Monday, July 6, 2009

Silence in the hall

Cute quote from pianist Orli Shaham I picked up on Twitter:

"One time I would like to do like they do in figure skating. I want the audience to applaud every time I nail a difficult passage."

Ha, ha! I feel that way sometimes sitting at my desk. I want the audience to applaud every time I nail a difficult paragraph. I had a friend Rose who, we used to have a joke about that. We used to joke about people applauding us as we did our jobs.

Orli's quote came from a Twitter entity called Virtuoso Voices that sends you musician quotes. I know I should write Miss Shaham but "Orli" is just so much fun to write instead! It is even fun to type. Orli.

Just now as I got my coffee I was thinking about what she said. I know that feeling. When you are playing the piano and you nail something, you would like affirmation in a way. After all they do that at pop concerts -- jazz, rock, blues. Except in rock or blues it does not matter how difficult the passage is, in my experience. A Hammond B3 player just holds that note and holds it, and people go nuts. I am not blaming them. I do, too. It is just one of those things.

One musician I interviewed, I forget who, told me there is evidence that suggests people behaved that way when Mozart played. They would be egging him on, yelling at him, "Go, man, go!" I will have to look up who it was that told me that.

So that kind of affirming behavior is appealing in a certain respect.

But I think we should in general keep things the way they are. Because if you open the door to spontaneous applause while the music is going on, you open the door to all kinds of annoyance, is the problem.

Who has not been to a jazz show where you have a know-it-all at the next table who has to applaud or go, "Oh, yeah," at everything? My friend Jeff Simon at work once nailed that in a review, how annoying that is. Someone by pianist Tommy Flanagan's elbow kept smiling and going, "Oh, yeah." Just to show off that he knew what was going on.

I applauded Jeff out loud for that one, I will tell you that!

Then at the blues shows I used to go to at the Lafayette Tap Room in downtown Buffalo there was a doofus who, when he wanted to express appreciation, used to raise his voice and wail like a fire siren. He would hold this high note forever and it would be right in your ear and all I can say is, good luck savoring a solo by Johnny "Clyde" Copeland while you are listening to that.

So, I'm sorry, Orli. All other things being equal I would just prefer to listen to your fine self instead of a lot of interference. With which, we celebrate you in this performance of the haunting second movement of the Mozart E minor piano/violin sonata.


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