Believe it or not, your knowledge on music history and theory will be reflected in your playing. It will help your performance unconsciously by understanding and visualizing patterns, hidden harmonies, structures etc.
Not convinced yet?
Go on YouTube and watch any interview by one of your favorite soloists!They often talk (know) about the time period the piece was composed, its relation to the modern orchestra and general impressions the contemporary audience may have. They also know the score (orchestra parts) like they know their hands.
Not convinced yet?
Yeahhhhhh, I know you are! 🙂
Anyway, as performers we approach music from a totally different angle. If we were composers, for example, elements like orchestration, harmonies and colors are supposed to be the primary focus. For us it’s sometimes technique, technique, technique.
So what can we do to expand that horizon?
How can we performers take it to the next level?
I believe the right answer stands by studying and analyzing how composers think.
If we understand composers then we can understand their music.
For example, let’s say that the composer is writing for the orchestra. He/She thinks and studies that instrument as a whole. Balance, melody line, accompaniment, colors, textures, harmonies, dynamics, contrast, ranges-that’s what’s going on in their heads. But, on top of that they have to know at least the basics of each instrument and their capabilities to write successfully for them.
Our job as performers constitutes to play those dynamics. Our job as a section is to play those dynamics as a section. If we play (p) instead of (pp), when (pp) is marked, then it is another piece. That (pp) has been thought as a complementary part of what’s going on around the orchestra–assuming we are working with a professional composer.
He studied orchestration. You studied clarinet. Trust him/her. 🙂
12 Things the Composer Might be Thinking While You Play Your Part
1. Dynamics are not being played as strictly as I thought them.
2. The oboist is not aware that his/her line is being doubled by another instrument.
3. Cello section is rhythmically helping the melody line. Please notice that!
4. They are obviously playing the root of the chord. It feels like they don’t even notice.
5. First violins are now complementing the harmony.
6. First violins tend to play sharp in upper positions. Why? Focus on the harmony guys!
7. Seconds can play more. I don’t hear them. They are really important.
8. Violas, forget the viola jokes you guys are essential in my music.
9. There is a xylophone in this piece. I don’t think the orchestra knows it.
10. That line is impossible to play, but is ok… I don’t care about the notes they are building a color.
11. I hope the musicians don’t notice I copied those measures from John Williams.
12. This composition was created to have an impact. Not so much about beautiful chords. I hope someone understands my purpose with the piece.