Pianist to Pianist

A collection of pianistic, pedagogical, methodical, musical, artistic, and cultural contemplations, concepts, observations, and concerns, from pianist to pianist, pedagogue to pedagogue, musician to musician and from a curious and critical observer.

Maybe, as Duchamp and Picasso (not entirely without expressed sarcasm) responded to the demand of their time and culture with a toilet seat and two women with one nose, one should respond to the demand of our time - the fiscal engine of today's market...

Originality, quality, and vision of an artist had to be discovered and appreciated through his works, as face time was much less of a reality (especially with historical figures). We knew the greats of the arts by their works and deeds and not by their...

As discussed in Pants on fire: In language it is possible to lie and in music it is not. The content of a song or a symphony cannot be presented with the intent of infinite deceit. If a piece carries a misguiding title, e.g. a piece is named "Happy days" while the music is like Tchaikovsky's 6th (thank you Peter), the deceit is the title, not the music. Deceptive cadences are also not actually lies, but rather expressive statements that create expectations which, in harmonic music, always resolve ~ as does the deceptive cadence. Music is not a medium for deception.

Language is. Even further: In language it is possible to speak with belief and conviction while the information transmitted is not factually true, e.g. misguided or ignorant information such as insisting that "the moon is made of cheese" or "gnomes steal underpants" or "earth was created six thousand years ago" or "I know what's good for me." Unintentional lying.

Curiously it is possible to perform music with belief and conviction and at the same time produce a misguided and philistrous interpretation, which is similar to unintentional lying in language.

See: Huffington Post Arts & Culture ~ Pants on Fire: 'This Sentence Is a Lie' Cannot Be Expressed in Music. Why Is That? See: 22 • Music does not permit paradoxes but it thrives on ambiguity. See: 275 • The Seven Fundamental Fallacies in musical expression See: 300...

What does the largely ignored performance of the wonderful Joshua Bell at a subway station mean? Just that, nothing else, there is no metaphor. To expose classical art as elitist and in need of humanist education and particular environment is to state the obvious....

In 1920s the then world famous and eternally great Charles Chaplin entered, incognito, a Charles Chaplin look-alike contest in San Francisco. He put on his original tramp costume including unfit melon, bamboo walking stick, dilapidated footwear on wrong feet, and a shoe brush for a mustache, and performed his tramp walk. His performance was received with moderate appreciation and he wasn't advanced into the finals by an esteemed jury of great specialists.

If the phalanx of contemporary, extremely successful concert pianists is third generation impersonators of the great pianists of the past ... how would these great pianists of the past fare in today's culture? Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Liszt, Chopin, Brahms, Busoni, Rachmaninoff in concert ... could we see their Promethean light or would they meet our ignorant indifference? Has the present surpassed the past? Is that not a reason for concern?

Übung macht den Meister.
Practice makes the master.
Practice makes perfect.

But that's only a half truth: The master practices! Perfection is not a state but an attitude. And we can not strive for perfection, we must strive for mastery!

Mastery emerges when the specific becomes universal and that universal becomes specific anew - on a higher level. The path towards mastery is a steep serpentine with vast plateaus on the way. And the master is prepared to patiently endure and thoroughly enjoy plateaus. In constant search for excellence. Improvement is not a continuous upwards curve, it is a sporadic quantum leap followed by a long time of no apparent progress. But regular and aggressively progressive practice opens yet unknown portals. And thus the plateau is a necessary prerequisite for the next quantum leap.

Maintenance: The act of ensuring continuous performance quality and conditions (within a closed system) through applied skill.

Improvement: The act of pushing the known limits of machinery (iron or bone) through applied method.

Progress: Continuous improvement of qualities and conditions.

Therefore the process of progress must be based on the continuous pursuit of improvement.

The art of motorcycle maintenance, for example (as a motorcycle is a closed system), involves regular checkups, keeping the status quo of the machine, occasional fluid changes, and rare component replacement.

The improvement of such a closed system would entail the complete disassembly of the engine and parts and the replacement of current components with more efficient, faster, lighter, better ones. See: 351 • Dissipative Structures

Maintenance of piano technique is practicing the known to keep the known at level - e.g. potentially mindless repetition of scales, warm up schemata, and known repertoire. A rather rigid routine.

Improvement