Monday, December 20, 2010


I flirted with the idea of making a video for the YouTube Symphony, and even went to the trouble of trying to record one of the excerpts, with enough lighting that you could almost see me. I dragged most of the lights in the house into the room where I was playing, propping them up on things, with wires everywhere. Making video is not that easy, however, if you want to do it well, beyond the minor task of actually playing well. It was fun thinking about, though, and I briefly practiced a few standard excerpts. That in itself was instructive. I mean, I've spent months slowly working my set of scales from less than 60 bpm to around 70 bpm, then Marriage of Figaro is supposed to go at 144? I tried skipping all the way there, setting the metronome to 144. Then playing one note. Two notes. Practicing two notes. Then three. In different orders. Then four. Pretty soon I could play small snatches of it at what seemed like an astonishing tempo. And you know, it sounded okay, at least to my ear. I could see how, with a lot of work, it might be possible to work the whole thing out at that tempo. And people do.

The reality is that performance is very competitive. Above a certain level, everybody is very good. The video below is from one of the finalists, and here's the link to the whole batch. All that effort to play the exact same thing as everyone else -- it seems more like a sport than an art. Every sprinter runs the same 100 m in the 100 m dash, the question is who runs the fastest. How different is deciding jobs and careers based on a few bars from the Marriage of Figaro?

No comments:

Post a Comment