Musical Expression IV
Actor/Musician Danny Kaye offers a Quotable.
There is an old adage about the three stages in the development of musicians for expressive playing in ensembles (that play written “classical” music). This is something I first heard during my student days but can’t recall exactly where or when.
Stage 1. Play the right notes, in the right place, and at the proper strength. (Hindemith’s words used here) Difficult.
Stage 2. Play “musically,” “expressively,” “freely,” and go beyond the shackles imposed by the written music, blah, blah, blah. More difficult.
Stage 3. Play the right notes, in the right place, and at the proper strength but make it sound “musical,” “expressive’, “free,” and beyond the shackles imposed by the printed music. Most difficult.
Quotable from 1968:
“I heard Toscanini tell an orchestra to play the rhythms correctly for the ensemble, but to make it sound expressive and not rhythmical for the sake of the music. Have you ever heard anything more ridiculous? [orchestra laughter]
OK! Here is what I want you to do: Play the rhythms correctly for the sake of the ensemble, but make it sound free and not rhythmical for the sake of the music." [orchestra silence]
Famous actor and occasional orchestra conductor, Danny Kaye, 1969.