Saturday, July 3, 2010

When Does Interpretation Start?

When does one begin to develop an interpretation of a piece? The common wisdom is that you learn to play it first, then add in the “musical stuff” later.

That’s a flawed conception. It treats a piece as two separate entities: technique and physical movements vs. musical elements and interpretation.

The way we execute a piece physically (technique) is a direct product of interpretation. Playing a diminuendo requires a different sort of technique that just playing at even volume. Forte feels different in the fingers than piano.

So in a sense “learning” a peice first, then adding musical elements is like learning two sets of movements. And considering that most guitarists only interpret as an afterthought to finger wiggling, we’re left with a majority of our practice time devoted to a dry so called “un-interpreted**” version of a piece that comes out on stage because we spent more time practicing that way.

Practice and incorporate musical elements from the start of working a piece, and ingrain those movements from day one. Of course you’ll change things along the way and be able to do more interpretive elements, but it can’t hurt to get a head start.

**There’s no such thing as uninterpreted music. Even the lack of making a choice about a musical element is making a choice about the element, and it still results in an “interpretation” that comes out of the player.

1 comment:

JoshuaBavaro said...

I completely agree. I always had trouble separating the two, until I realized that I shouldn't be. Even though my teachers always encouraged technique first, I would learn my music the only way I knew how, and just tell them that I worked on technique first. Surprisingly, they always said "it makes such a big difference in your playing," even though I was doing exactly the same thing as I always did. Great post!


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