The Language of Music
A painter hangs his or her finished pictures on a wall,and everyone can see it. A composer writes a work,but no one can hear it until it is performed.Professional singers and players have greatresponsibilities, for the composer is utterlydependent on them. A student of music needs aslong and as arduous a training to become aperformer as a medical student needs to become adoctor. Most training is concerned with technique,for musicians have to have the muscularproficiency of an athlete or a ballet dancer. Singers practice breathing every day, as theirvocal chords would be inadequate without controlled muscular support. String playerspractice moving the fingers of the left hand up and down, while drawing the bow to and frowith the right arm—two entirely different movements.
Singers and instruments have to be able to get every note perfectly in tune. Pianists arespared this particular anxiety, for the notes are already there, waiting for them, and it is thepiano tuner’s responsibility to tune the instrument for them. But they have their owndifficulties; the hammers that hit the string have to be coaxed not to sound like percussion,and each overlapping tone has to sound clear.
This problem of getting clear texture is one that confronts student conductors: they haveto learn to know every note of the music and how it should sound, and they have to aim atcontrolling these sound with fanatical but selfless authority.
Technique is of no use unless it is combined with musical knowledge and understanding.Great artists are those who are so thoroughly at home in the language of music that they canenjoy performing works written in any century.