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Queen Guitar Rhapsodies

Interpretation And What It's All About

Three Keys to Total Immersion

You are likely to be familiar with the individual keys I describe below. Each of them is very important and critical to good playing and becoming a fine musician. When you put them together they add up to more than a sum of the parts - they become the guiding principle for your development as an artist. This may sound a bit grand but I hope that by the time you read to the end of the article you will agree.

These are the three keys:

1. Learning and understanding
2. Internalising and reflection
3. Externalising and projection

Here are a few words about each:

1. Learning and understanding
This is as long a process as is your proverbial piece of string. It may include memorising (which I would recommend) and it will certainly include reaching a state as close to mistake-free as you can get. It involves thinking about mood, dynamics, tempo, style, colour, and all the things that we associate with a convincing performance. But this is only the beginning of you reaching your goal of total immersion. Now you proceed to the second key.

2. Internalising and reflection
This is a stage which cannot be hurried. It can vary from days to weeks to months depending on the style, complexity and difficulty of the work. At this point your sub-conscious mind becomes really important. In stage one your conscious mind was grappling with aspects of technique, fingering and learning. All that has been largely sorted. The work is now close to coming under control. Yet (as no doubt is already familiar to you) you feel you have to live with it for it to become settled, assured and relaxed. It is no longer so important to keep practising it, for your subconscious mind is begiinning to take over. That is why you may have already found yourself humming or hearing the music in your mind quite unexpectedly when you are miles away from the instrument! These are wonderful moments which can give you great new insights, so let them flow without interruption even if you go into a daydream.

One day you will wake up and feel like playing it to someone close. Take care, you are close to being able to do so, but not quite there yet. You are now about to turn the third key!

3. Externalising and projection
You feel ready or nearly ready to play the piece to your friends, family and supporters. What else do you have to do, if anything, to make it happen to the best of your ability? Allow me to tell you a little personal story by way of an answer. When I was in my twenties I played a famous repertoire piece to a close relative. I had never played it to anyone else before. He was not a musician, which is good since unwittingly non-musicians can be both the harshest and at the same time the most honest critics. Once I had played he said “that was really good, but I think it needs more juice.” More juice is a perfect description of what I needed to do.

Externalising is the final stage of any interpretation. You can “feel” as sensitive as you like, and be moved by the music in your mind and in your heart, but that is no use to a listener if you are not showing it in your playing too. Externalising is all about subtly projecting yourself and the music, just as you project what you feel and think as a person. Some music may require “more juice” than other, for example Romantic music versus Baroque music. To draw (literally!) another comparison: you can be as subtle as painting in water colours or as bold as painting with oils. Your personality and your attitude will largely determine to which of the two extremes you are more inclined. But project you must, just as an actor does – and actors too vary in how they project according to their personality and attitude.

This has been my rough guide to the three keys to a total immersion in interpretation.

3rd July, 2013, Cádiz, Spain

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Printed from: http://www.carlosbonell.com/blog/?p=2546 .
© 2017.

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