Sunday, September 26, 2010

Music or Memory II - a Message from the Composer

First of all, I have to make a confession: Once I’ve memorized a piece, I don’t always follow the advice of people who are wiser than I am, and stay in touch with the score. I mainly use the score to learn the piece, but once that’s done, it tends to get in my way. I get easily distracted by the part of the music that is “playing instructions”, or by comments that I’ve written into the score, and find it much easier to focus on the sound looking at the keyboard and listening to the music in my mind.  

Of course, I have the music on the music stand when I practice - most of the time -, and I refer to it to verify details when I need to, but I hardly ever “read” the entire piece. Now, the decision to play the upcoming “Halloween Program” with the music requires me to do just that.

A week into the project, I’ve made an interesting discovery: The score is inviting me to experiment - with the polyphony in Schumann’s music, for example, trying out different ways to voice a theme, sometimes doing it differently each time I play the piece. I take more time with rubatos than I would dare, if I were relying on my memory alone. It’s almost like a fresh start. Of course, I also found the inevitable wrong notes...
I am beginning to realize that my playing from memory was “memory” in the literal sense - something from the past, that I relied on every time I played the piece. Going back to the score puts me back in touch with the composer, and I’m getting some interesting new ideas. 

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