Saturday, December 12, 2015

Piano Playing (Kochevitsky)




Da Vinci, study (1499), Image from Julian Bell's Mirror of the World;
Chico, Harpo & Groucho Marx at the piano (Animal Crackers, 1930);
Brain Coordination Dynamics (Scott Kelso, Florida Atlantic University, 2010);

"... il y a aussi beaucoup de gens qui jouent bien, qui jouent très bien, et qu'on connaît moins. Ils ne sont peut-être pas de grands pianistes, parce qu'ils ne sont pas très connus."
Emmanuel à douze ans (interviewed by Herve Guibert)
"The young musi­cian, philologian, and admirer of Schopenhauer made his way between them and instinctively went up to a piano which he had descried at the back of this fiendish parlor. He regarded it (these are his own words) as 'the only being with a soul in this company.'" 
Thomas Mann (Nietzsche's Philosophy in the Light of Recent History/translation by Richard and Clara Winston)

"Jeder Fehler in jedem Sinne ist die Folge von Instinkt-Entartung, von Disgregation des Willens: man definiert beinahe damit das Schlechte. Alles Gute is Instinkt—und folglich leicht, notwendig, frei. Die Mühsal ist ein Einwand, der Gott is typisch vom Helden unterschieden (in meiner Sprache: die leichten Füsse das erste Attribut der Göttlichkeit)."
Nietzsche (Götzen-Dämmerung: Die vier grossen Irrtümer, 2)

"Si vou voulez vous pousser vous-même en avant pour parvenir, dit le Laozi, cela sera à la fois épuisant et risqué... ce qui se réalise effectivement ne peut être que de l'ordre de l'effet, et c'est toujours par un processus (transformant la situation), et non en fonction d'un but conduisant (directement) à l'action, qu'on parvient à l'effect, à titre de résultat..."
"À la différence de l'effet (visé par l'agir dans un rapport moyens-fin), l'effect n'est pas à 'chercher', en y tendant directement et de façon volontaire; il est appelé à découler 'naturellement' du processus engagé. Toute stratégie consistera, en retour, à savoir impliquer le processus en amont, d'où l'effet sera ensuite conduit de lui-même à venir."
"... cette efficacité est de l'ordre du fruit qui, en se transformant imperceptiblement, est conduit à mûrir, non du geste héroïque qui prétend obtenir à l'arraché... impossible, comme on sait, de tirer 'directement' sur la plante pour la faire grandir, il faut la laisser pousser."
"... c'est seulement si on ne cherche pas la virtu nommément comme telle (je veux être vertueux), mais qu'elle découle sponte sua, qu'elle coule de source, comme on dit, que la vertu (ou la capacité) surabonde et ne peut s'épuiser... qui, au contraire, ne cesse de vouloir atteindre la vertu, en se la fixant comme but et s'y 'attachant, qui cherche à tout coup à être vertueux, en agissant chaque fois express — sans donc perdre de vue la vertu, sans jamais se départir de son projet —, ne se trouvera jamais suffisamment riche de vertu ou de capacité... qui prétend en faire l'économie, et ne cesse de viser l'effet, est toujours à court d'effectivité. Car cette visée pénalise l'effet — le paralyse."
"... ce n'est pas en s'appliquant à la vertu d'équité qu'on peut parvenir à la droiture continue d'une conduite équitable, ni en exécutant minutieusement les rites qu'on peut parvenir à la pureté du respect rituel..."
"... ce qui permet à l'effet d'effectivement ouvrer est précisément ce 'fonds' discret — à l'antipode de l'effet voyant — qu'aucune mise en oeuvre ne saurait épuiser... Cette ressource ou ce fonds d'effet, comme on dit de quelqu'un qu'il a du fonds, est le fonds d'immanence de l'effet. Au gré d'images qui sont traditionnelles en Chine, il est la souche et le tronc de l'arbre à partir de quoi se déploient naturellement les branches comme autant d'effets singuliers; ou encore il est la mère de l'effet et les effets en sont les enfants..."
François Jullien (Traité de l'efficacité)

"What is weak and soft wins out over what is hard and strong.
A fish should not be withdrawn from the deeps..."
Daodejing/36 (Edmund Ryden's translation)
"... to see what is small is called insight;
to keep to what is weak is called strenght..."
Daodejing/52 (Edmund Ryden's translation)
"Dimm the light, unite with the dust...
This is called
'Becoming one with the abstruse.'"
Daodejing/56 (Edmund Ryden's translation)
"The Sage treats things as difficult [or rather: he undertakes heedfully], 
therefore he never has any difficulties."
Daodejing/63 (Edmund Ryden's translation)
"Those who overdo anything destroy it..."
Daodejing/64 (Edmund Ryden's translation)
"To be brave in timidity leads to gaining life."
Daodejing/73 (Edmund Ryden's translation)

"Et alors, ô miracle, comme ces leçons que nous nous sommes vainement épuisés à apprendre le soir et que nous retrouvons en nous, sues par coeur, après que nous avons dormi, comme aussi ces visages des morts que les efforts passionnés de notre mémoire poursuivent sans les retrouver et qui, quand nous ne pensons plus à eux, sont là devant nos yeux, avec la ressemblance de la vie, le talent de la Berma qui m'avait fui quand je cherchais si avidement 1a en saisir l'essence, maintenant, après ces années d'oubli, dans cette heure d'indifférence, s'imposait avec la force de l'évidence à mon admiration."
Marcel Proust (le narrateur, Le Côté de Germantes) 

"Attention, dit Boehme, à ne pas t'enfoncer, comme en une ténèbre, dans le miroir de tes actes, de tes occupations! Car l'avidité (Geist), inséparable de notre volonté, détruirait l'image de Dieu, image magique, subtile comme un esprit, tellement plus subtile et plus délicate que l'âme même."
Antoine Faivre, "Pensées de dieu, images de l'homme" (Accès de l'ésoterisme occidental)

Anxiety & Play:
"... régner, ainsi que l'eau, dans le secret et 'par en dessous' (en laissant, en offrant à chaque 'sujet' la possibilité du plus complet, du plus heureux épanouissement...)"
Henri Pousseur (sur Lao-Tseu), Musiques Croisées
"Dans la pratique Zen du tir à l'arc, le disciple après un long apprentissage, est si bien absorbé qu'il parvient enfin au seuil de l'art sans art, et tout se passe comme si c'était l'arc qui se servirait du tireur au lieu du contraire."
André Masson (Une peinture de l'essentiel/Écris, anthologie établie par Françoise Levaillant)
"À l'affût des mouvement les plus insensibles, les plus intérieurs... retrouver l'automatisme de la vie réelle."
"Debussy jouait lui-même avec le piano fermé."
Robert Bresson 
"Ich kenne keine andre Art, mit großen Aufgaben zu verkehren als das Spiel: dies ist, als Anzeichen der Größe, eine wesentliche Voraussetzung."
Nietzsche
"... the paradoxical concept of 'effortless striving'... a passionate, obsessive, overwhelming desire... but at the same time you must also maintain zero anxiety about it..." 
Dean Radin (Real Magic)
"... there is a critical blindspot. The more intently we look for the answer in terms of the grid, the more impossible the task becomes."
Thomas P. Kasulis
"... one can become overly obsessed to the point of insanity. In the Buddha Way, one should first of all obtain the appropriate amount of knowledge such that it will empower one's practice. To know the appropriate amount is to be the one who truly knows."
Myoe (Mark Unno, Shingon Refractions)
"... a mouvement from that which the everyday self understands to be the ground of the Being of beings to the invisible basho grounding that basho vis-à-vis being. Observing with a detached seeing is the state in which the self's consciousness of itself disappears and the actor sees even his own dancing figure from the outside, as one observing from the audience."
Yasuo Yuasa 
"There is always activity but it is free from compulsion, done from disinterest. And we are free to stop brooding and to observe the effects of our actions. (When we are proud, that pride keeps us from observing very clearly). And what do we observe: the effects of our actions on others or on ourselves? on ourselves; for if the effects on us are conducive to less separateness, less fear, more love, we may walk on then regardless of the others. Out of that lack of regard for the others we will not feel the need to be competitive, for as in those silences that occur when two people are confident of each other's friendship, there is no nervousness, only a sense of at-one-ness"
John Cage (Lecture on Something)
"Eu fiz xixi no banquinho e só me dei conta quando ouvi um 'óóóhhh' da platéia. Retirada da cena petrificada, ainda ouvi a mestra [Magdalena Tagliaferro] dizer para minha mãe: 'Sinto muito, sua filha tem o que chamamos stage fright. Ela é boa, mas não aconselho seguir na música.'"
Rita Lee

Weight & Emotion:
"...  when you sing, you are where you are..."
John Cage (Lecture on Nothing)
"Le talent est désir de faire fructifier ce qu'on a (parabole de Mathieu, 25, 14; le 'talent' vient de là). Or ce que nous avons est naturellement un poids."
Joëlle (Les Samuraïs)
"Une énergie n'est disponible que lorsqu'on réussit à l'orienter."
Olga (Les Samuraïs)
"When one moves on command, one first puts oneself in the total emotive situation... The cognitive function of 'pointing to' becomes possible only after the active, potential 'holding' has taken place... the existential arc first grasps its goal potentially by means of the bodily scheme."
Merleau-Ponty/Bergson/Yuasa
"La position du corps me semble importante, et la dimension de la surface. Qu'elle soit assez grande pour que le bras puisse la parcourir d'un seul mouvement. Trop petite, le champ le souffle est raréfié. Trop grand, il y aurait impossibilité matérielle, interruption, enfin disparition des images. Autre chose: je ne me vois pas assis, dansant plutôt."
André Masson (A propos de 22 dessins/Écris, anthologie établie par Françoise Levaillant)
"... Einstein's theory of general relativity describes gravity as a distortion in the fabric of space-time caused by the presence of mass. If such a distortion (introduced in this case by focused intention) was able to bend the space between the pitcher and the plate, then the ball would naturally follow that bend..."
Dean Radin (Real Magic)
"If one becomes accustomed to composing in an unrestrained posture such as standing or lying down, one cannot compose at all on formal occasions... My father admonished me not to compose waka even for a short while without the correct sitting posture."
Teika Jiwara
"Voyez cette danseuse, sa main est molle, elle ne fera jamais rien. Le génie de la danse cela part de l'extrémité du pied à l'extrémité de la main. La main, son dessin dans l'espace sera aigu mais sans raideur, c'est la terminaison d'une énergie, le parcours est le corps entier."
Henri Matisse (quoted by Masson, Conversations avec Henri Matisse/Écris, Françoise Levaillant)
"We pick up a needle from the floor and we spend on this action as much energy as is needed to lift up a man of our own weight."
Ouspensky
"Grande parte do movimento da mão é controlado por feixes de músculos que se contraem na zona mais afastada do antebraço."
Louise Gordon (Desenho Anatómico, tradução Conceição Jardim e Eduardo L. Nogueira)
"Ela não conseguia dar mais aquela antiga suavidade entre uma nota e outra, como um desmaio."
Clarice Lispector

Sound, Colour, Form:
"... il me paraît tellement important de développer une théorie du son et de la musique (de la matière sonore et musicale en mouvement) qui s'efforce de généraliser ces notions et d'en vérifier l'application dans des pratiques..."
Henri Pousseur, Musiques Croisées
"Mise à nu en forme de piano accompagné des 3 fracas et de souvenirs de jeunesse du gaz d'éclairage. D'un nombre conventionnel de notes de musique 'entendre' le groupe de celles qui ne sont pas jouées (refaire)..."
Marcel Duchamp
"Elementarism opposes to the orthogonal method of plasticism, that is, homogeneous with natural construction, a heterogeneous contrasting, labile method of expression by means of sloping planes relative to the static, perpendicular axis of gravity."
The van Doesburg (quoted in Linda Henderson's The Fourth Dimension)
"Qu'est-ce que dessiner? Comment y arriver? C'est l'action de se frayer un passage à travers un mur de fer invisible, qui semble se trouver entre ce que l'on sent et ce que l'on peut. Comment doit-on traverser ce mur, car il ne sert de rien d'y frapper fort..."
Van Gogh (cité par Artaud)
"Van Gogh est peintre parce qu'il a recollecté la nature, qu'il l'a comme retranspirée et fait suer..."
A. Artaud
"Un grand pianiste ne plaque pas l'émotion sur les touches. Il l'attend. Elle arrive et envahit ses doigts, le piano, lui, la salle."
Robert Bresson
"... the most important effect of these anticipatory probings which accompany the reading of images is that aura of space which appears to surround any naturalistic representation. The mere sign stands out as a figure against a neutral background, but this same ground recedes and assumes potential extension... aura... screen..."
Ersnt Gombrich
"While form is absolute [not quite true!], so that you say at the moment you draw any line that it is either right or wrong, colour is wholly relative [I'd rather say relative to the whole]. Every hue throughout your work is altered by every touch that you add in other places... every touch must be laid, not with a view to its effect at the time, but with a view to the result upon it of all that is afterwards... nothing but the devotion of life and great genius besides can make a colourist."
Ruskin/Gombrich

Quantum reality, brain: 
"The important point here is that there is in principle, in the quantum model, an essential dynamic difference between the unconscious processing done by the Schrödinger evolution, which generates by a local process an expanding collection of classically conceivable experiential possibilities and the process associated with the sequence of conscious events that constitute the wilful selection of action." 
J. M. Schwartz, Henry P. Stapp, Mario Beauregard
"... un cerebro medio contiene unos diez mil millones de neuronas, cada una de las cuales encierra varios millones de moléculas de distintos ácidos nucleicos; el número de combinaciones posibles es astronómico..."
Hyden/Cortázar

Gravitation: 
"If falling in a gravitational field can get rid of any observable effects of gravity, accelerating in the absence of one can create the appearance of a gravitational field... As everyone who has ever been in an elevator has experienced, when it first starts to accelerate upward, you feel slightly heavier; namely, you feel a greater force exerted by the floor on your feet. If you were in outer space, where you would otherwise feel weightless, and the elevator you were in started to accelerate upward, you would feel a similar force pushing you down against the floor... if I shined a laser beam in an elevator... I would also see the light ray's trajectory bend downward... But special relativity tells us that light rays move at constant speed in straight lines... one way to go in a straight line and also travel in a curve is to travel on a straight line on a curved surface... Space, and to some extent time, can be curved in the presence of mass or energy..."
"Gravity is measured to be more than a billion billion billion billion times weaker than electromagnetism, and even weaker still when compared to the strong force [binding quarks in subatomic clusters]. It may not seem so weak... but remember that you are feeling the gravitational force of the entire earth acting on you. By contrast, even a small excess of electric charge on an object such as a balloon produces a large enough electric field to hold it up on a wall against the gravitational pull of the entire earth... In the Randall-Sundrum scheme... gravity near our brane acts effectively much more weakly than it does outside our brane... a microscopic distance 'away' from our world in the extra spatial dimension, gravity would appear to have the same strength as the other forces in nature..."
Lawrence M. Kraus, Hiding in the Mirror
"So, if string theorists are right, everywhere in visible space—at the tip of your nose... at the spot above the tennis court where your racket hit the ball the last time you served—there would be a six-dimensional Calabi-Yau manifold of invisibly tiny size..."
"Branes, like sower curtains and Loyd's fifteen game, trap things on lower-dimensional surfaces. They introduce the possibility that in a world with additional dimensions, not all matter is free to travel everywhere... But braneworlds are interesting precisely because we know that not everything is confined to a single brane. Gravity, for example... extends to the bulk and everything interacts via gravity..."
"... the equivalence principle, which states that the effects of acceleration cannot be distinguished from those of gravity... you wouldn't have any way of distinguishing uniform acceleration from standing still in a gravitational field... Einstein no longer saw gravity as a force that acts directly on an object. Instead, he describe it as a distortion of the geometry of spacetime that reflects the different accelerations required to cancel gravity in different places... the force of gravity is understood in terms of the curvature of spacetime, which in turn is determined by the matter and energy that are present..."
"Just as [a] Vermeer could not have executed his paintings with a two-inch-wide brush... particles cannot be sensitive to short-distance physical processes unless their wavefunction varies over only small scales... according to de Broglie... the wavelength of a particle-wave is inversely proportional to its momentum... you need high energies to be sensitive to the physics of short distances... "
Lisa Randall, Warped Passages
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- Feel fingers as inherently connected to the whole body and mind: 
"Practicing at the piano is mainly practicing of the central nervous system, whether we are aware of it or not..." (: Preface).
- Play with the ear: 
"Although Friedrich Wieck in the earlier period of his teaching used Logier’s Chiroplast in certain cases, his first concern was with the formation of touch and with teaching his pupils to listen and to hear, 'just as singing teachers rely upon the culture of a fine tone'" (: 6).
- Less is more (it is not a matter of strength but of optimizing movement): 
"... the laws of work of the central nervous system, which directs our motor activity, exclude any possibility of making such calculations while playing, and limit the ability to control muscle work while practicing. Although muscles need regulation, and indeed extremely fine regulation, this has to be achieved in a quite different way" (: 10).
"A man with the muscles of a Hercules could be very clumsy in his walking..." (: 11).
"The requirements of an individual finger in piano playing are usually much less than its natural ability [Oscar Raif’s experiments]" (: 12).
"... beginning practice starts with too much expenditure of force" (: 13). 
"... the energy of a movement is conditioned by the clarity and strength of the artistic imagination" (: 14).
"[Otto] Ortmann made many important observations that helped expose the fallibility of some existing ideas in piano pedagogy. He said, for example: 'Electrical stimulation has shown that, muscularly and mechanically, the normal infant is as ready to play a rapid five-ginger sequence as is the trained adult...'" (: 15).
"... the psycho-technical school suggests that the more our consciousness is diverted from the movement, and the stronger it is concentrated on the purpose of this movement, the more vividly do artistic idea and tonal conception persist in the mind" (: 17).
"Listening to great pianists not only miraculously influences a pupil’s musicianship but his motor sphere as well" (: 17).
"Never think of your music in terms of execution (of what your hands and fingers should or are going to do) but in terms of interpretative rendering (what you would expect it to sound like if a performer from heaven were executing it for you) [Bonpensiere]" (: 17).
"The human brain contains many billions of nerve cells which are connected with each other through nerve fibers" (: 21).
"We are not conscious of how we function but are concerned with the purpose of our action. ... The spatial and temporal regulation of movement forms depends on the fine collaboration of the cortex with the sub-cortical centers..." (: 22).
"What is important is strong, active finger work, since we receive much weaker sensations from weak movements than from strong ones./ A slight pressure into the key after its full depression is recommended in slow practicing... At the slightest sensation of fatigue in the upper parts of the arm, this practicing should be stopped" (: 25).
"The reason for difficulty in executing a trill is usually not the lack of capability of the fingers involved" (: 27).
"... the auditory stimulation (conditional stimulus), must always precede the motor reaction (unconditional stimulus), in performance as well as in practicing... The musical incentive has to be a signal provoking the motor activity" (: 28).
"Sometimes excessive industry and strenuous practicing can result in failure... Fatigue of the central nervous system, which is not noticed by the player, is the reason for this failure" (: 29).
******George Kochevitsky, The Art of Piano Playing (Evanston: Summy-Birchard Company, 1967).
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"... in playing, the fingers should be arched, and the muscles relaxed. The less these two conditions are satisfied, the more attention must be given to them. Stiffness hampers all movement, above all the constantly required rapid extension and contraction of the hands... through intelligent practice it is easy to achieve that which can never be attained by excessive straining of the muscles... never undertake more than can be kept under control in public performance, where it is seldom possible to relax properly or even to maintain a fitting disposition... as a means of learning the essentials of good performance it is advisable to listen to accomplished musicians. Above all, lose no opportunity to hear artistic singing..." (Bach's Essay) (: 27-30).
"... a physical approach that ruled out all affectation and unnecessary movement" (Mozart’s "ideal Viennese technique") (: 52).
"Hummel 'feels that three hours a day of practice at the most should be enough for the advancing student to achieve excellence... unbecoming habits should be carefully avoided; as holding the face too near the book, biting the lips, nodding the head... that an adagio is much more difficult to perform with propriety than an allegro is a fact acknowledged by every one...'" (: 70-77).
"... the crescendo should never be produced by a visible exertion of the hands, or by lifting up the fingers higher than is usual... but only by an increased internal action of the nerves, and by a greater degree of weight" (Czerny’s approach) (: 112).
"... then [Liszt] had Calerie play the elementary exercise: do-re-me-fa-sol-fa-me-re-do, striking each note six, eight, or twelve times while holding down the notes not involved. Valerie had trouble folding them down and occasionally released the third or fourth fingers. Liszt then asked her to play the exercise as fast as she could and without holding down any keys. 'Can you hear how uneven it is'?" (181).
"[Prentice]... emphasized the importance of deep breathing exercises for the pianist" (: 233).
"The arm must be in a state of complete rest and passivity, and simple allow itself to be guided as whole through the prescribed motions... each separate finger, quite unaffected by the task which its neighbor has to perform, must carry out with perfect independence the commands transmitted to it from the brain" (Caland) (: 257-59).
"... for [Leschetizky], music making was a vital experience, as urgent and important as life itself" (: 272).
"Annette Hullah recalled that [Leschetizky] felt that four or, at the most five hours a day of concentrated practice was sufficient… 'concentrated thought is the basis of his principles'" (: 274).
"Leschetizky teaches his pupils to save their bodies fatigue by devitalizing the muscles not called into play. Let anyone support the extended arm of another, and then at a given word allow the arm to drop. If it falls to the side instantly and quite limp, it is said to be devitalized, but many people find difficulty in letting the arm go entirely in this way with all their muscles relaxed" (: 279).
******Reginald R. Gerig. Famous Pianists and Their Technique (R. B. Luce, 1974).
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Related:
"Curiously the discussion on body-sense and body-movement, together called proprioception, are two central topics of discussion in neurobiology. Proprioception is a third sense (apart from the sensations of outer and inner objects) that tells us how much effort we need to give for movement, and where the body parts are located in relation to one another, an awareness of the body which stems from sensory receptors — proprioceptors — in the muscles, tendons, and joints, creating adequate stimuli for deep receptors... While this vital sense is challenged in patients with psychiatric and neural disorders, it is present in a heightened degree in performers of martial arts where the other person’s (proprioceptive) capability is also considered as feedback... Together seen and understood the viewpoint in space creates the identity of the performer/artist and one’s presence that transcends color, form, and body, and in the process creates a transpersonal space that is still, peaceful, and aesthetic," Sangeetha Menon Shankar Rajaraman's & Lakshmi Kuchibotla's "Well-being and Self-Transformation in Indian Psychology" (International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, 37/1, 2018, pp. 13–26);

See also:
- view from Berthe Trepat's apartment;
- liste des déclencheurs musicaux;
- (Electronic & Others) High or Middle Culture?
- Elements of Musical Language (by Bruno Kiefer);
- List of musicians (under construction);
- Dark Consciousness

1 comment:

  1. I think everybody should play piano! It’s really fun and once you know how to play, you won't want to stop! I play really good and I hope everyone gets a chance to play piano...do it!

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