Saturday, September 03, 2005

Editorial Scores

I realised that editorial publications of sheet music really attempts to shape how the music would sound, not just editorial phrasings but also fingerings as well. Things would probably be alright if I hadn't gotten an idea of how the music ought to sound before I started reading the score. But I really had that perfect music in my mind before I start practising that piece of music, and I find that if the editor has a different concept from me, the technical level would be a few notches higher if I follow the fingerings on it, as compared to when I just play according to how the editor shapes the phrases and devise the fingerings. I have learnt the importance of having the original manuscript of the music beside me. Yes, there may not be as much details as the editorial versions, but at least I know how much of the phrasings and fingerings are the editor's ideas and not the composer and that gives me more space to change fingerings and phrasings to make that piece sound more musical to me.

On the issue of fingerings, modern guitarists have advocated using fingerings that suit you the best, contrary to Segovia's teachings that a guitarist ought to follow the fingerings of the score closely, especially his. In fact, fingerings do play an important part in shaping the piece of music. It's really not about just getting the correct notes out. Sometimes, a phrase has to really convey that sense of huge geographical distance of the notes and it really spoils the phrase when the guitarist takes the easier way out and opt for an easier and less demanding fingering. Therefore, it's not really about using fingerings that suit you the best, but using fingerings that suit the music the best. Segovia was probably right about it, except for that fact that he has this absolute notion that his fingerings were the most musical and therefore the best. However, Segovia's rendition of a lot of pieces doesn't exactly sound musical to me, especially when it comes to baroque pieces. Well, devising good and musical fingerings really isn't easy and takes a lot of effort and knowledge of the music and the instrument, but it's an essential skill that most instrumentalists ought to pick up due to the huge number of scores that have substandard fingerings on them and they're most likely to be regarded as infallible by the inexperienced musicians.

Playing music has been tormenting due to some existing intonation problems, especially when a chord requires some notes on an open string and notes that needs to be held down onto the frets. I decided to forget about keeping those new strings and attempt to fix that intonation problem again. (As you know, when taking out the bridge to make some changes, you need to release the tension on the strings and that'll spoil the strings) Well, it's definitely much better now, maybe because the improvement of my filing technique after a few attempts at fixing that intonation problem on my guitar. At least the filing was much more even throughout the length of the bridge. Now, most of the notes wouldn't be more than 5 cents off their original equal temperament. I was right when it was the problem with the bridge and not with the spacing of the frets. I wouldn't be able to do much anyway if it was really the latter. Thank God, now I'm at least starting to love my guitar a little more...

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