Home in the Range

Fascinating, yes, to hear two interpretations side by side. But don’t you think each had something to learn from the other? Did you notice how she played the soprano melodies more convincingly, and he played the bass ones better? Oh, you think her right hand is more capable than her left, and for him it’s the other way around? Maybe!

I think we identify unconsciously with voices that fall in our own vocal ranges. This jumped out at me one time in a certain young man’s playing. I suggested the idea to him, and he immediately played the soprano as well as he played the bass.

I was lucky that the suggestion cured his problem. It was like one of those stories about how Freud cured some famous person with one insightful remark; except that this fellow wasn’t famous, and I’m not Freud. Or it’s like those stories about Zen masters, except that I didn’t have to break his leg for him to find enlightenment.

By the way, it happens with dynamics, too: people usually identify with a rather narrow range of dynamics. When you hear ugly loud sounds, there’s a good chance that the player identifies with “soft”; and the reverse when you hear tentative soft playing. Very few people can identify with the full ranges of pitch and dynamics.

Copyright © James Boyk 2013. All rights reserved.
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