Wednesday, January 06, 2010

"Before the heart can remember, the mind must forget."

Here's an excerpt from a wonderful article on musical interpretation by Byron Janis:
Thinking is creativity's worst enemy. When I first sight-read a score, everything seems so right, so natural. The notes seem to be playing themselves and the music flows. Why? Because I am not thinking. Inspiration has been my guide—the adventure of a first time. Then comes familiarization, the learning process where, until the piece is well in hand, thinking is allowed. After that, interpretation—choices must be made, but you are finally free to feel and use your creative instincts. And, at last, creation—how do I make the music sound as it did when I didn't know it? The great poet Yeats spoke of this dilemma so beautifully in his poem "Adam's Curse":

Yet if it does not seem a moment's thought,

Our stitching and unstitching has been naught.

Before the heart can remember, the mind must forget. And, when I least expect to, I will suddenly start playing that piece, again without thinking, as I did in the beginning when I first sight-read it. That is when it happens—I have finally discovered my "moment's thought."
You can read the whole article here. Of course the article isn't nearly long enough, but fortunately Janis' memoirs will be coming out in the fall. I'm excited about that. Here's something Janis wrote about visiting George Sand's grandaughter at Nohant fifty years ago. Is it fall yet?

1 comment:

Fredrik Montelius said...

Great article. I simply must buy the book when it hits the shelves. Something to look out for!
BTW: Beethoven also used defect metronomes.