classical music and The Sound

I’ve been a classical musician for over a decade now, and have learned quite a few things about the culture:

  1. There is at least an idea of a Sound that is superior to all other sounds. It is the goal of all musicians to find this Sound and play it at every performance.
  2. This Sound is almost as ambiguous as I described. It can take years of studying through use of abstract thinking and analogies in order to play with this Sound. It is what we call good sound, but why? Is there such thing as a “bad” sound?
  3. There is “no such thing as perfection”, but the closer to perfection you are– the more jobs you get within the CM world, the more recognized you become in CM culture.
  4. What is great playing? Great playing, as defined now in CM, is playing exactly what is written on the page but in a way that includes every IDEAL/VALUE that CM esteems. This is exactly as vague and elitest as it appears on the page. How does one include every value that CM esteems while playing a piece? Or what does it mean to do that? We learn, from professors, what the current (but usually the current is a reflection of the historic) interpretation of the piece is (how we use the bow for the piece, what kind of vibrato, what speed etc) and integrate that into our playing. So, one may ask, are there really individual interpretations of CM pieces?
  5. While we welcome women/femme performers to play, we do not invite them into the canon. Because the canon is set in stone. What is the canon? The canon is like a filing cabinet where we store all the pieces which are performed by major orchestras, chamber ensembles, or listed as the audition repertoire for incoming students. In short, it is what CM Guardians of past decided was “good” music and we compare all other pieces to these to ascertain their value.

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