Personal Style and Interpretation
by Renee Krimsier
Can you just decide to play, in a new way, new Interpretations?
Invent a new tone? Refuse influence from existing players?
Finally, What is a "personal style" after all?
I had a chuckle at your comments! It seems at times, especially at auditions, that there are just as many different impressions of a person's playing as there are judges on the committee! ( This from being on both sides of the panel!)
As far as refusing influence from existing players, I would have to say that we cannot really do that....we don't live in a vacuum; everything we do is informed by our experiences with people, environment, etc. I imagine one would have heard other players, even if one never studied with any, and would be influenced, either away from, or towards that style of flute playing. Either case is a reaction, even indifference is! Hopefully we all add elements of other great players into our own mix, and find and refine (or unrefine if we so choose!) a voice which is uniquely our own. Our bodies are all different, and our speaking voices are as well. I put forth that our sounds, however influenced, are also different! Maybe closer in concept to our teachers, or those we admire the most, but indeed our own. I listen as often as I can to other flutists, and have learned so much this way. The beautiful floated sound of Julius Baker, the bell like beauty of Rampal, the ooey airiness of Tom Nyfenger, the shimmer of Galway, the energy and intensity of Paula Robison, the refined beauty of James Pappoutsakis.....and many other players with something special have influenced me enormously. We all have this great luxury and ability to hear many many wonderful recordings....those are all influential. Our interpretation is informed by what voice we use, and indeed our voice by our interpretation! Just as we change and modulate our voices when we say different things ( I hope "I love you" is said in a different way than "I hate you"!) and all of us even say I love you in many different ways. I try to have a palate with a wide variety of my own tone colors and sounds to better give the music I am playing it's voice.
This of course brings us to interpretation. .. I hope we all feel that we wish to be true to the composers' intentions. I strive for this, and inform myself through much listening, reading and studying as to who and what they are. This is our point of departure. I strive for the fine balance between playing what is on the written page and playing it with my own voice in the way that I understand it. Education, sound and inspiration are all contributing factors. The interpretation is uniquely our own. After accomplishing the technical feats of playing the piece, we use our imagination to read the piece in the way we understand it, how it affects us. All of us, when we read a great book, probably have somewhat different reactions to scenes, and they are very personal experiences. Even when reading side by side with my husband, I can share my joy or sorrow, but it is my own experience at that moment. Often we won't have exactly the same reaction either....reading "John Adams" by David McCullough this summer I was in tears, struck very deeply by the integrity and service of this 2nd President. Both he and Jefferson were so very different, and both so central to the building of our country. My husband read it later, and though moved, didn't react as strongly. Did we interpret it differently, or just react to it differently? And how often are we reading the same word at the same time? I think perhaps the greatest things about the performing arts is the ability for the audience to experience the performance exactly at the same time, this shared moment of beauty, sadness, sprightliness......whatever! How joyful that we all don't always react in the same way to every performance. To hear and discuss after the fact others' opinions of the experience brings me great joy. And to share the same opinion is a wonderful intimate moment, whether it be with a friend or colleague.
Our personal style develops, hopefully forever. If someone says that they can tell I have studied with Julius Baker and can hear it in my sound, I feel honored. Others have said they hear Mr. Pappoutsakis's influence. Thank you!!! This doesn't mean that this is all that is there, I take it as a compliment. There will always be others with a different point of view, and that is what makes life so interesting.
All the best, and happy music making to everyone....now off to practice....!
Return to Teaching Tips