EXACTLY! Great Zoë Keating interview

Zoë Keating: Composing a Fever Pitch

Some wonderful quotes:

“I love it when people hear something in my music that I didn’t hear, and when they have some vision of what it is that is not my vision. That’s fantastic, because it’s like these pieces go on to have multiple lives.”

“[A choreographer working to her music] has no idea about their origins, because I never told her! The thing is that after I write the pieces, they take on all these different meanings, both for me and for listeners. I love that.”

“The thing with writing music is you have some sort of an inspiration that makes you write a piece. But when you succeed writing music, it transcends things, so it can mean lots of different things at different times. If you think about the music you like to listen to, it probably doesn’t have just one meaning to you.”

We have got to get rid of this garbage attitude in classical music that there is one Ur-Way To Perform A Piece, according to the godlike dead spirit of the composer, and if we only channel exactly how he would have done it (always a he, natch), his dead spirit will rise from the grave and be with us tonight! It’s like a seance, and it’s stifling. No wonder the whole attitude came to be in the age of a bunch of death-obsessed spirit-medium-babbling Victorians. How would BACH have done it? How would MOZART have done it? I even remember one interview with a concert pianist (thankfully I do not remember his name, because I’m about to call him a complete jackass) insisting that any musician, when they play their own interpretation of a piece — only one of course — was de facto stating that everyone else’s interpretation was wrong! What a blithering moron.

You know, there’s a time and place for a historically accurate performance, but come on … they’re DEAD, people. And I’m sure they wouldn’t have felt that there was only one exact, precise way to perform their piece, and that the only way the performer can inject their own individuality is by holding a fermata for one zillionth of a second more or less, or playing a single note heavier or lighter. Jesus, what sort of music is this that the performer’s own individuality is shoved into such brutally small cracks, and the One Godlike Overarching Way To Play It takes up all the rest of the space? Did it ever really take up all that space when the composer wrote it? (Okay, maybe Beethoven, but he was a pushy, egotistical bastard, and either way, he’s still dead so who cares?)

I like arranging Haendel, and yes, it sounds like Haendel written by Billy Joel while trying to fake Beethoven. Who cares? Haendel didn’t buy my damned piano.

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