The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: How do you cope with wrong notes you hit or hear? Pianist Stephen Hough has a healthy and helpful point of view.

June 23, 2013
8 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

None of us likes hitting wrong notes.

And most of us detest hearing wrong notes almost as much as making them.

But does that mean that we are being too perfectionist with ourselves and others?

It could be that wrong notes may lie at the heart of the musical experience as a LIVE event.

The outstanding, award-winning British pianist and prolific blogger Stephen Hough (below), who has played several times in Madison at the Wisconsin Union Theater and with the Madison Symphony Orchestra, recently posted a blog entry that dealt with that issue.

Hough_Stephen_color16

Hough makes some interesting and convincing points that might just help us in our own playing and performances.

And he backs up what he says with some personal and historic examples of wrong notes hit by some very famous musicians, including famed piano virtuoso Vladimir Horowitz (below top). (I forget who it was but somebody remarked that arch rival pianist Arthur Rubinstein (below bottom), renowned for his rich tone, often hit wrong notes. And the response was: “But what wrong notes!“

Vladimir Horowitz

artur rubinstein in moscow 1964

Anyway, here is a link to the blog post:

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/culture/stephenhough/100069499/aiming-for-perfection-whilst-embracing-mistakes/

Take a read and be sure to listen to the examples and read some of the comments left by others.

See what you think.

Then let the rest of know your reaction to Hough – and to how you cope with hitting or hearing wrong notes.

The Ear wants to hear.


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