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The material in this book is organized around certain principles which explain both the concept of musicality and its execution. By giving attention to those physical and aesthetic aspects of playing, the performer will be far better able to execute a substantially musical performance. Further, the teacher will be able to offer cues and visual devices that will facilitate musicality.
The first chapter, “Three Ingredients of Musicality”, defines the major features of the musical process. Awareness of the existence of these features helps the musician design his or her performance according to the inner laws of musical composition, not just its formal structure.
In this chapter, the author emphasizes the necessity of analyzing the music with special attention to its genetic roots. An understanding of where each musical element originates and how it absorbed and transformed the images of real life, gives a performer a valuable key for decoding the content of the music.
Part of Chapter 1 is also devoted to the consideration of taste. Emphasis is made on the controlling function of “taste”, which enables the performer to prevent excessive and irrelevant components.
The first chapter extends over the following five chapters toward the final chapter, creating an arch, or a bridge within the book. The fundamental principles of musical performance, stated in Chapter 1, become the basis on which a pianist builds his or her own personalized performance. Different aspects of the interpretational process are presented – from aesthetical to practical standpoints. These are the content of the final chapter of the book, Chapter 7, entitled, “Some Thoughts on Interpretation”.
Within the “bridge” between Chapter 1 and 7 are five central chapters:
Chapter 2: “Performer’s ‘Kit’ and its Most Mysterious aid – Energy”
Chapter 3: “Dynamics and Micro-Dynamics”
Chapter 4: “The Many Faces of Crescendo”
Chapter 5: “Kinetic Aspect of Musicality”
Chapter 6: “Body and Mind: Games of Deception”
Because of their content, these chapters can be subdivided into two groups.
One group includes Chapter 2, 3, and 4. The properties described in these chapters (inner energy, dynamics, and timing) are the essential aids for the creation of a musically appealing performance. Their “anatomy” is analyzed in many details. Special attention is given to the issue termed “micro-dynamics” in the book. This term refers to a micro-cosmos of the dynamic relations between the notes in every and any dynamic range. An additional concept is the classification of crescendo into six different types, depending on the shape and structure of the melody.
Careful analysis of all those factors gradually forms a practical method which should substantially increase the musical value of the performance. In other words, the performance becomes decent and intelligent.
Chapters 5 and 6 can be placed into the second group. Both chapters contain the description of various physical actions. These motions are called “kinetic aspect of musicality” in the book. They form the physiological foundation for the embodiment of musical concepts described in the previous chapters.
If Chapter 5 presents the technology of the execution of the movements, with the actions explained step by step, Chapter 6 offers the counterpoint. Chapter 6 is an explanation of the technology, but this type of pianistic “technology” is quite unusual. In order to obtain proper results, the pianist must, in many ways, deceive his or her muscles. He must send them delusive messages, thereby decreasing their enthusiasm. (The latter often results in physical tension, which deteriorates the musician’s ability to control sound production.)
One of the spheres where “deceptive” messages are very effective is in the production of colors (timbres), created by a performer for interpretational reasons. The focus on these “games” makes a smooth transition to the last chapter of the book which is devoted to the problems of interpretation.
Each concept in the book has a specific name, facilitating recall, and is identified with a specific graphic symbol, which, when written in the music, makes musicality much
Numerous musical examples are used throughout the book. These examples are taken from familiar piano literature used by teachers and students throughout the world.