when you sing, so you don't just bang away when you play. You might exaggerate the dynamics and rubato, but that's better than playing in a flat manner......

'Che gelida manina' (La Boheme) http://youtu.be/rpxXlhTP8os
'Casta diva' (Norma) http://youtu.be/7rjGwS20V94


Edited by bennevis (06/21/13 09:18 AM)
Edit Reason: links added
_________________________
"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

Top
#2105662 - 06/21/13 09:47 AM Re: How to interpret music [Re: Yuuki]
Cinnamonbear Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/09/10
Posts: 3991
Loc: Rockford, IL
Originally Posted By: Yuuki
Thank you for the advices.

@Andy
Quote:
"what is this piece trying to say? How does the piece get from point A to point B and say what it has to say--that is, what is it driving at here? And where is it going there?"

This is exactly what my teacher tells me to think about, and what I do not understand.
Can you specify "what a piece is trying to say"?
What I thought of were things like the mood of the piece (melancholic, lively, etc) and speed (not necessarily the tempo stated at the beginning, but for example a section with a lot of 32nd notes would have a comparatively "faster" feel).
Is this in the right direction?
What are some other examples?

Also how does knowing the direction of a piece guide your performance?
Another thing my teacher always says and I do not understand is to feel "where the note leads to".
What should I do in mechanical terms (eg build a crescendo toward the goal) in order to create the sense of direction?

I now see there is no rule, but can you give an example?


Hi, Yukki! I see you've already received a lot of good ideas from lots of people, including Derelux, who I think you may have confused with me. No big deal. If I'm going to be mistaken for anyone on Piano World, I'm very happy for it to be Derelux! grin

Anyway, I'll have more thoughts later, but I wanted to share this one quickly. I should have put it in my first post to you:

You are already interpreting the music. The moment that the printed notations on the page come into your eyes and out your fingers, YOU are the one doing the interpretation...

Have you ever read a storybook out loud to someone? Well, if you have, then you "interpreted" it. You gave it voice. Maybe there was an exciting part, and you used your voice to make the words sound suspenseful. Maybe you used the breathless dramatic --- pause. Maybe in a happy part, you even used your voice to laugh through the words a little. Maybe there was a lion who said something, so you made your voice growl through the words a little. And they all lived happily ever after-grrrr.

So, you are the interpreter. That's all there is to it. When music comes off the printed page and into the air because you are the one reading and playing, that music is coming THROUGH YOU.

So, who are you? What are you like? What are your hopes and dreams and fears? What are your strengths of character? What are your weaknesses? Who are you as a person? Don't answer that out loud, here, just think about it for a minute--because all of that comes out when you play. You can't hide it. And you should NOT hide it!!! laugh In fact, you must embrace who you are when you play the piano. That is how authentic, genuine music is made. One of the wonderful things about "interpretation" is that a piece of written music can be shared with all of the beauty of the music intended by the composer, but it is given the touch of eternal uniqueness by coming through you. Or me. Or anyone else who decides to play it--oh--I mean, "interpret" it. blush

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

Top
#2105684 - 06/21/13 10:40 AM Re: How to interpret music [Re: gooddog]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12215
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: gooddog
Many may not agree with me, but I think you should get out of your head and stop trying to analyze the music. Get into your heart, let yourself go and feel your music. Don't be afraid to over-express it. Your teacher can always rein you back in if you overdo it.
I completely agree. Looking for a list of rules on how to be expressive defeats the purpose of being expressive and will only continue to make your music sound "flat", even if you can make such a list and follow it to the letter.

Many people say that music is a universal language. It's not exactly a language, but in many ways it is like one. What does music communicate? Just notes and rhythms? Black dots on a page? Surely it's more than that. Certainly it can tell a story, but words are far more efficient at doing that. But something that sometimes words cannot fully do is communicate feeling or emotion. Music, however, does this very well - it speaks directly to the soul of the listener from the souls of the composer and the performer.

Right now, I'm guessing your music sounds flat because you are relying completely upon the notes on the page to communicate. And perhaps you actually do feel things while you are playing and are trying to get that out of your fingers, but you simply do not know how. So you ask for rules. I get that. But instead of rules, how about some techniques on how to be expressive, how to play what's on the page but also be more free with it so you can add your own feelings to that of the composer?

If you are interested, I learned these techniques and they have transformed my playing. Some may not like them, and that's OK too. Take what you will from it, and at first you may have to go too far and then come back to find a good balance.

www.musicalratio.com

This website describes in detail with musical examples to listen to on different techniques used by great musicians over the centuries. In recent times (the last 75 years or so) this has gone out of style, but I personally enjoy it. Feel free to PM me with any questions on this stuff:
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

Top
#2105693 - 06/21/13 11:02 AM Re: How to interpret music [Re: Yuuki]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12215
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
For some opera examples that I think show lots of musical expression:

Jerry Hadley: Donizetti, L'elisir D'amore - Una furtiva lagrima

Mario del Monaco: Bizet, Carmen - La fleur que tu m`avais jetée (check out the applause at the end!)

Renata Tebaldi: Puccini, Madama Butterfly - Un bel di vedremo

Maria Callas: Bellini, Norma - Casta diva
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

Top
#2105750 - 06/21/13 01:11 PM Re: How to interpret music [Re: Yuuki]
landorrano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2472
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: Yuuki

I think I have a connection problem with my hands and my mind.



Don't we all !!! smile

Top
#2105821 - 06/21/13 03:21 PM Re: How to interpret music [Re: Yuuki]
A Rebours Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/05/09
Posts: 222
Originally Posted By: Yuuki
My teacher tells me that analyzing a piece should help me "interpret" the music.
But I don't know exactly what I'm supposed to do to "interpret" the music.


Yuki,

I just came across a new book when I was at a music teachers conference in the US which will address your concerns in a straight forward way and get you started on understanding interpretation. It was just published in 2013.

The title of the book is:

Playing Beyond the Notes: A pianist's Guide to Musical Interpretation

Author: Deborah Rambo Sinn

Publisher: Oxford University Press, April 2013

You can get it at Amazon.com and they do have a preview of the actual contents of the book where you can see the actual topics she covers. Not too expensive for an Oxford University Press book.

I am going to buy a copy for myself.

A R
_________________________
Sauter 122 Masterclass (M-Line)

Top
#2105829 - 06/21/13 03:35 PM Re: How to interpret music [Re: Yuuki]
Brad Hoehne Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/22/11
Posts: 375
Loc: Ohio
I'd like to talk a little bit more about the intangibles of interpretation.

Interpretation is the art of conveying what you find meaningful in a performed work.

A good way to figure out how to interpret a piece of music is to listen and pay close attention to as many different recordings of it as you can. Study the score closely when at the piano.

The most important thing is to get the piece fundamentally down- that is, under your fingers. Of course, interpretation occurs while you are learning, but you can't truly give a good interpreted performance without mastering the technical details of a work.

As you study, you'll naturally find elements of the piece that you like, things that you take joy in. Figure out what little details, and what overall grand structures, you like, and determine how (within the guidelines of the written score) you want those elements to sound. Do you want to bring them out? Do you want them mixed in with the texture of the work.

Perhaps you'll find you appreciate a particularly beautiful melody. Play with it in isolation and figure out how to make it sound as beautiful as you can and then work on folding it back into rest of the piece. Or maybe you'll find a lovely counter-melody, hidden in the harmonic texture, something that seems amusing or unexpected. Maybe you might want to use subtle dynamics to draw it out.


Ask you work out what you like ask yourself questions: Do you like the piece light and delicate or lush and Pedal-y? Should the whole piece be that way? How would others play this? Should I follow their lead (usually a good idea) or strike out on my own? Should I just add a few small touches of my own to another's interpretation?

The possibilities are endless.

There have been, historically, certain ways of interpreting certain music that have been considered "tasteful" or "correct". It's always a good idea to learn what the great pianists and piano teachers of the past have thought about a work and how they thought it ought to be played. However, I don't think you have to play exactly like them for a work to sound meaningful or interesting. There's always room within a work to play around and "make it yours."

Also important is to >listen< to yourself play. Does what you're playing sound good to you? Or, when you hear your teacher or a recording of the work, do you like that sound better. There's nothing wrong with imitating someone else, especially in your formative years. There's an old saying "good artists borrow, great artists steal!" Since no one is exactly like anyone else, however, no matter how much you borrow or steal, there are always going to be elements that sound "like you."

Don't worry about what others think to a certain extent. Glenn Gould, for instance, was often criticized for his idiosyncratic "non-standard" manner of interpreting the piano literature (Bach, in particular, but pretty much anything he played was rather different than what had been done before). But I think that style was his greatness. Whether or not you liked how he played a given work (Brahms' Concerto at extremely slow tempo?) what he was doing had meaning >to him< and was certainly worth paying attention to. Better to be yourself, and express what you love about a piece of music, than to unhappily conform to what someone else thinks you >ought< to do.




Edited by Brad Hoehne (06/21/13 03:57 PM)
_________________________
1999 Petrof 125-111 (upright)
Casio Privia PX-330

Currently working on:
Chopin Etudes op 10 #12 "Revolutionary" and op 25 #2
Chopin Nocturne op 37 #2
Playing by ear and "filling out" pop tunes

Top
#2105878 - 06/21/13 05:22 PM Re: How to interpret music [Re: Yuuki]
Bluoh Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/20/11
Posts: 421
Loc: Canada
At a certain point, you just have to feel the music. What does it feel like? What does your mind think it should sound like? That's interpretation.

For example:

"Get off my chair."

If I say, "Get off my chair." in a gentle way and I'm smiling, then maybe I'm being playful and you don't really have to get off.

But if I say, "Get off my chair." loudly and sharply, then maybe I'm angry.

Or, if I say, "Get. Off. My. Chair." and my face is all red, then you should probably get off.

They're the same words, but if you say it differently, then the message will be different.

It's the same with music. People can play the same notes, but the way you play something will change what it means and how people will react.

Top
#2105879 - 06/21/13 05:23 PM Re: How to interpret music [Re: Brad Hoehne]
Cinnamonbear Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/09/10
Posts: 3991
Loc: Rockford, IL
Originally Posted By: Brad Hoehne
I'd like to talk a little bit more about the intangibles of interpretation.

Interpretation is the art of conveying what you find meaningful in a performed work.

A good way to figure out how to interpret a piece of music is to listen and pay close attention to as many different recordings of it as you can. Study the score closely when at the piano.

The most important thing is to get the piece fundamentally down- that is, under your fingers. Of course, interpretation occurs while you are learning, but you can't truly give a good interpreted performance without mastering the technical details of a work.

As you study, you'll naturally find elements of the piece that you like, things that you take joy in. Figure out what little details, and what overall grand structures, you like, and determine how (within the guidelines of the written score) you want those elements to sound. Do you want to bring them out? Do you want them mixed in with the texture of the work.

Perhaps you'll find you appreciate a particularly beautiful melody. Play with it in isolation and figure out how to make it sound as beautiful as you can and then work on folding it back into rest of the piece. Or maybe you'll find a lovely counter-melody, hidden in the harmonic texture, something that seems amusing or unexpected. Maybe you might want to use subtle dynamics to draw it out.


Ask you work out what you like ask yourself questions: Do you like the piece light and delicate or lush and Pedal-y? Should the whole piece be that way? How would others play this? Should I follow their lead (usually a good idea) or strike out on my own? Should I just add a few small touches of my own to another's interpretation?

The possibilities are endless.

There have been, historically, certain ways of interpreting certain music that have been considered "tasteful" or "correct". It's always a good idea to learn what the great pianists and piano teachers of the past have thought about a work and how they thought it ought to be played. However, I don't think you have to play exactly like them for a work to sound meaningful or interesting. There's always room within a work to play around and "make it yours."

Also important is to >listen< to yourself play. Does what you're playing sound good to you? Or, when you hear your teacher or a recording of the work, do you like that sound better. There's nothing wrong with imitating someone else, especially in your formative years. There's an old saying "good artists borrow, great artists steal!" Since no one is exactly like anyone else, however, no matter how much you borrow or steal, there are always going to be elements that sound "like you."

Don't worry about what others think to a certain extent. Glenn Gould, for instance, was often criticized for his idiosyncratic "non-standard" manner of interpreting the piano literature (Bach, in particular, but pretty much anything he played was rather different than what had been done before). But I think that style was his greatness. Whether or not you liked how he played a given work (Brahms' Concerto at extremely slow tempo?) what he was doing had meaning >to him< and was certainly worth paying attention to. Better to be yourself, and express what you love about a piece of music, than to unhappily conform to what someone else thinks you >ought< to do.


THAT ^^^ was a beautiful post, Brad! laugh

And THIS:

Originally Posted By: Brad Hoehne
[...] Interpretation is the art of conveying what you find meaningful in a performed work.[...]


...is a gem to treasure! thumb Thank you!

--Andy


Edited by Cinnamonbear (06/21/13 05:24 PM)
_________________________
I may not be fast,
but at least I'm slow.

Top
#2105940 - 06/21/13 07:54 PM Re: How to interpret music [Re: Cinnamonbear]
Yuuki Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/21/11
Posts: 36
Loc: Tokyo
Thank you so much everyone for the valuable advices & recommendations for videos/books/websites.
I've read all of them, and I appreciate it a lot.
Also, sorry for the confusion Andy and Derelux; I meant no offense.


First, I'd like to give an update on my situation.
I've decided to focus on two questions while playing:

1. (when a musical idea is repeated) how should I contrast this idea with the previous one?
eg: same chord but spread on a wider range -> more resonating timbre

2. what effect does it have?
eg: a piece with many non-chordal notes -> playfulness, original, coquettish

*Along this line, I became interested in the effects cadences have. For example, it is said that perfect cadences have a feeling of "conclusiveness" and "definiteness", while a plagal cadence evokes a more "peaceful" sense.
What effects do other cadences, or chords in general (such as the Neapolitan 6th or the diminished 7th code) have?
I know it ultimately depends on the context, but speaking generally, what am I supposed to feel for this chords?

Anyways, following Derulux's advice and listening to my recording, I *think* it sounds less flat than I had.
I realize that previously I was only guessing at the "right" sound. Now I think for myself, from reading the score, what effect it has on the ears, and how I should bring out that effect. And I also realized that this is a step towards relating analysis with performance.

@Brad
Quote:
Ask you work out what you like ask yourself questions: Do you like the piece light and delicate or lush and Pedal-y? Should the whole piece be that way? How would others play this? Should I follow their lead (usually a good idea) or strike out on my own? Should I just add a few small touches of my own to another's interpretation?

The possibilities are endless.

This was especially valuable advice for me, thank you very much.
I think one of my problem is that "my possibilities" are limited, which I hope to remedy by listening to recordings.
_________________________
Working on:
Mozart Piano sonata in F http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthrea...%20%28seek.html
Tchaikovsky "May" http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthrea...ing%20advic.htm

Top
#2105956 - 06/21/13 08:34 PM Re: How to interpret music [Re: Yuuki]
Quaver Pyjama Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/26/11
Posts: 114
Originally Posted By: Yuuki
Thank you for the answer.

My problem is that I don't know what exactly "interpretation" is.
I don't know at I'm supposed to do.
Is it to make subtle changes in dynamics, articulation, and timbre which are not explicitly written in the score?
What goes on in the process of interpretation?
How do you relate your analysis to your playing?

My teacher says my playing is too "flat".
While I don't notice that I'm listening directly from the piano, I do see something is wrong (eg banging on chords) if I listen to a recording of my own playing.
But I don't know how to remedy this blandness.
So I think one question I have is what methods of interpretation there are, i.e. how to vary the quality of the sound.

I'll post a recording later.


Right now I'm playing Beethoven's 11 Bagatelles and Haydn's Sonata in g minor (Hob. XVI-44).
If it's possible, could I have an example of interpretation for one of these pieces, so I can understand interpretation better?


Interpreting should be something like, playing a piece and making it the most special thing in the world for you (and for others too, but first for you).
Special like the sea, a waterfall, or a beautiful baby animal.
The score and all the markings are very important, they lead you to the beauty that the composer once idealized and felt when composing it.
The interpretation is natural once you play the music like something you love. Music with interpretation is like the world with the light of the sun.
If you only play the notes like a machine, everyone, including you, will only see the world through artificial light, cold and unnatural when compared to daylight.
It's very simple actually....

Top
#2105964 - 06/21/13 08:54 PM Re: How to interpret music [Re: Yuuki]
Bluoh Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/20/11
Posts: 421
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: Yuuki

*Along this line, I became interested in the effects cadences have. For example, it is said that perfect cadences have a feeling of "conclusiveness" and "definiteness", while a plagal cadence evokes a more "peaceful" sense.
What effects do other cadences, or chords in general (such as the Neapolitan 6th or the diminished 7th code) have?
I know it ultimately depends on the context, but speaking generally, what am I supposed to feel for this chords?

You know, putting more labels on those chords like that might be like intentionally putting on rose-coloured glasses.

Just go with it. Don't ask other people what you're supposed to feel, just feel what you feel and ask yourself about it.

Yes, the context matters a lot. But after a while, you hear the same chords over and over again, and sometimes you get the same feelings from hearing them.

That's not the same as telling yourself you "should" feel peaceful at plagal cadences and in turn that makes it feel peaceful.

Sticking preconceptions onto the chords isn't good for your own sake, because psychologically, you'll start to hear certain moods with those chords when it doesn't necessarily exist.

Top
#2105972 - 06/21/13 09:18 PM Re: How to interpret music [Re: Yuuki]
jdw Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/04/11
Posts: 1038
Loc: Philadelphia, PA
I'l confess that I haven't read the whole thread, but--

I think of interpretation as finding what I love about the piece. What makes you want to play it, what do you most love to hear? As I think others have said, I would experiment with different ways of playing. You're not looking for rules, but for things that bring you delight--and these might change with different iterations of the same piece.

Above all, enjoy it!
_________________________
1989 Baldwin R
Currently working on:
Grieg, Papillon
Mozart, K 330
Brahms, Op. 118 no. 2

Top
#2106003 - 06/21/13 11:11 PM Re: How to interpret music [Re: Yuuki]
wr Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 8027
The advice to listen to classical singers is good advice - if you can bear to listen to them. Personally, I have problems along those lines (e.g., Pavorotti's voice makes me want to go hide under some piece of heavy furniture until it is over).

But, luckily, listening to string and wind players is just as good for learning how to make artful musical lines that are expressive. In one way, the strings are even better than singers, because they don't have the physical limitation of needing to breathe, and neither does the piano.

It is also useful to listen to music played on the keyboards that have little or no note-to-note dynamic variation, such as harpsichords and organs, because the good players are extremely adept at using rhythmic inflection (agogics) to convey musical meaning. And that skill is certainly transferable to playing the piano.

Top
#2106010 - 06/21/13 11:32 PM Re: How to interpret music [Re: wr]
BruceD Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 18291
Loc: Victoria, BC
Originally Posted By: wr
The advice to listen to classical singers is good advice - if you can bear to listen to them.[...]


Fortunately, (I guess) this obtuse remark has left me speechless!

Originally Posted By: wr
But, luckily, listening to string and wind players is just as good for learning how to make artful musical lines that are expressive. In one way, the strings are even better than singers, because they don't have the physical limitation of needing to breathe, and neither does the piano.


I have no idea what you hear or what you want to hear when you listen to instrumental music, but if you can enjoy listening to a string player or a pianist whose music doesn't "breathe," then I can't imagine that you are even listening to "music" as most of us define the term.
_________________________
BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190

Top
#2106019 - 06/22/13 12:00 AM Re: How to interpret music [Re: BruceD]
argerichfan Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8934
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
Originally Posted By: BruceD
...then I can't imagine that you are even listening to "music" as most of us define the term.

Oh Bruce, what would my life be without vocal music. I was captivated by this the other day:

Didn't Chopin adore the Bellini operas? Of course he did, they inspired him, and one can certainly see why. I saw I Puritani a few years ago, and there wasn't one dull moment.

More delectable Lehar:
_________________________
Jason

Top
#2106067 - 06/22/13 02:33 AM Re: How to interpret music [Re: Yuuki]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5377
Loc: Philadelphia
Originally Posted By: Yuuki
This analogy made me realize something important.
Maybe the reason I don't understand what interpretation is that I don't know the "meaning" of each sound.
I think I'd like to discuss this topic further.
Would saying that a non-chordal note has the meaning of "tension", "unrest", or "uneasy feeling" be correct?
It could be that the disassociation with sound and its meaning is the cause for my not being able to relate analysis to performance.

I would appreciate it if I could receive responses on this topic of "meaning" in sound.

In my honest and unabashed opinion, you are too focused on the scientific study of how to perfectly reproduce some "interpretation" that is standard, defineable, and (so you seem to think) beyond your grasp. I think that's holding you back.

The key to this is learning to make mistakes. First, make the mistake. Then, identify the mistake. Then, figure out what needs to change. Then you can correct the mistake. But, to me, you're still stuck at the starting line asking how to run, instead of just putting one foot in front of the other and giving it a go. wink

I used a reading analogy before. Allow me to continue it. We don't learn to read by first understanding what sounds we're making. As babies, we make sounds. We even say words. We have no idea what they mean. Even before we develop our sense of language, we begin to understand what different inflections might mean emotionally. We understand anger. We understand fear. We understand compassion. But we still have no idea what people are saying. Then, as we develop, we learn to find the meaning of the sounds we're uttering. Finally, we put the inflection with the sounds and we're speaking.

Long story short, you need to do more than think. Once you've done, you can analyze what you did. But if you don't do, you can't figure out what's going wrong. More doing and less thinking might help a lot. In other words, don't think about practicing without actually practicing. wink

On another note, the reason you may not get specific answers to your questions is because you're asking for concrete "rules" in a fluid system. Can I fundamentally break down wave mechanics and gravimetry to explain why ocean waves move the way they do? Yes. Will it help you understand what it feels like to stand chest-deep in the ocean? Nope.

Originally Posted By: Cinnamonbear
Hi, Yukki! I see you've already received a lot of good ideas from lots of people, including Derelux, who I think you may have confused with me. No big deal. If I'm going to be mistaken for anyone on Piano World, I'm very happy for it to be Derelux! grin

Thank you for the flattery, but I wouldn't wish me on anybody! grin

Great points, by the way. smile

Bluoh- also a great post. Yuuki, reread this post. It's not about what you say. It's about how you say it. So, you have to decide how you want a passage to sound, and then make it sound that way.

To your two questions:

1. Sometimes you won't. It depends. What do you want to say differently the second time around?

2. What effect do you want it to have?

Quote:
Anyways, following Derulux's advice and listening to my recording, I *think* it sounds less flat than I had.
I realize that previously I was only guessing at the "right" sound. Now I think for myself, from reading the score, what effect it has on the ears, and how I should bring out that effect. And I also realized that this is a step towards relating analysis with performance.

Great! I'm glad you've gotten something out of it. smile

If you can post the contrasting recordings, we may be able to offer more specific advice/direction on how you can progress. I won't give "answers", though, because there really aren't any. Only direction. Think of it like traveling between two cities, except there's no highway. All you could tell someone is, "Go that way." What steps the person takes, which way they go around trees, what foot they start with, is all up to them. wink
_________________________
Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.

Top
Page 1 of 2 1 2 >

Moderator:  Brendan, Kreisler 
What's Hot!!
Christmas Header
Christmas Decorations - Piano World Headquarters 2014
-------------------
The December Free Piano Newsletter
-------------------
Forums Rules & Help
-------------------
ADVERTISE
on Piano World

The world's most popular piano web site.
-------------------
PIANO BOOKS
Interesting books about the piano, pianists, piano history, biographies, memoirs and more!
(ad) Yamaha CP Music Rest Promo
Yamaha CP Music Rest Promo
(ad) HAILUN Pianos
Hailun Pianos - Click for More
Ad (Seiler/Knabe)
Seiler Pianos
(125ad) Dampp Chaser
Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver
(ad) Lindeblad Piano
Lindeblad Piano Restoration
(ad) Piano Music Sale - Dover Publications
Piano Music Sale
Sheet Music Plus (125)
Sheet Music Plus Featured Sale
New Topics - Multiple Forums
Like Someone In Love - a rhythmic approach
by marcuslchoi
12/20/14 12:43 PM
mp11
by mike2014
12/20/14 11:42 AM
Merry Christmas from TromboneAl
by TromboneAl
12/20/14 10:26 AM
Odd sound effect on old upright
by 661-Pete
12/20/14 06:38 AM
Define "atmospheric" in piano music
by Pianolism
12/20/14 06:18 AM
Forum Stats
77371 Members
42 Forums
160013 Topics
2349836 Posts

Max Online: 15252 @ 03/21/10 11:39 PM
Gift Ideas for Music Lovers!
Find the Perfect Gift for the Music Lovers on your List!
Visit our online store today.

Visit our online store for gifts for music lovers

 
Help keep the forums up and running with a donation, any amount is appreciated!
Or by becoming a Subscribing member! Thank-you.
Donate   Subscribe
 
Our Piano Related Classified Ads
|
Dealers | Tuners | Lessons | Movers | Restorations | Pianos For Sale | Sell Your Piano |

Advertise on Piano World
| Subscribe | Piano World | PianoSupplies.com | Advertise on Piano World | Donate | Link to Us | Classifieds |
| |Contact | Privacy | Legal | About Us | Site Map | Free Newsletter | Press Room |


copyright 1997 - 2014 Piano World ® all rights reserved
No part of this site may be reproduced without prior written permission