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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?

At your level, I would say that it's a visual memory of the notes, their
clusterings and their overall patterns, as you see them while playing.
Some of the notes or chords are more important as signposts as you play,
and the other notes are filled in more or less by rote.  How much music
theory have you had?, this factor is key with some people who begin piano
relying on this approach.

>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?

The marvelous ability the mind has to 'remember' distances or leaps is a
minor part of muscle memory.  The way the notes fit the hands, along with
the succession of movements through at least the memorable parts of a piece
are more important.  This capability is linked closely with the memories of
the individual sounds and the memory of the flow of the overall music.
It's all quite mysterious... not least, to the player.  :)  I remember GG
saying that he didn't memorize the fingering of even the most difficult
passage, and this might be a clue as to how he memorized.

The ability for what I would call 'second-nature playing', is difficult to
develop.  Depending upon your starting age, the pathways of the brain
'centers' which are most closely involved must be renovated or 'rewired' to
some degree.  But when this goal is finally reached, the student will
probably continue to play music in some form and frequency, beyond-past and
through his or her other activities which demand less (specific) brain
development.  ;)  In other words, once the basics are mastered, playing
music will become a permanent part of your life.  Most students give up
before it becomes 'easy and fun'.  :(  I've found that their progress must
be monitored daily in the beginning so that frustration can be dealt with

Of course, memory for playing any instrument and any repertoire at the
higher level we usually talk about here, is comprised of visual, auditory,
muscle, theorectical memory and the ability for memorizing scores with all
their subtle info, not to mention a memory for musical history and styles
AND a memory of historic performances. ;)


>Juozas Rimas