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Count! Or not.

What gives us permission to hear as we do? A great composer conceals the key in any number of ways: most annoying is, perhaps, an inconsistency in note values: e.g., what is that quarter-note doing there, when what I want (expect! demand!) is a consistent eighth-note? Question worth asking if the offending (!) composer’s first name is Wolfgang. Or why must I play this stupid (!) Alberti figure over and over again? Again, Wolfgang, your fault. Over and over the observation of composer Raphael Mostel comes to mind: “We have been Mozarted to death.”

Or have we? Why not take seriously the possible humor of that impish quarter-note; why not listen to every single sound within the Alberti figure as it resonates sympathetically with whatever else is sounding?

Usually the appropriate answer to those questions is that we have been taught not to do that. Count. Stay in time. Quarter-notes ueber alles…. hmmm hmmm. I’m not so sure.

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