What are performance conventions?

Posted by: SamXu

What are performance conventions? - 10/05/12 02:42 AM

Quoth the examiner "There was facility and energy in the playing and some good memory work. Greater accuracy and understanding performance conventions is needed, and at time, a more coherent approach to rhythm is necessary to gain this award! This award is within your reach!"

What on earth are performance conventions?
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: What are performance conventions? - 10/05/12 02:59 AM

Tell us what composers (and preferably also pieces) were played, and we can answer better.

As a general thing (since we don't know more yet), I think all we can say is that it refers to being "stylistically correct," and/or grossly disobeying important things in the score.

Like: Using too much pedal in Bach. (And of course some people think using any pedal is too much.)

Or, doing Wagnerian crescendos and phrasings in Mozart.

Or, ending a Mozart slow movement with a dramatic flourish, punctuated by jumping up from the bench and throwing the arms in the air in triumph. I think most people would say that goes against "performance conventions." grin

Or, using "terrace dynamics" in Chopin. (What's terrace dynamics?? Well, it's a "performance convention." ha
But for certain types of music more than others.)

Or, consistently using tempos and/or dynamics that are different from what's written and different from what almost anyone in their right mind ever does.

Etc. etc.

Tell us what the pieces were, and we can say better.

P.S. For examples of not following "performance conventions," check out Glenn Gould playing just about anything but Bach. Or, in the minds of some, even Bach, maybe especially Bach.
Posted by: SamXu

Re: What are performance conventions? - 10/05/12 03:42 AM

Well, I played Bach's Partita no2 Sinfonia, Beethoven's op2 no1, Brahms Intermezzo from Ballades op 10, Debussy's broulliard from preludes book2 and Messiaen's Regard de l'etoile from Vingt Regards. I think I played them all according to 'performance conventions'.
Posted by: SamXu

Re: What are performance conventions? - 10/05/12 03:43 AM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C

Or, doing Wagnerian crescendos and phrasings in Mozart.

Or, ending a Mozart slow movement with a dramatic flourish, punctuated by jumping up from the bench and throwing the arms in the air in triumph. I think most people would say that goes against "performance conventions." grin


HAHAHA
Posted by: ando

Re: What are performance conventions? - 10/05/12 04:40 AM

I must say, when I saw the term "performance conventions" I just thought of things like:
- how you approach the stage
- how you acknowledge your audience
- how you seat yourself
- how you look when you perform
- how you dress
- how you bow at the end

those sorts of things. I don't think performance conventions can be applied to music itself without making some dangerously broad and limiting statements about interpreting music.
Posted by: ChopinAddict

Re: What are performance conventions? - 10/05/12 05:35 AM

Yes, I think ando got it right.
Posted by: dolce sfogato

Re: What are performance conventions? - 10/05/12 08:30 AM

sometimes it's a euphemism for 'my personal taste'
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: What are performance conventions? - 10/05/12 08:43 AM

I have never heard "performance convention" apply to the performer's on stage demeanor(dress, how they walk on stage, bow, etc.). I think stage presence would be one typical term for describing those things.

I think the standard meaning of performance convention refers to musical conventions, i.e. generally agreed upon/accepted ideas about performing music. These could be musical conventions regarding specific periods in classical music, specific composers, or music in general.

It is impossible to figure out precisely what the examiner meant without asking him or at least hearing the performance under question.
Posted by: Emanuel Ravelli

Re: What are performance conventions? - 10/05/12 11:36 AM

Originally Posted By: ando
I must say, when I saw the term "performance conventions" I just thought of things like:
- how you approach the stage
- how you acknowledge your audience
- how you seat yourself
- how you look when you perform
- how you dress
- how you bow at the end

those sorts of things. I don't think performance conventions can be applied to music itself without making some dangerously broad and limiting statements about interpreting music.



I have the same understanding of the term as Ando. Along those lines, there's one difference between U.S. and Europenan "conventions" that has always puzzled me. Why do pianists in our country take the stage from the left wing and make their introductory bow from the front of the piano, while most Europeans I've seen enter from the other side and bow behind the piano?
Posted by: BDB

Re: What are performance conventions? - 10/05/12 01:13 PM

George Antheil claimed that his innovation for entering the stage was to pull out his revolver and place it conspicuously on the piano.
Posted by: LadyChen

Re: What are performance conventions? - 10/05/12 01:18 PM

Debussyist -- did the examiner comment specifically on the performance of any of your pieces? If so, that may provide some clarity. The comment you shared with us seems very general.

(My interpretation of performance convention is playing a piece stylistically appropriate.)
Posted by: Vid

Re: What are performance conventions? - 10/05/12 01:35 PM

It sounds like the examiner was trying to somehow justify whatever evaluation they made of your performance. As for performer conventions I think one dispenses with entering, bowing and all that in an exam setting? If not then those things should be explicitly laid out as specific requirements.
Posted by: Ferdinand

Re: What are performance conventions? - 10/06/12 12:44 AM

As I understand the term, performance conventions are musical nuances that are customary but which are are not explicit in the score.
Posted by: SamXu

Re: What are performance conventions? - 10/06/12 02:18 AM

Well, for the Bach, they said that ' A musical approach and sincere preparation is evident'. For the beethoven to 'be much more careful with notational accuracy'. Brahms: An involved performance with some broad tonal colours. Pulse needs to be more constant in main section.' Debussy: Care needs to be taken with subtlety and colours and precise reading of dynamics'. Messiaen: A dramatic performance overall - rubato marking misapplied to the entrance theme - be careful.Subtleties need attention.'
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: What are performance conventions? - 10/06/12 02:27 AM

Originally Posted By: Ferdinand
As I understand the term, performance conventions are musical nuances that are customary but which are are not explicit in the score.

So, now we've got 3 meanings! grin

I'm going with the meaning that Plover and I gave. (Yes, the two of us actually took it basically the same way....well why not.) ha

I realized that the phrase could be taken to refer to what Ando said, and my silly thing about the end of a slow movement of Mozart was sort of a riff on that -- but I wasn't imagining that the phrase might really have referred to that. But maybe it did.

I think the third meaning -- i.e. what Ferdinand said -- would be a more esoteric thing than what might have been meant. It could have that meaning in some contexts, but I think rarely, and not here.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: What are performance conventions? - 10/06/12 02:33 AM

Originally Posted By: Debbusyist
Well, for the Bach, they said that ' A musical approach and sincere preparation is evident'. For the beethoven to 'be much more careful with notational accuracy'. Brahms: An involved performance with some broad tonal colours. Pulse needs to be more constant in main section.' Debussy: Care needs to be taken with subtlety and colours and precise reading of dynamics'. Messiaen: A dramatic performance overall - rubato marking misapplied to the entrance theme - be careful.Subtleties need attention.'

While this doesn't make it greatly clear what exactly was meant by performance conventions, there are a few things that seem to hint at what Plover and I said: the "rubato-misapplied" thing about the Messiaen, also the "subtleties," and the whole thing about the Debussy.

BTW I don't know what was meant about "notational accuracy" in the Beethoven. Did they mean that you seemed to have misread a lot of notes? Or maybe you're not sure about that either -- and I wouldn't blame you.
Posted by: ChopinAddict

Re: What are performance conventions? - 10/06/12 02:34 AM

I guess you will have to ask your teacher, Debussyist... (although maybe without the "what on earth are... laugh )
Obviously the meaning was not clear if people have so different opinions. I first agreed with ando and still do, but it could also be what other members said (I agree with that too...)
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: What are performance conventions? - 10/06/12 02:37 AM

Originally Posted By: ChopinAddict
Obviously the meaning was not clear if people have so different opinions....

Well, I do think the general meaning is pretty clear. smile

The specifics are harder to know, but we get some hints in the additional thing that Debussyist posted.
Posted by: ChopinAddict

Re: What are performance conventions? - 10/06/12 02:57 AM

I hadn't seen her last post...
Asking her teacher would still be a good idea though. smile After all, he/she is the one who will have to help her improve and correct that weakness pointed out by the examiner.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: What are performance conventions? - 10/06/12 02:59 AM

Originally Posted By: ChopinAddict
....Asking her teacher would still be a good idea though. smile

Sure -- it was always the best idea! smile
Posted by: SamXu

Re: What are performance conventions? - 10/06/12 06:59 PM

Yeah, I'll be discussing the result with my teacher this tuesday. :P gonna be a verrryy interesting lesson...
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: What are performance conventions? - 10/06/12 07:12 PM

....and remember, there's TWO questions within it!

-- What did the phrase mean? i.e. what Plover and I said, or what Ando and others said, or what Ferdinand said.

-- And of course, what specifically might it have meant about your playing.
Posted by: LadyChen

Re: What are performance conventions? - 10/06/12 07:28 PM

Debussyist -- what exam was this from?
Posted by: SamXu

Re: What are performance conventions? - 10/06/12 09:04 PM

Originally Posted By: LadyChen
Debussyist -- what exam was this from?


This was from AmusA from AMEB. :P The requirements are crazy.
Posted by: ChopinAddict

Re: What are performance conventions? - 10/07/12 12:48 AM

Maybe what ando had said in the other thread you started is indeed the problem of your performance (a little bit too student-like)?

Originally Posted By: ando
What grade are you sitting? Is it Amus? I've heard that he's very tough on Amus exams, he expects a very professional performance rather than a student type performance, but he's apparently a bit gentler on lower grades. I would say you should present yourself confidently and professionally. I don't think he likes mousy, shy types so much - thinks they aren't ready for their ambitions.
Posted by: tomasino

Re: What are performance conventions? - 10/07/12 11:32 AM

I take the term quite broadly to be how something is usually played that isn't explicitly in the score: retards, articulation, touch, what counter melody to bring out, and so on.

Also, I take it to mean just about any choice we make on stage. According to convention, when does a woman wear a gown, or slacks and a blouse, when does a man wear a tux, or jeans and a sports jacket, how do we sit, where do we stand, how deeply do we bow, how broadly do we smile, or not at all?

Tomasino
Posted by: LadyChen

Re: What are performance conventions? - 10/07/12 02:37 PM

In light of Ando's comments about this examiner, and thinking about what tomasino said, it very well could be a stage presence sort of thing.

I was watching some performers at our local music festival this spring, and in one of the senior piano classes, the performer walked up to the piano, sat down, then turned tentatively and said "Should I start?" and the adjudicator said yes. She played well enough, and at the end, played her last chord, made an unhappy face, shrugged, and got up and left the stage. For me, it was cringe-worthy.

One of my pet peeves is when musicians look apologetic at the end of a performance. I want to see some professionalism at this level -- look confident even if you don't feel like it. And at the end of a piece, END IT. As in, do something to tell the audience that you're done -- like lift your hands from the keys and place them in your lap. Or whatever -- it's kind of like how a conductor keeps the baton up between movements but lets his arms go down after the last movement. It makes the audience feel better when they know what to do.

These little things always seemed like common sense to me until I watched young (late teens) pianists fail to do them, and it really looks awful. Maybe some teachers aren't talking about these things with their students?
Posted by: SamXu

Re: What are performance conventions? - 10/09/12 03:35 PM

Hmm. I had been sick from a cough during that day (and the week before...) and I...umm....i coughed...while i was playing the brahms. :L That would've affected my chances of passing i belivee.
Posted by: LadyChen

Re: What are performance conventions? - 10/09/12 06:42 PM

I truly hope coughing wouldn't screw up your chances of passing. I did a voice exam a couple years ago with the flu and my teacher told me to make it really obvious I was sick -- blow my nose and cough a lot between songs lol (not that I could have helped it anyways -- i really was sick!). I got an okay mark (not a great mark) and the examiner wrote "Candidate is visibly suffering from an illness." on my exam comments.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: What are performance conventions? - 10/09/12 07:04 PM

Originally Posted By: Debbusyist
Hmm. I had been sick from a cough during that day (and the week before...) and I...umm....i coughed...while i was playing the brahms. :L That would've affected my chances of passing i belivee.
Unless someone made no attempt to stifle a mild cough, I can't see why any judge would take off for coughing itself anymore than they'd take off for sneezing. Some coughs just can't be suppressed. But if the coughing somehow prevented you from playing properly than it could have indirectly lowered your grade. But the coughing in itself didn't lower your grade.