Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Read This Now - Making Music

The February 6 issue of the New Yorker has a great little piece by the pianist Jeremy Denk about the recording process and struggle.  He also does quite a bit about Charles Ives' "Concord" Sonata, but the most interesting parts are his thoughts about the differences between recordings and live performances and the goals and results therein...

In performance, at some point near the climax, I happily relinquish the prospect of playing all or any of these notes, and just let the fervor take over, preacher style.  In recording, this wonderful freedom seems a cop-out.  You must have all the notes; after all, it's a document.
Ultimately, editing turns out to be even more nerve-racking than recording.  In the moment of playing, the logistics of just hitting the notes distract you from the continuous choices you are making.  In the edit you have nothing but choice.  And you feel helpless, since everything has already been played.
Unfortunately the piece is behind the pay wall so you'll need a subscription or have to cough up a few bucks to read the whole thing.  There is a nice audio companion to the piece though with a lot of the same thoughts in an interview format and you get to hear some of the music that Denk is playing in the story.

Denk also has a blog that you might enjoy if you like the New Yorker piece.

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