Has Technology Ruined Art? Part III: Future Music

 

Welcome back to our ongoing series on technology and art. First we talked about Technology’s Impact on Music, next we discussed How Social Media and Technology Has Impacted Art and Music and today we are going to discuss the future of Music and Art in relation to advances in technology.

 

We can sit and wonder what music will sound like in the future but there is no definitive answer. All we can do is speculate based on past technological advances and how it impacted music through history. As instruments got louder, concert halls got bigger, ensembles got larger and music changed dramatically.

 

When recording and radio technologies were created, music continued to grow and expand. No longer would you have to be present for a performance – it could be re-created for you through recording and broadcast through radio signals into your home and eventually your car. Audiences could number in the millions – which was never possible before.

 

Multi-track recording would then change music again by offering new ways to record and collaborate. Now you didn’t even need musicians to be in the same room anymore for them to appear on a recording together – they could be in a different time and place and simply edit themselves into a track.

 

Despite all these advances, older music will never die. Throughout time there will still be people playing Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin and all the music we know and love as Classical musicians. There will always be people honoring and immortalizing their works and it’s something that will probably stay true for every era of music – as long as someone keeps playing it the spirit, the sound, and the inspiration will never die.

 

So what does the future hold? As we’ve seen in the past, art is a form of expression that always seems to find a unique voice. One day someone will present something that you’ve never seen or heard before and they will find a unique voice within popular culture. What they will say and present is impossible to guess.

 

With the widespread adoption of social media and the prevalence of accessible art, I imagine the future of music will evolve around this concept where musicians can contribute to one-another’s projects and inspiration and unique ideas will come to the surface and inspire others. We have seen this type of work with remixes – which is just another word for arrangements or transcriptions. Popular beats and rhythms have been used to create new music and in the future it could be used to create something that no single person could ever conceive of.

 

As time goes on, new sounds will be created and in the hands of a master musician or composer we can hear something truly unique and interesting that has never been heard before. There is a lot to look forward to when it comes to the future of music in relation to technology.

 

Music will never be universally loved. You probably have some genres of music that don’t appeal to you and your tastes don’t appeal to others. This is one of the reasons that art is so incredible – it can speak to you individually and reach you personally like nobody else. I would love to hear your opinions on this subject and how you think technology will continue to affect art in both positive and negative ways.

 

Thanks again for joining us at Living Pianos. If you have any comments about this subject or any subject at all please contact us at: Info@LivingPianos.com (949) 244-3729

  Welcome back to our ongoing series on technology and art. First we talked about Technology’s Impact on Music, next we discussed How Social Media and Technology Has Impacted Art and Music and today we are going to discuss the future of Music and Art in relation to advances in technology.   We can sit and wonder what music will … Continue reading Has Technology Ruined Art? Part III: Future Music

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Is There a Wrong Way to Learn Piano?

 

Asking if there is a right or a wrong way to learn the piano is a really loaded question. There is no clear cut answer but I’m going to try and answer this the best I can based on my experience. I’ve had the opportunity to study with several great teachers including Constance Keene, Ruth Slenczynska, John Ogden and my father, Morton Estrin. Despite many techniques and approaches for learning the piano, there are some basic truths that are almost universal among fine teachers.

 

Being able to count your music is one of the most important things you must learn. Practicing with a metronome to check your rhythm and timing is something that is vital in developing as a musician. Yes, there are some truths that are somewhat universal. Why not universal? Because there is more than one way to approach the piano – if you watch other pianists you will notice very different techniques.

 

My father, Morton Estrin, was my only teacher through high school (other than some master classes in Austria). When I attended the Manhattan School of Music I gained the opportunity to work with other concert pianists. However, for most of my early development on the piano I studied with my father. He would describe playing the piano “with a quiet hand”. What he meant was that he used a minimal amount of motion and this is how I learned. I was taught to use as little motion as possible to produce the best sound I could. Now there are certainly techniques which require more motion (such as wrist technique) but the principles of his method are fundamental.

 

When I went away to music conservatory I was surprised by my new teacher. She taught me to allow more movement in my playing and loosen myself up a bit. Now my father’s technique wasn’t wrong but in experiencing another way to learn I was able to develop further as a pianist. I used aspects of both of their methods to create a technique all my own. As I’ve said in other videos, no two people are built exactly the same. What might work for one person won’t necessarily work for another. If you have small hands – like me – there are some aspects of playing piano where you will be limited and other areas where small hands provide advantages; the same goes for people with larger hands.

 

So there are many correct ways to approach the piano as well as many techniques that may not be reliable. You must find solid techniques that work for you. There are dozens of techniques for learning certain aspects of the piano and there are hundreds of opinions on what is right and what is wrong. There are two things that matter as you continue to learn about various techniques and improve as a pianist. One is if the technique works for you. Two is if the technique can be applied to a certain aspect of playing but not another. Many times a technique will be a great way to solve one problem but will leave you struggling in other areas. This is why adopting many different techniques and developing your own playing style is so important.

 

So yes, there are right and wrong techniques for learning the piano. If a technique works for you don’t be discouraged if someone else does it differently. Right and wrong is more of a subjective experience when it comes to learning piano and what works for one person might not always work for another.

 

Thanks again for joining me, Robert Estrin Robert@LivingPianos.com (949) 244-3729

  Asking if there is a right or a wrong way to learn the piano is a really loaded question. There is no clear cut answer but I’m going to try and answer this the best I can based on my experience. I’ve had the opportunity to study with several great teachers including Constance Keene, Ruth Slenczynska, John Ogden and … Continue reading Is There a Wrong Way to Learn Piano?

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Has Technology Ruined Art? Part II: The Connected World

 

Welcome back to our series on technology and art. If you missed Part 1, we discussed technology’s impact on art throughout history and how it has affected musicians in modern times. Today we are going to talk about the influence of social media, the internet, and the connected world’s impact on music and art.

 

At the end of the 19th century the Vorsetzer was invented. It was the first of it’s kind, a player-piano type of technology that could record performances with technical and musical accuracy recreating the original artists’ interpretation. No longer would you have to see a performance to hear it. Now you could sit and listen to the performer as if you were there – by having it re-created on a player system! Suddenly, the world of music became more connected and global.

 

When I was growing up and studying a piece of music, I would go to the store and buy a couple different recordings of the piece by different artists. I would get a good sense of how other pianists would approach the same piece but I was limited to what was available at the store. Today, things are much more accessible. All you have to do is open your internet browser and you’ll have access to dozens of different pianists playing the same piece!

 

What does this accessibility do to our music and art? You would think that it would be a great benefit, right? Not necessarily.

 

While music is much more accessible now, a somewhat vanilla approach has evolved. If you listen to recordings of performers from the 1930’s, you will hear a lot of differences in individual performances. The same piece played by Rachmaninoff is incredibly different from Hoffmann, Lhévinne, Horowitz or Rubinstein. The differences in each of their performances is drastic and very apparent. Today’s differences between artists don’t exhibit the same type of individuality in their performances. Why is this?

 

With the advent of technology and the availability of content and recording capabilities so accessible, we have experienced a deluge of content. With the quantity of content has come a homogenized approach to music – performances tend to sound more the same. This is because when there are countless examples of particular pieces, people will tend to emulate influences in their playing. Dramatically different interpretations may be considered “wrong” by some people accustomed to the norm created by the massive number of established perfomances.

 

On the other hand, music from other countries and cultures is more accessible and able to be heard by a global audience that has never been accessible before. Suddenly, we are able to experience music we have never heard before! This helps to develop musicians from different cultures with unique influences. Some of the most interesting new music being written today is a hybrid of different styles from around the world – much like culinary artists creating fusions of Asian, French, Spanish or other elements in their creations.

 

So the social reach and accessibility of music has both good and bad qualities. On one hand, everyone can hear new music and have access to new sounds and influences. On the other hand, we have somewhat of a simplification of style for musical performances as a new “normal” is established through recordings, and people tend to be somewhat fearful to stray from the established standard.

 

I’m very interested to hear your opinions on this topic and how it’s affected your own music and performances. Thanks again for joining us here at Living Pianos, if you have any questions or comments about this topic or any topic at all please contact us directly Info@LivingPianos.com (949) 244-3729.

  Welcome back to our series on technology and art. If you missed Part 1, we discussed technology’s impact on art throughout history and how it has affected musicians in modern times. Today we are going to talk about the influence of social media, the internet, and the connected world’s impact on music and art.   At the end of … Continue reading Has Technology Ruined Art? Part II: The Connected World

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Piano Lessons: Chopin Prelude No 4 (E minor)

 

Welcome to my ongoing series dedicated to specific pieces of repertoire. Today we will be covering the Chopin Prelude No. 4 (E minor). This was actually the very first piece of Chopin I ever studied so it holds a particularly special interest for me. As a kid I remember thinking that this was the most beautiful piece I’d ever heard and I couldn’t imagine playing anything better. Of course as time went on my tastes expanded, yet this piece is still one of my all-time favorites.

 

This is actually a very odd piece of music. If you just play the melody without the chords you will notice that it’s surprisingly simple. The real genius of this piece lies in the harmonization; the left hand has some truly exquisite chords. While the chords are extremely important, you will still want the melody to sing above everything else.

 

A very big mistake when it comes to playing the piano is continually using the pedal as a crutch to cover up sloppy playing. If you intend to learn this piece correctly and make it sing, you will need to achieve a true legato in both hands without the use of the pedal. Because of this, you will want to practice, learn and memorize this piece without using the pedal at first. Later when you feel confident in the sound you produce, you can add the pedal to create an even richer sound.

 

Another practice method is holding out the chords with the left-hand. Instead of playing all the chords as written, hold the repeated chords out instead of replaying them – so you can get a sense of the best fingering when switching between chords. You will find ways to maneuver your fingers and hands in ways that will connect the notes much better and create a seamless sound.

 

When combining the hands, you will want to make sure you get an extreme legato. I can’t tell you how many times I hear people playing this piece by simply using the pedal and playing short chords. While it might sound OK, it’s really not the best sound. You will create a much better sound if you use an extreme legato in both hands to allow the melody to sing above the thick chords. Use a constant arm weight supported by your fingers to bring out the melody in the right hand.

 

There really are dozens of different ways to perform this piece. If you search on YouTube you can find a number of different interpretations from incredible pianists. While the phrasing can change, you will always want to be rising or falling; the music must always be going somewhere.

 

Thanks again for joining me. If you would like more information about this piece or any others, we are currently in the midst of producing some thorough tutorials instead of just these helpful pointers. If you would like to be notified about these lessons please send me an email requesting more information at Robert@LivingPianos.com (949) 244-3729

  Welcome to my ongoing series dedicated to specific pieces of repertoire. Today we will be covering the Chopin Prelude No. 4 (E minor). This was actually the very first piece of Chopin I ever studied so it holds a particularly special interest for me. As a kid I remember thinking that this was the most beautiful piece I’d ever … Continue reading Piano Lessons: Chopin Prelude No 4 (E minor)

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Has Technology Ruined Art? Part I: Technology’s Impact

 

Welcome to the first in our three part series on technology’s impact on music. There are going to be people with very strong emotions on both sides of this discussion and I’m going to do my best to provide a neutral presentation. Today we are going to discuss the impact that technology has had on art and music.

 

It’s simple to point to current technologies and see how they have impacted musicians and music as a whole. Where there used to be live bands we now have DJs and sound systems – which in certain circumstances has put musicians out of work. Electronic music has been popular for decades and some people might not even consider some of it to be music in instances where there are no actual performances – just recordings. As we delve into the controversy between technology and music you can envision the arguments of each side start to form.

 

Let’s take a moment and put ourselves at the time before the piano existed and even before the harpsichord came to be. There was a point in time when these were considered new inventions and something that would change music – either for the better or for the worse depending on who you asked. We could go all the way back to the origins of music – the human voice – and probably find conflicting opinions as new instruments were slowly integrated into music; there was probably never a time without controversy.

 

Societies eventually move on and the technologies of each age will inevitably replace the technologies of old and it will have an impact on art. Take a look at the architecture of today and compare it to the architecture of a thousands years ago, or 100 years ago; the differences are striking. Some people will revere the older styles of art and architecture while others will embrace the new – but this phenomenon is timeless.

 

When it comes to art, it’s ultimately about the people making music, not just the technology utilized. The inventions and instruments are merely the tools employed by the artists – what they create is a product of their environment and the tools available to them. You might not personally enjoy the work that an artist creates with newer tools, but you shouldn’t discount the tools they use – they are merely vehicles of expression.

 

There can be a level of resentment from people who studied their whole lives to be skilled in particular instruments that are upstaged by people using newer technologies to replicate what they do in new ways.

 

The best thing we can do is simply create the music we want in the ways we are familiar with. There will always be audiences for great music – no matter what tools are used to create it. Reaching people and creating a sense of emotion is the goal of art and no particular method will limit you from doing this.

 

I would love to hear everyone’s opinions on this topic. Please contact us directly if you have any questions or comments about this subject or any musical subject at all: Info@LivingPianos.com (949) 244-3729

  Welcome to the first in our three part series on technology’s impact on music. There are going to be people with very strong emotions on both sides of this discussion and I’m going to do my best to provide a neutral presentation. Today we are going to discuss the impact that technology has had on art and music.   … Continue reading Has Technology Ruined Art? Part I: Technology’s Impact

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