Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Playing the partition

Credit drawing: Leander Lenz (

I oft hear the objection towards a true philosophical approach, that it suffices to love and that there is no need to understand, nor even to try to understand. There is seemingly some truth to this assertion, so much as we sometimes manage to make intelligence the rival of will, thus of the heart. Since it is not I who invented myself, in other words I have not chosen to be made to love, and on the other hand to be "stupid" does not preclude anyone from loving, well all there is left for me to do is to love, and that's all folks, like a plant or an animal! We do tend to take animals as a reference these days: do THEY get wound up over things!?

All right, I agree, we are in the last analysis interpreters of our nature, and it seems it is not necessary to try to understand, all we need to do is to play the partition, easy peasy. Well that's not the case precisely, I know high level interpreters, some of them international in scope, and they play what is written on the sheet, with emotion, panache, brio, even with their guts, as the saying goes... yet if we stop them in the middle of their performance, or if they are bothered by any given incident, they have to start anew because they have no idea what a modulation is. I promise that some interpreters and instrumentalists play what is written on the sheet, even if a fly has just landed on it, and understand diddly-squat of the intelligence of the composition. For them it boils down to a movement of fingers, a physical training, and that's precisely what the expression “learned dog” means.

Well I say that an interpreter who seeks to understand the thought of the composer, and the harmonic, rhythmic and melodic intelligence of what he is playing is concretely better than a musician who moves his fingers without having a clue of what's going on. And let's not even speak of those who embark on a piece which is clearly unplayable because it is not written by a real composer or because it doesn't correspond to the tessitura of their instrument, and who run backstage sobbing because they have received a swarm of tomatoes, and there are a stack like that... Or who trumpet they will cross the Atlantic in a bathtub, everything is fine, the sea is calm this morning, you can go see for yourself if you don't believe me, and who plan to stick their finger in the tap hole to stay afloat, and in general finish off with a “In any case, such and such famous sailor drowned at the end of his career, which proves if need be that one must not ponder too hard over these things.”

What can you respond to that!? All that you can do is wait and hope that, in case there is a problem, they will come back swimming, albeit blue all over, but at least that they will come back, because sometimes they don't come back, or without the children... and if they do come back, then you have to patiently wait that they cease to be stunned by the fact that you are not solely and completely surprised by their wreckage! I'm not saying that to ponder over these things will preclude any incident, and maybe not even a wreckage, but it can be of some assistance. :-)


  1. love is a kooky mistress, my friend

  2. Couldn't have said it better myself.

  3. Thank you for stopping by my blog, and for your comment.

    All my best,

  4. Antonio and 3L,
    I won't disagree with you guys here :-) It takes two to tango... I will repeat what Avatar would say: one must be intelligent to love, this is not a secret, but one must be truly intelligent to truly love, and this is not such commom knowledge. That's all for now :D

    Thanks for dropping in, and nice to meet you :)

  5. Totally agree with you,playing music without soul won't get him/her any better.

  6. The Count digs it! He took music lessons as a teenager and found that he loved the music and could appreciate the musical thoughts of Mozart and others... but,he had no talent and could not really learn to play his instrument or learn to read music well. Without talent or technical skills... even love won't help. Count Sneaky

  7. Count! Arguably, the heart of talent is desire. Harvey the rabbit also took music lessons at that juncture, and enjoyed it somewhat, but then somehow liked the idea of chasing leather balls better.

  8. To play music you need talent... that is a fact. But there is a difference between playing music and being music. Some people not only have a gift, they know how to give that gift to others.