06 November 2010

On Analysis

It seems to me that the benefits of any musical analysis tend to be rather exclusively available to the person who performed it, and more or less unavailable to anyone who might later come upon the finished product. Think about the time that must go into preparing an analysis for peer-reviewed publication, then think about the time it takes to read said article. The author cannot possibly replicate in any reader the brute force with which such a process tattoos the material on their brain; to do so, the reader must become an analyst themselves, and they might as well start with the primary document, not someone else's reduction of it.

An analogy could be drawn to learning musical material by ear versus from written notation, the latter being more efficient because the content has in a sense been reduced, the former being presented in its purest form. To be candid, I feel that the fear of written music which prevails outside the classical world is largely irrational (maybe I'll tell you why later this month), but there's no denying that to learn by ear is to learn everything all at once, while reading, though it doesn't have to be this way, certainly enables the musician to gloss over important details that aren't on the page, often making it more difficult to add them back in than it would have been to learn them concurrently.

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