Masterclasses & workshops

“Fingering must be honest”: An inconspicuously Schenkerian piano masterclass

In these workshops we pursue faded yet authentic origins of Schenker’s practice to pursue a synthesis of interpretive, physiological, and cognitive concerns relevant to the artist’s work on the repertoire. Borrowing theory and techniques from research in progress, we depart from a body of scholarship that frames the art of performance as an “analytical communication.” Less interested in the identity of analysis and performance than in their resonance and poetic gap, we explore how the work’s deep structures can function as “oracles” igniting the imagination, amplifiers of the expressive range, guidelines for fingerings and minute arm motions, as well as “litmus tests” for the communication of musical effects as intended.

Workshop participants normally have at least two years of formal harmony training. Basic skills in thoroughbass realization also come helpful, but no expertise in Schenker’s analytical technique is expected of the audience or the performing student. Drawing inspiration from fragmentarily documented “conservatory Schenker” practices of historic import, we call forth Schenker’s analytical metaphors and eloquent notation only as warranted by the musical and pianistic circumstances. Terminology is generally avoided, except with expressly interested and adequately prepared students. In line with Schenker’s explicit pedagogic guidelines (Free Composition, ¶49) we investigate interpretive ideas aurally, kinesthetically, and visually, alternating between keyboard and video-projected graphic work.

A technical summary is available on request.

Unraveling Chopin’s Etudes

With the Schenkerian diminution and reduction as primary tools of pianistic work, in these sessions we consider how a confident grasp of the Etudes’ harmonic-contrapuntal structure blurs the distinction between the “interpretive” and the “technical,” revealing a convergence of tonal design and ergonomic motion that helps dismantle persistent difficulties, occasionally with the surprising facility of a slip-knot. Taking Schenker’s Saint Augustinian precept at its word—“always the same but in a different way”—we articulate both the deeper tonal plot of each Etude and unifying principles for the uncountable variety of free pianistic movement. The seminar is based on pre-publication material.

Duration: 60–90mins per Etude.

Originally posted: 29 Aug 2018
Last updated: 14 Nov 2018