Collaborative understandings in the preparation of a new work for viola and piano
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The interpretation of a musical work can draw on multiple sources including aural experiences, metaphors, written texts, and influential others, other works by the composer and interactions with the composer. These ‘experiential anchors’ resonate with previous musical experiences to inform an ‘interpretive platform’ from which a performer’s practice and performing process develops. As such, the first stage of learning a new work is vastly different for canonic repertoire than it is for a piece that is newly composed. This paper reports findings from a project of commissioned works that were received without explanatory program notes from the composers. This enabled a unique interrogation of the process through which an interpretative platform is built and negotiated. Focusing on a work for viola and piano composed by one of the authors, the collaborators share their individual interpretive frames with each other for the first time as part of the paper-writing process. The subsequent response and rethinking of the work, when underlying compositional thinking is given, is described as dialogue. The paper uncovers some of the differences and intersections that lead to a collaborative interpretive platform. They also reveal surprising insights into the hierarchical relationship between creator and interpreter.
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