The organic sound
The concept of the ‘Organic sound’ was sketched in my book titled (in French): ‘Le Moi intime du piano’ (Publisher: Van de Velde). Its further development as follows can be divided into five attributes whose synthesis opens us a new exploratory way to music.
We have to unify the three timbres of the piano within the vast span of the instrument (tessitura) which de facto generate three different worlds of sound. We usually tend to simply juxtapose the different types of sounds or even bring them into conflict with each other. Depending upon a note position on the keyboard, the sound it evokes can be compared to an organ, a string instrument, or a bell. The conceptual union of these three timbres is the outcome of an inner comprehension of the three different aesthetic sentiments: the resonance of the organ, the warmth of the violin, the purity of the bell (crystalline with ‘Steinway & Sons’, transparent with modern ‘C. Bechstein’)
The length of a sound is the complex acoustic result of the rapport that exists between the immediate sound (the temporal evolution of the sound made at the impact of the hammer on the strings) and the remnant sound (temporal evolution of longer duration resulting from the vibration up until the extinction of the body of resonance).
Projection in space
The spatiotemporal projection of sound can be experienced like a moving picture, a kind of ever lasting firework where the richness and the variety of the sound’s journey through space removes us from time and allows us to live in the moment of the music. By developing a sound of great length coupled with an elastic spatiotemporal projection, the modern piano suddenly appears in a new light without isolating itself radically from its ancestors: the clavichord, the harpsichord or the pianoforte. It is assigned a harmonious place within the orchestra, be it chamber or symphony.
The remarkable capacity to qualify the intensity of the sonority of a modern piano should always be shaped by a non percussive way of playing guided by a profound respect for the physical integrity of the instrument, based on the principle that union with the music is inseparable from union with the instrument. In effect, by thinking ‘soft’ when playing ‘loud’ and vice versa, we produce a high evocative sound which never sounds metallic or aggressive. Hence, the musical inflections will derive from ‘cantabile’ where the grace and the heart of the pianist will be the vector to a spiritual music.
Colour is the most remarkable quality of the modern piano where the same sound can freely take on, in every instant, all the degrees of colours from the softest velvet (round sound) to the most shimmering diamond (clear sound without excess). A fully coloured musical performance reveals the quintessence of the Art of the piano, an achieved one, where ‘musical freedom’, unshackled from its rigid bonds, is not just a vain expression.
Synthesis and emergence of an organic sound
The fluid union of these five properties, like the nourishing sap in a trunk of a tree, defines the ‘Organic sound’. By expanding this rural picture, it is possible to state that the inspired combination of multiple organic sounds doesn’t only create one species of tree, a unique musical work, but a whole forest of different music which we must navigate as if being guided by certain lights that invite us to follow them:
polyphony or ‘voice leading’ even in the frame of the ‘Galante Music’
the Italian ‘Bel Canto’ initiated by Maestro Scaramuzza
the ‘over-legato’, the ultimate expression of song
All the repertoire of the piano across the ages can be revivified by a rejuvenating musical vision, finally touching the ‘Inexpressible’, the term that was so dear to Claude Debussy.
Petersfield, February 21st 2012