April 1, 2012

Sounds and Silence

Music is more than tonality; it is the essence of sound. Of phrasing. Of silence. The musician has to listen to all the qualities of sound, and not only reproduce them but also interpret them as imagined in the head of the composer. The composer is an author, and the notes are his alphabet. “When playing a piece, the performer has to look inside himself, and act as a vessel of the composer’s mind.”

Tomoko gives some advice in analyzing a piece. “Each composition is unique. Look for the tone quality, the rhythmic sense, the articulation, the phrasing, the flow, and feeling that the sound evokes.” This analysis is important because “the performer needs to adjust to the composer.”

“The proper quality of sound is like speech,” Tomoko says. “Listen to the voice; is it quiet or loud? How does experience and feeling impact the sound? What kind of character do you think is the musician playing?” Tomoko likens musical phrasing and rests to speaking. “I listen very carefully because I don’t want to miss any commas when people speak English.” The difference is that the pianist conveys sound by touch, not speaking.

Silence is just as important. Tomoko practices early in the morning. “The brain becomes clear in the quiet.” Tomoko also says, “I can practice without sound: practicing coordination and recalling musical memories.”

You can hear how Tomoko makes her fingers sing. A good album to experience the varieties of sound quality is her “Baroque to 20th Century.” You can find it at https://www.cdbaby.com/cd/tomokohagiwara5

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