The use of metaphor is often a catalyst and manifestation of pianists' musical intentions in performance. It conveys how a piece of music might be understood—what it might 'tell' of. In a more practical sense however, these metaphors guide pianists' physical gestures—their tactile connection to the instrument—as they use metaphorical imagery to achieve the desired atmosphere of a musical work. For pianists, tone and touch are key to bringing their musical intentions to life. This research exposition thus investigates the complex connection between metaphor and pianistic touch through a series of experiments in Brahms's Intermezzo Op. 117 no. 1. Here, various metaphors derived from research into the background of the work and its creator were applied, resulting in multiple and differing interpretations—each with its own approach to tone and touch. By examining these varying approaches in light of scientific studies into the connection between metaphor and pianistic touch, we can conclude that metaphors do influence pianists' physical interaction with their instruments, that this interaction is complex but concrete and demonstrable, and that manipulations of this interaction can result in divergent interpretations of a single work. These findings should encourage pianists to develop different approaches to well-known works by experimenting with the application of various metaphors. This would not only expand their expressive and technical capabilities, but also push them to think outside the box and to move away from rigid assumptions about how musical works 'should' sound—which would ultimately contribute to their creative growth as musicians.
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