Last April I wrote a post untitled Far Beyond Entertainment, do you remember? I guess I opened the Pandora box with this post. Writing down a story and publishing it is quite different from having an idea at the back of your mind : you can think about it but don’t have to structure, defend nor apply it. When it’s out, you have to make people understand what you meant, stand up for your idea and think how it changes your everyday life.
This month I released my first album, Introducing Pierre-Arnaud Dablemont (download it now for free before it’s too late! Go here), I had a lot to do I didn’t really have time about the implications of these sayings and above all the implications of bringing to my consciousness what have been deeply buried for many years. Well, I do have time right now. In fact, I can’t do anything else than think about it. I’m planning projects for the upcoming years and that’s the perfect time for an introspection, based on what I wrote earlier. To be fair, I didn’t expect this post to rock my world, but it did, in a certain way. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not down or sad or depressed or anything like that. It’s the opposite: I feel passionate and energized, I feel in the right place at the right time, I’m looking forward to new projects and have exciting ideas.
Of course, this thinking forces me to question the ideas I’m generally defending, develop them, rediscover those I had hidden from my everyday consciousness. If you’ve been following me for a little while, you probably know I’m not basing my interpretations on unverified intuitions. I need to dig and get to the bottom of things to make up my mind about something. As I was saying in 2008 in a post named The Performer, a Researcher?, I strongly believe a performer is a researcher. Each work we begin to practice is like a big question mark towards which we should have a neutral approach, keep an open mind and let the prejudices far behind. By prejudices, you can understand, for example, traditional interpretations. A careful investigation on the subject (the work) should be the only way to answer the question. Sure, there are shortcuts: copying from someone else without understanding the answer (listening to recordings and trying to reproduce the output for example).
But keep in mind that to really perform a piece you have to understand it. You have to get the big picture as well as details, make all that work together to be emotionally and intellectually true.
Let’s make an analogy here: a president is in a foreign country making a life changing speech in his mother tongue. The interpreter, in charge of the translation, is speaking a very similar language, parent of the president’s language but not this particular one, doesn’t know anything about the context, nor the logic behind the speech. Do you really think the translation of this speech will be a life changing speech? I bet it won’t. Use this analogy replacing president by composer, interpreter by pianist, speech by work. You do the maths.
Here comes the point of the whole post, at last! We need time to research and process the information to reach an ethically acceptable interpretation. We need time to properly prepare an interpretation. We can’t just go on stage and see what happens, or improve interpretation on the fly. We have to deliver something which makes sense, something already mature, this is just a question of ethics and respect for the audience. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not advocating for a fixed interpretation not evolving with time, I’m advocating against an immature commonplace interpretation. In today’s music business, we have less and less time to think and we must play more and more works yearly, don’t you see that at some point the situation gets really tensed? Maybe in a couple of weeks you’ll see the “beta” sign appear on concert notes and fliers. It will just mean the same as for a software: low maturity and bugs are to expect.
Quantity has eroded quality. Who has the longest list of spectacular concerti? Who does play every single piece of the repertoire? In fact, it seems to be a race: who can do the highest number of notes per minute? Who can play everything? But is this really what music is about? Is that the reward of being a performer: people clapping because you play fast and loud? I mean are we going to compare our attributes until our death like teenagers?
Quality? Ethics? Respecting the audience? Non-senses. Get her a mini-skirt or invent him a story and we’ll sell this as it is: hype, glamour, sex, money and Rock n’… Classical music.
Maybe we can find there a reason why the general audience of classical music is shrinking: after being taken for fools for years, people finally decided to turn their back on the classical music industry. Isn’t it normal? I would frankly do the same. Music has become obsessed with figures and stats when it should be obsessed by quality and creativity. Remember there’s only one thing which degrades the musical experience: a low quality performance. And I am a performer to share with people this special experience, not to show my legs which I’m sure nobody wants to see anyway.