Musical Performance: A Guide to Understanding

Musical Performance: A Guide to Understanding

Musical Performance: A Guide to Understanding

Musical Performance: A Guide to Understanding

Synopsis

This book unravels the complexities of playing music and reveals aspects of learning, playing and responding to music relevant to performances of all levels. A survey of performance through the ages leads to a presentation of basic historical, analytical and psychological concepts. Four chapters follow on teaching, development, practice and memorization. The next section considers the "translation" from score to sound, physical projection, ensemble playing and performance anxiety. The final section addresses the act of listening, the legacy of recordings, music criticism and "performers on performance".

Excerpt

Musical performance is a fundamental part of human existence, yet even the most experienced performer, teacher or scholar can fail to appreciate what lies behind it. It is well known that a performance in public usually represents untold hours – indeed many years – of learning and preparation, but how interpretations are put together, on what basis and with what effect may be less widely understood. What makes some performances come across as 'musical'? Should one try to honour the composer's intentions, and if so how can they be ascertained? What is the relation between the score, the musical work and the performances that they give rise to? How can practice sessions and rehearsals be made more effective, and how might performance anxiety best be overcome? Questions like these are often in the back of the performer's mind, not to mention the minds of their teachers, but until now it has been difficult to find compelling answers. For too long musicians have had to resort to tradition and intuition for the solutions, and important as those undeniably are, they are not always enough. The burgeoning academic literature on performance from recent years has offered little in the way of practical assistance: targeted at a highly specialised readership and generally written in somewhat impenetrable language, it has tended to neglect the concerns of performers themselves despite the need for clear and engaging writing on such topics as practice, memorisation, stage fright, analysing music for performance and the modern performer's historical 'responsibilities'. The fact that more and more universities and conservatoires now offer courses encouraging the interaction of theory and practice, rather than their traditional separation, and that professional performers increasingly present themselves as both 'doers' and 'talkers'(Joseph Kerman's terms) makes the lack of appropriate material all the more regrettable.

The sixteen essays in this volume are intended to unravel the complexities of performance and to bring to light aspects of learning, playing and responding to music relevant to performances at all levels. Broad in aim and accessible in tone, the book is intended for music teachers, students and scholars, as well as music lovers, who are keen to know more about what . . .

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