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#956704 - 07/21/05 07:43 AM Congrats! We just made history ("Fur Elise","Moonlight" by Beethoven)
Vladimir Dounin Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/15/05
Posts: 3
Loc: Canada
Congratulations! We just made history. (“For Elise”, “Moonlight” by Beethoven).

Dear Colleagues,

First of all, please allow me to congratulate each of you who answered my questions, as well as this wonderful Forum and my self, because in the last week we altogether started at least a new chapter in the history of music and, maybe, even a new era!

I am more than serious, let me, please, show only a few reasons to have said like that:

1. Never before in history the information about the most elusive substance of music – the individual volume of each given note in relation to the previous note and the following note (hereafter shall be called “Note Strength”) – has been transmitted (sent), received, processed and sent back in plain text, without any real sound at all.
(Even more - it was done with a precise accuracy!)

I am especially pleased to announce this because many high-ranked specialists have told me that this is impossible in principle. Fortunately, they have been no more right than the renowned scientists who “had convinced” (it is a real, well known historical fact) society that flight on any apparatus heavier than air was absolutely impossible, and they did it not before but AFTER the Wright brothers had already crossed the Atlantic.

Our first tests were as short and simple as the first in history audio recording (“Mary Had A Little Lamb”, performed by Mr. T. A. Edison himself) and the first Radio – Message (“SOS”). However, the first short step opens endless ways to new horizons. Look at only a few randomly chosen unprecedented opportunities:

2. Literally tomorrow (because everything is done except anti-piracy protection) you can download a new software “Music teacher”. Please, switch on your imagination! Let us say you have decided to learn our beloved “Fur Elise” by Beethoven. Your PC invites you to choose the “base-model” out of 100 top rated recordings. E.g. your choice is “Vladislav Tashkenazy” because you like his conception as a whole. However you are unhappy with some details of this famous recording.

Therefore you press “Edit”. What can be different in Piano Music? – Only 3 things: Pitch, Timing and Note Strength. (Let us mention “Damper” and “Piano” pedals as well but they are not engaged in this particular software yet, it will be done after tomorrow).

Now we have to edit “Pitch”, because Tashkenazy recorded D seven times instead of Beethoven’s E (at the end of each “sentence”, like bars 7, 15, 29 etc.) You have to replace all of them with “E” and to add the missed “C” at the final resolution of the piece.

Your reason for this action is this: Beethoven could not be illiterate in Harmony (just because his and Mozart’s music are the basis of the Classical Harmony) and write the resolution of the Seventh of D7 in the “up” direction instead of the legal resolution “down”. Moreover, he could not leave this “seventh” unresolved at all at the end. Beethoven’s autograph and the very first edition prove it. By the way, isn’t it a shame, in your opinion, for the great Mr. Tashkenazy to choose the faulty edition for his recording? We know that he graduated from the best Conservatory and had a really great teacher G. Althaus.

Your next step is “Timing”. In the bar 45 (the first bar of F-Major episode) you prefer to brake the F-Major “on” beat instead of “before”, because the grace notes were not crossed by Beethoven.

The last correction is “Note Strength” (not the volume of the music in whole, of all notes together). You prefer to make more prominent the lower voice in bb. 52 and 54 and to play more shiny the entire top notes in this episode. Now everything is done.

The next step is “Preview” (“Pre-audition”). You have to check whether you are happy with the result of your corrections or not – your PC plays for you back “your” variant of “Fur Elise”. In fact this variant is already a unique piece of the art (nobody played exactly like this yet) and belongs only to you, so you can claim even the “author rights” on it. After you have auditioned and approved your own way to perform or done some other correction – you press the button “Save”.

From this moment on, your PC listens to your practice and prints or displays each time the note-text with all your mistakes (discrepancies with YOUR plan) marked in red color: wrong notes, timing, note strength (similar to the “Spelling Check” in “Microsoft Word”). Undoubtedly, you can change your “performing plan” in your PC at any time.

Isn’t it great to listen to your self at any the time “from the audience’s seats” and be absolutely objective without the influence of your daily tiredness, irritation, nervousness, and mere forgetting of details of your plan? Now each of us will be able to afford lessons with the best professors on a daily basis (as long as their recordings are available for your PC). Good luck in bringing YOUR plan of performance to life!
Would you like to download this software? – Let me know.

3. From now on each composer can indicate the desired strength of any note accurately instead of taking chances that performers probably will be able to understand the author’s intentions. The performers, in turn, do not need to guess anymore what exactly the composer meant (at least in some tricky spots).

4. Instead of the quite common situation “blind under the guidance of blind” each student can submit his “Plan of Performing” of any piece and discuss it with the teacher of any level or even get approval/corrections from highly qualified board. As a result, s/he will know “how to play” in all the details BEFORE even one hour of his/her time was spent for inefficient exercising.

Inefficient - because it is simply impossible to work effectively without being aware of the direction one wants to go and what exactly is the goal? Presently, the majority of musicians are using the time-consuming “trial-and-error method” instead. Teachers will profit also from the unprecedented opportunity to learn and teach from a complete disclosure of all artistic details of any performance as long as the recording of this performance is available on their PC’s.

5. A new scientific field – theory and comparative history of piano performing - will come into musical schools and universities with oceans of researches and dissertations. “Any science is as much science as it can be described mathematically".

Are you sure that Math and Music have nothing in common? Okay, I will not remind you that our A1 is simply 440 vibration per second as well as A2 –880, that each of our notes is 2/1, 1/1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, etc. I will only refer you to the excellent education system of ancient Greece and Rome: any student of the math faculty was a musician automatically – music was a substantial part of the math syllabus.

6. If it is so easy (now) to pass on all the fine details of your artistic vision to your students, then it will be even easier to pass the same ideas into a fully obedient computer. And your Yamaha’s “Disklavier” will play perfectly any piece of any difficulty exactly in the way you suggest, even in the way that human can not dream about because of their limited nature.

7. Composers will definitely exploit this feature – they will write an absolutely new kind of music designed specially “for computerized performing”, without observing of all the human limitations.

8. What is wrong in the suggestion that maybe in the future the computer will play piano (physically) more often than humans? Is it disturbing for us today that no single book in our libraries is written by the hand of human – all of them are just printed by “stupid and insensitive machines”, by robots?

However, nobody sees here any reason to say that the human soul, thoughts and feelings have disappeared from the books because of this. All of these three are still living in each book (if it is a good one, of course). Why mustn’t the same logic be applied to music?

To understand the real significance of our tiny event and the fascinating future which INEVITABLY will follow, (even if all of us have not wanted it) we have to look back.

Perhaps, music is as old as humankind itself. However, we will never know the music performed at the solemn openings of Egyptian pyramids or during the triumphal closing ceremonies of Ancient Olympics. Their music was not written down not because it was really impossible to do so at their time, but just because the idea of writing down music never happened to strike anybody’s head. The total absurdity of such suggestion was so obvious for everyone, that poets proudly declared: "To describe the beauty of (their) fair lady by words is as impossible as to write music on the paper!"

However, after thousands years of musical illiteracy, the day came when somebody invented the way to make visual musical Pitch (frequency) using specially shaped crochets. Since then, we can see at least something in the darkness of the musical past. However, the real dawn of a new era in music came later, when man invented the way to visualize Timing as well. Could you imagine anything in the present musical world without this upgrade?

E.g., let us try (imaginatively) to learn or teach Prelude and Fugue by Shostakovich. How long would it take for students to "catch by ear" and memorize the right pitch and timing of each note and then play back this super-complicated piece if no script was available? If we want a decent level of accuracy, then the majority of the teachers would say that even a hundred years would not be enough for this single work. I can only join them in this estimation.

The invention of musical literacy has opened unprecedented opportunities. However, is the present musical notation perfect or at least satisfactory? No, not at all.
Music is a language based on correlations between tones. Any of these musical tones has 3 dimensions: Pitch, Timing and Note Strength (=INDIVIDUAL volume of each particular note). However, the existing system of musical notation provides an accurate indication only for Pitch and Timing, but completely ignores the Note Strength. (Except some rare indications of accents or sforzando, but even they are unclear: to which particular note in a chord we have to attribute them).
We have no confidence regarding each note - whether it should be played louder or softer in relation to the previous and the following note, and by how much? For example, between just two random consecutive notes, or between two notes in particular chord: which one of the two should be softer or louder? No single existing textbook will answer these questions either.

At the same time, any musician has to “answer” these questions practically as many times as there are notes that he/she has to play. Since all pianists play (at least should play) the same notes on the same beat, it is obvious that the different individual volumes of the same notes make the only difference between the best and the worst pianist in the world. Any (sometimes even the smallest) violation of the musical rules and laws: wrong pitch, timing etc., ruins the music. And any examiner can confirm the fact that wrong correlation in volume between notes can be as annoying as wrong pitch or timing. "Let any pianist play for me not one, but two notes and I can say immediately whether this is a good musician or a bad one." (H.Neuhaus)

Proper stressing or softening in music is as important as the proper stressing in the words of any language. (Nobody will understand even very familiar words with wrong stressing such as: AmerIca , TorontO, SonAtina, etc. Similarly, no one will understand or enjoy music with wrong stressing or softening either).
However, this situation changes dramatically if we have a very simple (even for 5-7year old beginners) method based on an accurate indication of note strength of any given note in a chord or melody. This method provides the same accuracy for Note Strength as it has been provided for Pitch and Timing. Introduction of this method does not take long: all that we have to do is to "calibrate" our students’ and our own ears in the same way. There are many variants of "dynamics scale" and all of them work. Let us look at one of them:
It is based on an analogy with the Celsius temperature scale (from zero to one hundred degrees). One hundred degrees corresponds to the maximum volume, and zero – to silence. It seems difficult to define one degree but in fact it is not: one degree is the smallest difference in volume that we can feel. (Feel, not “hear”, because we do it with our fingers as well, and students understand and “feel” it better.)
To teach a student to use this "dynamics scale", we ask him/her to play several pairs of notes with exactly the same volume. After the student has done it faultlessly, we ask him/her to play the same pairs of notes with the tiniest difference between them that he/she can feel/hear. Now that we’ve got the "minimal step" in the volume scale, all the rest is simple and logical: two degrees, three and so on. Even the very beginners do it with amazing accuracy. It proves that Mother Nature has given us a wonderful instrument for these tiny gradations.

The next step is to write the proper "temperature" (at least in all the complicated spots of the piece) and our work is done. Any "uncivilized" student turns into a sophisticated professional instantly.

Accomplished musicians do not need detailed and accurate indications of the volume: they have their gift, intuition and culture (from their education and experience) instead. Unfortunately, not everyone is gifted, accomplished, educated and experienced at the same time. The accurate indication of note strength effectively fills the gap between "the intuition of the gifted" and the perfect vacuum of musical knowledge in many students.
The accurate indication of Note Strength gives all that is necessary to play beautifully. A good mother does not teach her kids how to play outdoors; she knows that the kids will never remember her instructions for more than 5 minutes and always will play in their own way. Therefore, she insists on only a few things that “should not be done under any circumstances”. (E.g. “Newer play the ball on the road”!)

The same idea has inspired a few short and easy rules based on the accurate indication of Note Strength: “How to avoid some typical mistakes in musical performing". (20 - 30 of these rules cover roughly 50% of such mistakes and work for any music that students will play in their lives. After the student has learned a practical implementation of these rules, all the new pieces will need sometimes only 1-3 new rules for each, and quite often no new rules at all).

Even very beginners can play wisely, with decent, convincing phrasing after a few simple and easy rules, symbols or numbers have turned them on the right path. However, the best news is that after a short period of time students no longer need all these numbers or symbols (a kind of "Dynamics Alphabet"), because they have understood the basic logic of the musical language. Now they can apply the same rules to each similar situation in other pieces of different styles.

This method allows the student to look for the first time at any score and write (or imagine) immediately, WITHOUT playing or singing, the proper volume for each note in any voice/part or chord. Traditional teachers usually refuse to fulfil such an assignment and insist that it is impossible in principle. However, it definitely does not mean that they do not know the proper Note Strengths – many of them can play very beautifully, so they DO know it practically. But their knowledge is SUBCONSCIOUS, and they can not express it in words. This method will help them to do it easily.

This method is very helpful in immigrant countries such as Canada and the USA. I have worked with many Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, African, and other languages speaking students without knowing 10 words of their languages and they (without knowing English or any of my languages) have fulfilled all of my instructions. This system has proved to be extremely useful in "non-standard" situations: when I was teaching blind students, working with groups of children and individuals starting from the age of 3, etc.

This method is especially valuable nowadays. The method is perfectly compatible with modern technologies, recently developed software, and scientific and musical equipment. Successful introduction of this method together with technical innovations can ultimately boost the whole musical culture and bring high musical standards to anyone who loves music.

I have been using this method for over 40 years and it has worked equally well for conservatory and university students, international opera stars, competition winners, and for absolutely uneducated people. (We always had to invite them for our opera and oratorio productions, when I worked as an opera and resident chorus master.)

Almost everyone around us has tried (at least once in a lifetime) to make friends with music, and almost all of them have failed and said "never again" after their contact with our existing musical pedagogy. Why? It has happened because we could not teach them (before) simply and reliably. Now, we can, and we no longer need to lose 99% of our potential students.
I realize that for many of us it sounds too good to be true – any conventional teacher should “know perfectly well that it is impossible”. Therefore, I invite everybody to have a look at this method in action (absolutely free) at any time.

Vladimir Dounin.
Vladimir Dounin

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#956705 - 07/22/05 06:05 AM Re: Congrats! We just made history ("Fur Elise","Moonlight" by Beethoven)
***musical princess*** Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/15/05
Posts: 537
Loc: Newcastle, England
Jeez, how long did it take you to write that. I copied it into Word and did a word count - It's 2,997 words long!! And it took up six pages!! You must have a lot of time on your hands. I only got halfway through but it seemed very interesting what you were saying. Sadly my attention span is not long enough to read a computer screen for that long, though.

x Caroline x

#956706 - 07/27/05 03:51 PM Re: Congrats! We just made history ("Fur Elise","Moonlight" by Beethoven)
Ancient Upright Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 384

Remember, I'm pullin for you, we're all in this together
-From a TV Show

#956707 - 07/27/05 04:17 PM Re: Congrats! We just made history ("Fur Elise","Moonlight" by Beethoven)
mound Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/10/04
Posts: 782
Loc: Rochester, NY
this guy posted the same thing on pianoforum.net (err, now pianostreet) - it ellicited a great deal of response. mostly negative. I'm glad to see nobody is really paying attention to it here.
"You look hopefully for an idea and then you're humble when you find it and you wish your skills were better. To have even a half-baked touch of creativity is an honor."
-- Ernie Stires, composer

#956708 - 07/28/05 11:14 AM Re: Congrats! We just made history ("Fur Elise","Moonlight" by Beethoven)
pianocliff Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/05/05
Posts: 398
Loc: Washington, DC Metro
He actually posted the same thing to like 20 online forums. Anything from Math or Physics to Piano...This guy really needs a vacation ...heehee



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