Conference Presentation: Hitting the right notes: the artistic role of accuracy in the performance of unaccompanied solo clarinet repertoire
Society for Artistic Research (SAR) 10th Annual International Conference
Hosted by the Zurich University of the Arts, March 21-23 2019
For more information, please visit: https://sar2019.zhdk.ch
Note accuracy in classical music performance - playing the right notes at the right time in tune - is valued almost above all else from beginning instrumental music instruction to professional performance. As a clarinetist, accuracy is what will advance a musician from round-to-round in an orchestral audition, or grant admission to a prestigious competition. Accuracy will not, necessarily, win you the job or the top prize, but without it, you will definitely achieve neither. As a result, note accuracy has become a standard by which many musicians, myself included, judge failure in a performance. But is this an valid measure of failure, and more importantly, what is artistically lost by perpetuating this view?
Using unaccompanied solos from my own artistic research, I will demonstrate the role that accuracy plays in the way I prepare a piece, perform it, and reflect on the performance afterwards. The goal is to establish whether focusing on accuracy hinders or aids both the generation of musical ideas in the preparation of a solo unaccompanied work and the performer’s capabilities during a performance. I propose that while note accuracy plays a crucial role in the preparation of piece, the focus on accuracy must be abandoned in the later stages of preparation and in performance. While doing so might encourage ‘failure’ in a performance, i.e. a less notationally accurate performance, it opens the possibility for greater artistic development and experimentation.