Saturday, August 2, 2008

Pipe Band Forum 1-22-08

Reading Sheet Music

Reading the music is invaluable if you want to keep learning new tunes.

I have sheet music to almost 200 tunes and like to challenge myself by just pulling out a tune and playing through it. If I hit on a tune I like, I mark it to add to my repertoire. It's a fun exercise and I've found tunes I really enjoy playing that I wouldn't have come across any other way.

There are tons of new tunes posted all the time on the internet by their composers for downloading. Check out this site for example - click here. Reading sheet music opens up a lot of possibilities.

There is another topic going about Online Tutoring which was a big help for me on my one of my solo pieces. I was getting all the notes right but the interpretion was messed up.

I kept getting the same comments from judges about my piece, but I wasn't quite understanding what they were getting at, and they don't have a lot of time to explain. After getting help online, the light went on in my head and I finally got it. I would never have figured it out from the sheet music.

When I present a new tune to my classes, I don't want to listen to the publishers recording first. I want to study the piece without any interference from someone elses interpretation. I will sit at my desk and conduct the piece to myself as well as "attempt" to sing the meldoy. I'll go to the piano and play some parts, again deciding how I want to present this piece. Once I have decided how I want it, I may listen to the recording and any other recording I can find to see how different directors interpret the tune. As the conductor I want the music to reflect my interpretation of the piece.
This doesn't work so well in competition because the judge wants to hear it the way they feel it should be played.

I've mentioned before the struggle I had this past year with a piece called Lochaber No More. It's a beautiful piece and I wanted to learn it the first time I heard it.

After getting the same comments about phrasing from two different judges I figured that it was definately my problem and I needed to figure out what I was doing wrong. I downloaded the tune from six different musicians (most of them solo pipers, but not all) on itunes and listened intently to each piece performed by different pipers. Each had subtle differences, but from what I could tell, the phrasing was just as I was playing it.

I finally turned to an online tutor who prepared a lesson for me on the piece based on the setting I sent him and give me some pointers. I really liked what he prepared for me and have done well with it, but it is quite different than the way the music is written, the way it is played by the soloists I have recordings of and the way I was playing it.

Thus my conclusion. When you play a piece for competition your interpretation doesn't amount to a hill of beans. The judge wants it phrased a particular way and it had better be that way or you'll not be successful.
interpret it.

... No matter what, when I perform, I want the performance to represent me and not someone else's performance. Although, they may have some influence on my interpretaion of my performance. ...
Thanks Bill - always nice to get the opinion of someone with more experience. The audience I play to most of the time is myself and that is who I try to please.

I do, however, value the opinion of judges and appreciate their comments whether I place or not. Since I am relatively new to piping, I take the judges comments seriously and try to use their critique to improve whether it be technique or expression. When I get a comment on expression from two different judges and the comments are nearly identical then I figure I'm not getting it right and I'll research it to try and correct the problem.

To be honest with you I still enjoy my interpretation of the piece better because I think Lochaber No More needs to have a sorrowful feel to it; which seems to be the way it is played on the recordings I have. Probably not a good choice for a slow march competition piece.

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