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RE: What "Unpopular" Glenn Gould Piece Do You Love?

I'm no expert on this topic, and I don't play the piano; I'm sure the
musicians in our group could respond more knowledgeably. Also, you should
take a look at the Bazzana book. However, I'll take a crack at it....

I think that "muscle memory" refers to the process by which, as a result of
practicing a piece repeatedly (gradually adding segments as each segment is
mastered, and memorizing incrementally as he proceeds), the player gets the
piece "in his fingers" -- ie. he is able to play it automatically (this
doesn't mean unemotionally -- it just means without conscious reference to
"remembered" visual [the notes on the page] or audible [the tune running
through his mind]correlatives). On the other hand, someone like GG already
has committed the piece to memory by reading the score ( I'm not sure
whether this is visual or audible recollection of the notes, or a
combination of the two).Someone who does this could also play any excerpt at
will, out of sequence, while muscle memory might depend in some cases  on
playing the entire piece through -- i.e., unless you start from the
beginning, you can't "remember" the whole thing.

Since, for GG, the piece was committed to memory before he touched the
keyboard, the process of "memorizing" was not intertwined with the process
of mastering the notes "motorically," with a prescribed fingering. Thus, he
probably played with whatever fingering came naturally to him, whether or
not it was "awkward" in the conventional sense.

-----Original Message-----
From: BONG [mailto:bong@iti.lt]
Sent: Thursday, March 09, 2000 1:34 PM
To: f_minor-og@email.rutgers.edu
Subject: Re: What "Unpopular" Glenn Gould Piece Do You Love?

> Re: GG's memory -- I recall from K. Bazzana's book that GG usually had
> completely memorized a piece from reading the score before he started
> playing it in the keyboard; thus, unlike most pianists, he relied on
> cognitive rather than muscle memory. This is why some of his fingering
> patterns are unorthodox, since he was playing from memory from the outset,
> rather than working out the piece section by section.

Could you expand a bit on the memory topic? What are the types of memory?
For example, I've never learned to play the piano but several days ago I sat
and memorized the 1th and the 9th prelude from WTCI. I can barely read notes
so I had to play everything from memory, looking at the keyboard all the
time and remembering the needed positions of my fingers. What sort of memory
is this?
As to Gould, does cognitive memory mean he remembered the notes visually or
the sounds "audibly"?  Does muscle memory mean a pianist feels the distance
between needed keys and doesn't have to look at the keyboard?

Juozas Rimas

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Anne M. Marble [mailto:amarble@abs.net]
> Sent: Tuesday, March 07, 2000 12:05 AM
> To: f_minor mailing list
> Subject: GG: What "Unpopular" Glenn Gould Piece Do You Love?
> There are a lot of Glenn Gould pieces that are "unpopular" even among his
> fans. For example, his Mozart and some of his controversial Beethoven
> recordings.
> Yet I find myself liking some of these pieces. A lot. For example, I love
> GG's recording of Mozart's Sonata Number 11. (My mother likes to crank
> one up in the car stereo. :-> ) Also, when the mood is right, I love his
> organ recordings of the first part of Art of the Fugue. (I listened to
> those while editing some technical documents tonight.) I adore his Brahms,
> which not everybody likes. I also love his recordings of the Haydyn
> and English Suites -- while they're not exactly among "unpopular"
> recordings, they are certainly controversial.
> So what "unpopular" (translation: controversial) GG recordings to you
> ------
> Anne M. Marble