Killing me softly Beethoven

I reconnected with a friend who is a music major and he said that he was not going to pursue a career as a concert pianist because he thought he wasn’t good enough. He said he doesn’t think he is good enough at interpretation. I mean early Baroque music could not really be played loud and soft because the piano didn’t have the capacity to do so yet. So now when played all the crescendos and louds and softs were added in to suit the ‘pianoforte’, the author did not put them there, yet they are generally accepted as part of the work. Similarly what did a crescendo mean to the deaf Ludwig van Beethoven? I don’t exactly remember how we came about to this topic that night but i tried applying Chatman’s theory of the implied author to Music. It’s really very hard to do so. It works with literature and with film but there are problems.

I don’t believe that music is very different from film, I mean the modernists have been drawing parallels between the two for a long time now. Music’s component of reproduction is not present in the other medias. This sets it apart from the novel or a film.For music to achieve it’s full potential it must be transformed from notational form to audio waves. This is being done by a person who is not the composer, can we then say that with music there is always a narrator, the person interpreting the piece?

Now, back to Beethoven, growing progressively deaf, continually producing music. This little fact affects our reading of the text, should it not? I mean shouldn’t the interpreter bear in mind that during his career his music underwent a drastic change of scale in terms of timbre and style. When did that shift occur? Is it wrong to play his later music with the same treatment as his earlier work? I am trying, here, to understand whether a piece of information as such changes the nature of the implied author. Does it matter enough that we must make a distinction in the implied author prior to deafness and post? I surely do think so because then i can comfort myself as a concert pianist saying that i am being true to my material and true in my interpretation. But if the real author is undergoing such radical changes that causes his perception to shift, that would cause a ripple affect throughout Chatman’s theory right down to the real reader. Then Foucault goes ahead and asks ‘What does it matter who is speaking?’ Then… what does it matter how we interpret? Then isn’t my friend’s claim that he isn’t good enough at interpretation only a value judgement becuase there then would be no ‘correct’ way of interpreting [classical] music unlike the common misconception.

XoXo Waylon


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