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allegro

Which is more important?

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Hi All

Just a quick one - I have heard, over and over, by may teachers, INTONATION is everything. Now, I have seen some students with fantastic intonation but no musicality, no grace in performance etc. and I did not enjoy the performance. Yet, some without perfect intonation, I enjoy.

What is your opinion?

Cheers,

Michael

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Michael, While we might know what you mean, it's an impossible question to answer, which you probably realise anyhow. Musicality naturally includes sound intonation, but sheer intonation cannot stand alone and it cannot be everything.

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Of course intonation isn't everything but it's basic to playing strings. Depending on the playing level you may be more or less tolerant of an occasional lapse in intonation. As the skill level rises you expect fewer problems with intonation. String students like all students will develop their skills at different rates so some may still be having problems with intonation even though their other skills are more advanced. You'll hear an occasional sour note in live performances that would be edited out of recordings demonstrating that intonation is a never ending struggle for string players and singers.

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Yesterday I had the distinct privilege of being a judge at a high school solo and ensemble festival, and worked with small ensembles. Bless their hearts, some were great and some were very unprepared. But my favorite performance of the day, one I will remember for a long time, was a bass and violin duet of a little Dancla polka-like piece. The violinist's technique was absolutely awful, but he somehow managed to play well enough in tune that I could tell what the true pitches were supposed to be, and he and she (the bassist) both obviously loved what they were playing. It was great stuff, and they made my day. I think (and told them) that with the joy they have in what they're doing, it seems to me that they have all the inspiration and kick they need to get to the next level; to make changes, one by one, that will allow them to develop what they want out of music.

Bless the teacher who found them that piece, and who encouraged them to enjoy it with the technique they had, rather than belaboring them with technical issues as I (perfectionist of Nordic origins) most likely would have done. This was an eye-opener to me; I'll be thinking about the implications for some time now.

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Michael,

You said that you enjoyed some performances without perfect intonation. What is in this word some? Does it mean some do some don't? Why is that?

From my experience there is no perfect intonation. Each performer will create its own intonation. For the audience this may result in different perceptions: some like it some don't.

Concerning your remark about grace in performance: do you prefer to see how good the player is or do you want to hear how good s/he is?

Suggestive movements are very misleading. I personally don't like a too excessive body movement. They finally bother me and prevent me from enjoying the music played.

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quote:


Originally posted by:
DutchViolins

You said that you enjoyed some performances without perfect intonation. What is in this word
some
? Does it mean some do some don't? Why is that?


The main reason is the musicality, expression and "passion". Some players are so technically perfect that they are not fun to watch. Interpretation of a piece is also important to me.

quote:


Originally posted by:
DutchViolins

Concerning your remark about
grace
in performance: do you prefer
to see
how good the player is or do you want
to hear
how good s/he is?

Suggestive movements are very misleading. I personally don't like a too excessive body movement. They finally bother me and prevent me from enjoying the music played.

Some players are both a joy to listen and to watch - my examples Vadim Repin, Vivianne Hagner, Vadim Gluzman.

Yes - I do not like excessive body movement. Not going to name them here but there are quite a few big names who I prefer to listen to and not watch.

Cheers,

Michael

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Allegro --- my opinion is that there isn't a clear-cut answer and that it depends largely on the type of music being played.

I love classical music and I expect the intonation to be perfect and the piece to be performed with passion and musicality.

But I also love "Old-Timey" fiddle. If you get a recording by Tommy Jarrell or many other old-timers, you'll enjoy the often 'close but not quite' intonation in both the playing and the singing. There's a weird charismatic quality to his playing that just seems to fit that style of music.

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