Dial “M” for Musicology: Thinking with the ear

I just recently started reading this blog, and I can’t remember how I got turned on to it, but I really like today’s post. There’s a fairly long quote below. Click the link to read the whole thing.

Dial “M” for Musicology: Thinking with the ear:

“Last time I wrote about performance as a series of deliberative acts vs. performance in a ‘flow state’ and thought about what understanding of self and volition these two states entail. It got me thinking about an old friend — let’s call him Chuck — who was a music undergrad at the same time as me and with whom I played a little chamber music. This guy was one of the smartest people I’ve ever met in my life, a sponge for languages, ideas, literatures, whole fields of endeavor. His intellectual restlessness manifested itself in his approach to music; he was a seriously deliberative musician. When we played together, he would plan out everything that would happen in every phrase, every little pause and inflection worked out along the axis of a carefully-prepared analysis. And I, being at that time convinced that such an analytical orientation was indispensable for proper interpretation, went right along. I enjoyed the crossword-puzzle aspect of our rehearsals, the satisfying feeling of figuring out and verbalizing what he and I were to do at any given moment of the piece. But Chuck’s playing never lost a certain stiffness, a certain lack of organic cohesion—everything he played sounded as if it were made out of Tinkertoys. And it never really grew past a certain point, as Chuck admitted himself, which is why he ended up doing something else with his life (and meeting with a great deal of success). 

I’d go so far as to say that those musicians like Chuck, musicians who think of performance as a highly deliberative act, are at a disadvantage.”