1.3 Context of the research
Being a pianist in the 21st century one is confronted with a plurality of styles. The keyboard music covers a period of more than 300 years. Is it feasible to acquire an (active) knowledge of the musical language of each composer within all these styles? For most of us it is too ambitious. Yet this is requested from pianists. We play Johann Sebastian Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven, Arnold Schönberg and George Gershwin, to name but a few different composers. In the theory lessons the different techniques, forms, harmonies and tone systems that these composers use are discussed. But how do we (performers) apply this to our main subject? Often there is a huge gap between theory and practice. In part this is a justified gap. Music theory obviously has more goals then only serving the performing musician. It is also a science in itself in which reflection on music is of historical importance and leads to new insights. Often composers are also theoreticians and Arnold Schönberg is probably one of the most important examples of this duality. On the other hand, we can state that the need to reduce this gap in conservatories is still present and probably will remain so.
The theory therefore must certainly serve the performing musician, especially in their initial years at conservatory1, preferably from the first contact with a score. To ensure that we see the score in a wider context from the beginning of our practicing, I conceived the idea not to use the score in its original form during the first weeks or even month(s) in the study process of a new work. Could it therefore be possible to create an adapted version, a kind of lead sheet with room for improvisation, reconstruction and important harmonic patterns? We could use these exercises to stimulate the pianist to improvise, think in patterns and harmonic reductions.