PART ONE, THE CELLO

The Scale: An Example of Interpretation Technique

When I look around myself among students, orchestra and chamber music players, and concert artists, I realize again and again the amazing fact that interpretation technique is neither known nor developed; at all events, not enough emphasis is placed upon it. We are concerned here that the two spheres the mechanical and the musical-not be viewed as separate entities, but that it be recognized that artistic playing in music can only be reached through uniting the two. The simplest example: a scale.

Is a scale only a technical exerciser? What is practiced in a scale? What can and should be practiced in a scale? The answer to these questions is not as easy as it might appear, at least for me, because I am of the opinion that the real purpose of practice is to change an idea into reality. Therefore, it is necessary to have some idea beforehand in order to give meaning to the practicing. For me, as for all who consider a scale as something more than a group of consecutive notes played fairly cleanly, the ideal scale would be comparable to a row of pearls of equal size and lustre. Is such a perfectly-played scale only a matter of mechanics? Or is it not rather a musical challenge whicn must be met if a scale is called for in a piece?

What must be practiced, watched for, and accomplished to dojustice to a scale according to the very highest of musical demands?

1) Even articulation for each individual note, whether fingering, change in positions, or open strings are concerned.
2) As little difference as possible between going up the scale and going down.
3) Rhythmical independence of string and position change arranged so that, the notes are played on a string or in a position, groups of two or three note are formed.
4) No break in the scale because of bow changes.
5) Secure intonation.
6) Rhythm: a scale as practiced is a matter of mechanics.

Within a piece of music it is a musical phrase to which one can do justice only if one has completely mastered the mechanics of playing. What that requires, I have tried to show you above. In any case, in order to make the most of a scale, it is not enough to practice only for intonation and facility.

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