These days I have been giving this simple guidance to my students. Whenever they get stuck in their practice, they must ask themselves, “is it technical or musical?”
Technical Command means two things : 1. appropriate application of technique, and 2. sufficient command of the technique applied.
For TC 1, you must find which technical application you need to execute that certain passage, is it more of a forearm rotation or an upperarm rotation? Is it the palm grip or knuckle issue? Or are your fingers not close enough on the keys before execution? Etc etc. Or for TC 2, you have the right technical application but you have trouble in making it happen with solid control, then how are you going to fix it? Is it just about slow practice that magnifies the movement? Or is it a preparation problem, meaning you don’t prepare your hand position early enough prior to the execution of the pattern in question?
Musical Knowledge on the other hand, includes : 1. harmonic and structural analysis of the music (form, sections, phrasing, tonality, key changes, chord progression, notes: chord tones and non-chord tones, and relationships between notes i.e. intervals etc) , 2. historical background of the music (genre, the composer, and the period – other genres, philosophy, aesthetics, and other arts e.g. literature), and 3. interpretation resulted from the understanding of both 1 and 2.
I would point out MK 1 is what most need for the basic interpretation for MK 3. Without 1 there is no basis and knowledge as to where one’s performance interpretation and discretion arises from. How do you know what to do with that particular phrase or chord or note in terms of emphasis, articulation and dynamics? What do you feel and how do you present it and what is the difference when there is a minor 6th but not minor 3rd, or even, and augmented 5th? Of course, now I am pointing out a very small detail here, but always, especially when you have little experience in analyzing the music, start with something big. You start with bigger sections, then find out where each phrase starts and ends, and also the repeated /similar patterns in terms of melody and rhythm. Look for the chords especially some special sounding ones, and the cadences which define the keys and key changes. Where are the secondary dominants? The pedal points?
Let me discuss further in the next post. I think there is already a lot to digest for now. Always one step at a time.
My dear readers and students,
I was brought to attention that my audio recordings here have not been working for a while. Now I have fixed some of them and will keep fixing the rest. I am also putting them on SoundCloud one by one as another way (probably a better way) for you to listen to.
Please click here to go to the page of my recordings.
Thank you all for your attention and concern.
Rachmaninoff’s Prelude Op.23, No. 5
July 24, 2012
My Appearance on TVB with violist Born Lau, playing Rachmaninoff’s “Vocalise”:
黄穎妍 和 劉子正 於二零一二年七月八日 (星期日), 無線電視翡翠台的表演, 演奏拉赫瑪尼諾夫的《無言曲》:
Watch my performance here
June 27, 2012
Teresa Wong and Born Lau will be appearing on TV (TVB Jade, “Cultural Plaza”) on July 8, 2012 (Sunday) at 9am playing Rachmaninoff’s “Vocalise” after Born’s interview with the show host. Please mark it down in your schedule and watch their performance!