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Thread: Score vs. Performance

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    Senior Member arpeggio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heck148 View Post
    One could say that a score is like a blueprint of a proposed structure....that structure actualized through performance or construction, as the case may be...
    Tho, perhaps the score is more like the script of a play, or theatrical production...it tells us what notes, what pitches are to be performed in time, relative to one another...
    Tho the script is exact, its delivery is very much up to the performer...obviously, the actor does not read the script in a straight monotone delivery, it would be lifeless and deadly...same with the musical score - the composer may present guidelines to the performer - tempo indications: Allegro, Adagio, Andante, etc, etc..and expressive directions as well - maestoso, con brio, dolce, cantabile, feroce, etc....performers will generate their own concepts of these directions put forth by the composer...
    I really like Heck148's contributions. 90% of time his experiences coincide with my own.
    It is impossible to make anything foolproof because fools are so ingenious. And I am a very ingenious fellow

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    To be honest, if a performer doesn't obey the score but is still convincing musically, I see no problem with obviously going against the intent of the composer. The resulting music should be the end goal; all other concerns, including respecting the wishes of the composer, should be secondary.

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BachIsBest View Post
    To be honest, if a performer doesn't obey the score but is still convincing musically, I see no problem with obviously goingagainst the intent of the composer. The resulting music should be the end goal; all other concerns, including respecting the wishes of the composer, should be secondary.
    If the composer is living, he might want to talk to you about that attitude.

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    Senior Member Ethereality's Avatar
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    My favorite work was composed with choir but is famously performed without it. I don't like the choir.

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    Senior Member SONNET CLV's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heck148 View Post
    One could say that a score is like a blueprint of a proposed structure....that structure actualized through performance or construction, as the case may be...
    Tho, perhaps the score is more like the script of a play, or theatrical production...it tells us what notes, what pitches are to be performed in time, relative to one another...
    Tho the script is exact, its delivery is very much up to the performer...obviously, the actor does not read the script in a straight monotone delivery, it would be lifeless and deadly...same with the musical score - the composer may present guidelines to the performer - tempo indications: Allegro, Adagio, Andante, etc, etc..and expressive directions as well - maestoso, con brio, dolce, cantabile, feroce, etc....performers will generate their own concepts of these directions put forth by the composer...

    I equate the score to a building blueprint more than to the script of a play. I could amend that if I considered the play only to be spoken, such as a radio play or closet drama. That considers the aural aspect of the play, and a musical score produces an aural result. The script of a play includes as well a visual component for full realization. And this additional element lends to greater possibility of variation. Of course, one could point out that a building is a visual realization, but it is more like a musical realization since it is a single element off the original blueprint (blueprint to building) just as the musical work is a single element off the score (score to music). In the music, the performer equates, one might suppose, to the construction workers, but I remain somewhat uncomfortable with that analogy, one to which I've never before given thought prior to this post.

    An intriguing OP, here.

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    Senior Member mikeh375's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BachIsBest View Post
    To be honest, if a performer doesn't obey the score but is still convincing musically, I see no problem with obviously going against the intent of the composer. The resulting music should be the end goal; all other concerns, including respecting the wishes of the composer, should be secondary.
    I have requested a warrant to stop you performing any music BachIsBest. Expect a knock on the door from the CIA... (Composers Intentions Agency). The penalty for such outrage against the score will be severe, you will have to listen to Bach's 48 scored for 3 accordians and a Scottish bagpipe with all pieces transcribed to B flat major...even the minor key ones....

    Every composer will attest that revelation is to be had when they hear a score played live for the first time, that is after they get over the "oh crap, what on earth was I thinking" stage. What a good musician naturally gives to a part that is suitably written is one of the great joys for a composer. There is always hidden expressive potential in a line or interpretation that can be missed or not even thought of by a composer who will be grateful and delighted when it is instinctively felt by good players. The composer can then pretend it's what they meant...
    Last edited by mikeh375; May-25-2020 at 08:57.

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  10. #22
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    ............................................
    Last edited by larold; May-25-2020 at 17:12.

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    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enthusiast View Post
    I can't read music but am not sure that any score is a blueprint in engineering. So performance is what we get - what makes the music fly or remain earthbound. Of course, if the piece in a poor one then no performance can save it.
    That's what they thought about the Goldbergs, until Glenn Gould breathed new like into them, getting away from that Wanda Landowska approach.

    Quote Originally Posted by larold View Post
    What's more important to you, and why? Music can be made without scores, after all. That's the way it started out, as sound.

    Maybe you can list your top 10 pieces of classical music written without a score and tell us what you like about them.
    Ha ha. No, I was speaking much more generally. Much folk, 'ethnic', and popular music is not scored, and is transmitted by ear. This kind of music is a performer's music, where there is no 'composer' behind the curtain, or if there is, is not the prime consideration (as in a Sinatra recording). Jazz is a continuation of this to a large degree, where we are more interested in what the improvisor does with the music rather than the architecture.

    In jazz, we are more concerned with who the performers are, and what they are doing. When John Coltrane plays "My Favorite Things," we are more interested in what he does with the music, rather than the song itself, which is a 'scaffolding' for the improvisations. I think it's important to realize that music was, and still can be created without scores, in this performing tradition, and that in this approach to music, it's performers that bring the human element to the experience in a direct, living way, and concrete, defined musical ideas of one composer take a back seat.

    The score contains 'human elements' too, but these are recorded and must be translated and interpreted. The composer may already be dead, so these human elements must be translated into 'living, human' terms, so there is always the chance that this will not be successful.

    Since classical music is not about improvisation, i.e. the "musical ideas" of the performers, then it is concerned with the ideas or the composer only. So this is a different conception of a what a performer is; he becomes merely a vehicle for the ideas.

    So, in that the score represents "musical idea," it is ultimately more important than any interpretation, since the individual power of the performer has been effectively eliminated.

    In orchestral classical music, we are listening to the ideas of one composer, and perhaps an interpretation of a conductor, as a 'collective effort of performance.' Most orchestral instruments are not really designed for solo use anyway, and ideally are part of a collective sound, an hierarchy.
    When we do hear a soloist, we are closer to hearing whatever the individual performer can bring. So, ultimately, classical music is about the musical ideas of a composer. The individual performer has been subsumed into the context of a larger hierarchy.

    Really, my idea of starting this thread was to illuminate this "collective vs. individual" aspect of classical music compared to other genres, because I think "performance" and "score" represent these two poles.
    Last edited by millionrainbows; May-25-2020 at 14:34.

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    Do you have the same view towards orchestral and solo works?
    I'm under the impression that, from little modification to total transcription are welcomed for solo works (if they are good of course), but some people get upset by a conductor altering an orchestral piece.

    Is it a respect thing that the composers' consent is necessary, or the authority of the person making the changes matters a lot?
    Last edited by rice; May-25-2020 at 14:30.

  13. #25
    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BachIsBest View Post
    To be honest, if a performer doesn't obey the score but is still convincing musically, I see no problem with obviously going against the intent of the composer. The resulting music should be the end goal; all other concerns, including respecting the wishes of the composer, should be secondary.
    But the "resulting music" consists of the musical ideas of the composer (basic rhythm and pitches). These can't be changed. A cadenza, maybe, but that's all.

    I think when you say "all other concerns, including respecting the wishes of the composer, should be secondary," this is more applicable to early music (like Bach, Mozart) without a lot of expressive markings. I think Glenn Gould's Mozart Piano Sonatas are a good example of what you're getting at. The audacity! And remember Leonard Bernstein's famous disclaimer on the recording of the Brahms with Gould.

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    Senior Member Simplicissimus's Avatar
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    Here's a comment by pianist John Browning that I find enlightening. It's from a 1995 interview with former WNIB-Chicago host Bruce Duffie. The whole interview is at http://www.bruceduffie.com/browning.html

    BD: Are you the boss or is the composer the boss?
    JB: I always remember Samuel Barber because he said, “I never expect the artist who’s playing my music to say, ‘How do you want it.’ What I’m interested in is what my music does with the artist. It’s the catalyst. There is no one way.” He was a close friend of Horowitz, who taught him a great deal about the piano. Ideally each one respects the composers. Obviously the composers’ work has to be the most important, but the artist is the voice, the messenger, and it has to come out right through the messenger and with the messenger’s conviction or it won’t work. A good composer should think about the hall; he should write for the hall, for the artist, for the public. He shouldn’t write as if it’s just something to be handed down like a written manuscript, because it doesn’t come alive. It’ll only come alive at the hands of the recreative artist. The hard thing in the performance, the hardest thing in interpretation, is to get to the point where you feel you understand the composer and you feel you can also be yourself. Then you aren’t being slavish to the composers. It’s not good enough to just assume that Schubert wrote forte here. You have to ask, “WHY did he write forte?” If you know that, then you will be much freer in what kind of forte you do. There is a point where you feel you are intimate enough with the composer that you have a pretty good idea of what the composer wants, but at the same time you’ll allow for the fact that maybe the composer goes through phases. You go through the three autographs of Chopin and there are many changes.
    BD: You have to figure out which one you want to play?
    JB: Yes.

  15. #27
    Senior Member Flamme's Avatar
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    I like the Individual touch. But not 2 much!
    'Listen, Mister god!
    Isn't it boring
    to dip your puffy eyes,
    every day, into a jelly of clouds?'

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    Quote Originally Posted by mbhaub View Post

    Nope, Mahler, despite the numerous comments in the scores, still leaves us guessing.
    Well, then I stand corrected.

  17. #29
    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rice View Post
    Do you have the same view towards orchestral and solo works?
    I'm under the impression that, from little modification to total transcription are welcomed for solo works (if they are good of course), but some people get upset by a conductor altering an orchestral piece.

    Is it a respect thing that the composers' consent is necessary, or the authority of the person making the changes matters a lot?
    I think there is some attitude going on. Mahler's Tenth, even though the ideas are the same in his last draft, is not accepted by some diehards as being authentic enough. Even the change of order in that other 'Blumlein' symphony (or whatever it was) is not accepted.

    HIP interpretations are rejected by many, accepted exclusively by others. This Brahms set might cause consternation among many:



    And this version of the Violin Sonatas is surely 'heresy' to many:


    Last edited by millionrainbows; May-25-2020 at 16:20.

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  19. #30
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    I think there is some attitude going on. Mahler's Tenth, even though the ideas are the same in his last draft, is not accepted by some diehards as being authentic enough. Even the change of order in that other 'Blumlein' symphony (or whatever it was) is not accepted.

    HIP interpretations are rejected by many, accepted exclusively by others. This Brahms set might cause consternation among many:

    Rice was asking whether a conductor's prerogative as interpreter extended to changing the notes. An HIP approach to Brahms wouldn't do that, but in other respects that Zehetmair set of the symphonies is definitely not the Brahms we grew up with. Performance is what brings music to life, but it can kill it too. I listened to the first half of the 4th on that set and I'm about ready to write an obituary for the piece. Who knew Brahms was anorexic? Furtwangler or Walter would eat this dude for lunch, and old Johannes would bring the wine.
    Last edited by Woodduck; May-25-2020 at 17:02.

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