Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
~ Leonardo da Vinci
In any work, the performer must be aware of a single line from beginning to end that acts as its Super-melody. Clearly define it to yourself and in the moment of performance, try to dedicate 90% of your total energy – mental, expressive, emotional – to that single line. Everything else should be experienced peripherally.
Interpretation is not Democratic – it’s Autocratic, Monarchic. There’s a constant hierarchy. The general audience, no matter how sophisticated, is attracted to the surface energy, to the all-important melodic aspect of a work. Even 12-tone music is melodic, just not very singable.
When you watch a film, the director is aware in every frame what the central point is and he highlights it in such a way that the audience has no choice but to look at it. Have you ever watched an audience watch a film? Their eyes and heads turn as one, lead by the guiding hand of the Director.
Music is no different. The audience is going to follow the main melody as the composer has set it up. If you in your sophistication or lack of preparation give your present energy to anything but the melody, the audience will be unmoved and feel that something is missing. The main line will lack soul and the timing will be off. It’s color will be lack-luster, at times to the point of confusing the listener as to what’s really important, and then you’ve really lost the game. That’s when they wander and start wondering where they should go for coffee the next morning.
Keep a firm guiding hand on your listener by staying with them.
Let’s look at our Prelude again. This concept is essentially nothing new, except in its intensity and in its point of view. It’s not as much about the resulting sound as it is about you being aware of concentrating yourself into the main line and resisting the urge to look and feel elsewhere.
The best way to practice carving out a strong Super-melody pathway within yourself is to give it all of your energy. Take your everything-you’ve-got touch, you’re near-maximum of height/depth/weight/speed/compression/Level-IV (upper arm)/fingers-of-steel f to ff touch and apply it to every single note of your Super-melody.
It’s important to let everything else remain pp and passive. The point is about focusing not only for physical strength, but your mental and emotional as well. Don’t attempt to phrase or shape at first – let it remain a purely vertical exercise. If you feel tired or spent or experience any sensation of pain or discomfort, STOP. Shake the tension out of your arms. Take a few deep breaths. Usually this will pass within about 30 seconds or less, and then you can start playing again. NEVER PLAY THROUGH DISCOMFORT.
By the third time through, you’ll start experiencing less effort all-around. The emotional/mental/physical path is becoming wide and clear of clutter.
Now relax the dynamic intensity by a couple notches to give yourself enough room to shape the phrases as you go along, giving a highly energetic accent on each of the Energy Pillars.
Now lean back and play, passively taking in the Super-melody, with the colors and dynamics that you intend to use. You will likely experience the sensation at this point of great ease and virtuosity, as if the music is singing freely and shaping itself.
This is the Alpha and the Omega of interpretation. It’s where you begin defining your interpretation, where you need to return to occasionally to regain perspective, where you need to be often during the final practice sessions before performance to realign your intentions and be in top form, and where you need to be without fail in the moment of performance.