AVA235: What is very nice about your blog-podcast is that Ausra and Vidas are like a Socratic dialogue
Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas!
Ausra: And Ausra!
V: Let’s start Episode 235 of #AskVidasAndAusra Podcast. This question was sent by Ron. He writes:
Hi Vidas and Ausra,
Thank you guys! What a wonderful response to my email note to you. You’ve got me right, and I feel you understand my level of playing (yes, at home, and lucky that I have an organ for that reason.) I am paying attention to this, and I am going to try this ha-ha-no-longer-secret model. Yes, and I love Cesar Franck, too.
What is very nice about your blog-podcast is that Ausra and Vidas are like a Socratic dialogue, and by bouncing things off of each other, so much more information comes out and is expressed.
Your comments contain a wealth of information and understanding.
I really appreciate this, it is very inspiring, and will keep us moving forward.
V: So, this is a very pleasant comment, right?
A: Yes, it is a very nice letter. It’s nice to know that people appreciate what we are doing.
V: I think Ron wrote us about the question with improvisation. Remember, we talked about how you can take any organ composition and apply it as a model.
A: Yes, I think we talked about it, yes.
V: And Ron, apparently, participates in our improvisation contests on Steamit.
A: That’s very nice. I actually enjoy his improvisations a lot.
V: And he’s improving. Advancing every week.
A: True. You know, if you will do that on a daily basis, you definitely will improve. It cannot be any other way.
V: How many years does it take to reach perfection, Ausra?
A: Well, I would say it’s never perfect. So, it takes many years.
V: And even at the end it’s not perfect.
V: But every day is better than the last, right?
A: That’s also true.
V: So that’s what we strive for—to be better ourselves than yesterday. And not necessarily to compare ourselves with others.
V: Do you have this habit of comparing Ausra with the masters?
A: Well, I had it before, earlier in my life, yes. I would compare myself to others.
V: To whom?
A: Well, other famous organists. But you know, then finally I realized that you cannot compare yourself to others, because you are not in the same situation as they were. So, it really doesn’t matter.
V: They never were in your shoes?
A: True. So each of us is unique with our own unique history.
V: And also you unique experiences and talents.
V: And, what is more important, combinations of those talents.
A: That’s right, so…
V: For example, a lot of people play the organ. Right? And if you compare yourself to others, you are just one in a million, or one in a hundred thousand—how many organists are playing on the Earth, I don’t know. Right?
V: But, you might have another hobby besides that. And then two hobbies combined, organ plus that other activity, you are already in the minority. Right? So, if you combine even the third activity that you are doing, then you are definitely unique on Earth, I think. Three things is more than enough to combine in order to be original.
A: Yes, that’s true. Do you think it’s important to be original?
V: No. I think somebody wiser than me said anyone who strives to be original never will be original.
V: Because originality is not the point. I think the point is something else. What is the point, Ausra?
A: Well, it depends on what we are talking about, because now when you talked about originality, I started to think about modern music.
A: And there was at some point that you had to show something original in your composition. If you wouldn’t do that, your composition would be “bad.”
V: And in certain circles, there is still this idea that you have to be original. You have to invent something.
A: But, I think that so much ugly music was composed…
V: Because of this.
A: Because of this yes, of trying in any way to be original.
V: And forgetting another concept. Not originality, but beauty.
A: True! But of course, when we are talking about beauty, you know, everybody has his own understanding of what beauty is. What’s beautiful music?
V: What’s a beautiful flower? Would you agree that any flower is beautiful?
A: Probably, yes, maybe with some exceptions.
V: Yeah, like a weed, right?
V: But still, when the dandelions or something, when they blossom they are beautiful.
A: True. But not on my lawn, probably!
V: Yeah. Tell them, “Get out! Find a new home!”
A: Yes, it’s true.
V: Our neighbors.
V: So, nature is always beautiful, and a man who imitates nature in earlier days, human endeavor also wanted to express beauty in this way, too. But today, simulating nature is not the point. Right? No longer the point.
A: Yes! Because now, you just take a picture if you want to simulate nature. That’s the easiest way to do it.
V: But if you take a picture, and a million other people take a picture, your picture will get lost, right? Because it’s just like any other picture. Of course, you could add your own unique touch. Something that, you know, other people would not do. And that’s enough, I think, to be original. To express yourself, your own experience.
A: So how would you apply it to the organ?
V: To organ performance, or organ creativity?
V: Let’s say in organ performance, when you have a composition which is created many years ago by the masters, and hundreds of other people are playing the same piece, they’re not playing the same piece in the same way.
A: But do you think that originality is very important when you are playing, let’s say, standard organ repertoire?
V: It depends how far you can go, right? We’ve all heard those strange performances of, let’s say, standard works, where originality is too strident, Right? Too obvious. And probably it distracts you from the piece.
A: But I guess the more famous you are, the more eccentric you can become. You know? If you are performing, then nobody will say, “Oh look how he played.” Because, “Oh wow, yes, he can do it, he’s a star.” Do you know what I mean?
V: I know what you mean! Ton Koopman, right?
A: I know!
V: We went to his recital last summer in the festival here in Vilnius. And his tempi were like maybe one third too fast.
A: And he’s a virtuosic performer, definitely. It was one of the most excellent performances that I’ve heard in my life. But still, some of those tempi raised for me a lot of questions. But you know, how can you doubt him? He’s star.
V: He can do whatever he wants, right?
V: And you and me, if we played this way….
A: I know or somebody else would do it, people would just think it’s crazy.
V: But, if you did it long enough, this would become part of your brand—part of your trademark.
A: Well, it’s also like Joris Verdin playing Franck. Very fast, no ritenuto at the end of a piece. Just gone, like a wind!
V: Right, because he discovered something about the discrepancies with the earlier metronome and the modern metronome markings. And it’s how it is devised, this metronome. So he says that in Franck’s day, metronomes were beating faster. And that’s why Franck’s music, in his view, should sound more virtuosic.
[This discussion continues in the next podcast episode. Stay tuned… And please send more of your questions. We love helping you grow.]
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Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
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