The Spirit Must Die So the Letter Can Live

A student of mine had a performance with a very professional new-music group, and one in which he participated. He told me about a rehearsal they had which was going really well, in which all the players were locked in and the music was really soaring. One of the instrumentalists abruptly stopped the music, explaining: “We were making a crescendo, and there’s no crescendo notated.”

It’s like Miles Davis said: robot shit.


  1. says

    What does the player do when they do Baroque Music? Someone’s been abused by composers, in my opinion, or has lost the art of interpretation. Yes, there are composers who want what is on the score and nothing else, but, as someone I highly admire taught me, I feel context is everything.

  2. Joe Kubera says

    I can’t count the number of times I (and I’m sure many others) have played some new piece for a composer and have been told, “Forget what I wrote [or didn’t write]. Do it your way.”

  3. says

    I think what I appreciated most of all about this was the link back to your earlier post. Miles Davis certainly didn’t mince words, did he? I’m a little surprised this would happen in a new music group, actually.

  4. says

    I look at it like Frank Zappa said: the score is a recipe. If the performers add something to a work of mine that doesn’t involve changing the essential character of the piece and it is musically satisfying to them and to me, why not?