Lecture Notes until March 23rd. The first post apparently didn't show anything. So sorry!
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Wednesday, January 12, 2011
•“piano” means “soft” in Italian. Real name is actually “piano forte” - soft loud.
•Piano almost has a harp embedded into it because of the long strings.
•any instrument preceding piano as we know it, called “forte pianos” from 18th cent.
•Big diff between harpsichord and the piano - doesn’t pluck string, but hit by a hammer!
Allows for hit, ring and rapid repetition. Piano: resonance, sonority, COMPLEXITY.
There is a sympathetic vibration within the instrument which gives a sense of the sound
growing and flowing. SOFT>>>LOUD.
•motivation behind modern piano was to give impression of growing sound and
•HUMIDITY WAS AN ISSUE for the piano.. modern piano is made to withstand
fluctuations of temperature and humidity a little more.
Wednesday, January 19, 201: The Piano in 18th cent. Visual Culture and
Literature -domesticity and ‘female accomplishment’ - Haydn & Mozart
•CLASS - who has a piano, who can play a piano. JANE AUSTEN ERA.
•wider societal ramifications - changing class in society in mid 18th century.
•WOMEN - now no longer piano only associated with men.
•second half of the 18th century - really comes on as a FEMALE INSTRUMENT -
training and educational skills - becomes a symbol of female accomplishment.
•Piano being involved in larger nation building exercises - the way arts and culture are
bound up with politics - culture influencing nation building: using piano in the home,
primarily having it as a thing of female accomplishment BUT ALSO using piano for
educational development (women in private sphere, piano sits in home) MEN IN THE
PUBLIC SPHERE - NATION STATE DEPENDS ON THIS. They want busy, productive
citizens of society - POLITICS OF SOUND.
•Politics of sound around PASSIVITY - that’s the civilizing force of the piano,
contributing to nation building.
•Heart and Soul at piano + singing - ACCOMPANIMENT, communal singing - piano
fills in the background, providing that chordal base, instrumental accompaniment.
•Piano also described as a ONE PERSON ORCHESTRA - can provide all the parts
because it has the WHOLE RANGE of notes and octaves.
•So can be accompaniment or purely solo - piano.
•Because of its size, cost and weight - given pride of place in the home - put in the
parlour where it was public in home, usually next to fire for family elements - and people
around the piano for communal singing, gathering. Brains wired for music. Having the
piano in the home was essential feature. How many homes today have a piano? either
purchased, passed down etc. Served function: music making in the community.
•Film clips from Jane Austen - Elizabeth Bennet is singing in this scene “Why do I feel
this way?” - being introduced to her sexuality, burgeoning emotions, sensitivity towards
expressing love. Excitement of my first kiss - butterflies - flutter inside you about
exchanging those gestures.
•clip from Sense and Sensibility - character Mariana (KATE WINSLET - sensibility),
older sister (Emma Thompson) is sense. Father has died, left without a male provider -
meaning their social circumstances fall drastically in this gentrified society. The neighbor
comes and is drawn to Mariana who is playing the piano. Not by chance that we see
him riding up by horse at that exact moment - not idle. Coded gesture for HUMPING,
THE SEXUAL ACT - subtle jokes in Operas (Mozart etc.) To have a character ride up,
potentially looking for sexual conquest. Hunting for a WIFE. Already signaled and coded
in that clip. She (kate winslet) sings about “weep no more, softly sleeping” - dream
world. She has a real porcelain complexion. Image of beauty and serenity. Little curl to
admire the neck, little tendril to tantalize, very seductive 18th century gesture. He is in
the man of commerce. Her voice penetrates, he is attracted. Fact she sings about
dreaming, about potentiality of song to transport into this new feeling. MALE
DOMINANCE and FEMALE ADORATION. He stands at the door, she is seated sweetly
- HIGHLY GENDERED STUFF HERE. MALE GAZE - SHE IS THE OBJECT OF HIS
GAZE. Men have been part of the economy who have PRODUCED THE PIANO - made
the money for it to be there - but women are being given lessons, taught to play,
•understanding that music is not just sound - what you are hearing is VISUAL AS
•Desire we see built up int he time she is performing - we notice that because of the
intensity of this GAZE - music is aural and visual!
•Men in this gentrified british society, living off inheritances, servants etc. - LEISURED
•Women fill their idleness - and because they are idle, fact that they do not need to
work out in the fields etc in society, shows how privileged they are.
•WOMEN SEATED AT THE PIANO, DEMONSTRATED THEIR FEMALE
ACCOMPLISHMENT IN THE FINE ARTS (embroidery, needlework, fabric design,
ornament making, painting, learned foreign languages, reading to show literacy, not
taught elocution or rhetoric) - women didnt got to univeristy, entire education done at
home - one of the major female accomplishments though was MUSIC - MUSIC
•Being literate in reading music was big - but women not taught music theory,
composition - women weren’t taught to become the composers (men’s role still) - only
taught to read and play.
•MUSIC/PIANO TEACHERS WERE mainly MALE if they were considered reputable.
DEBASING YOURSELF by giving music lessons AS A WOMAN - UNACCEPTABLE
TO DO SO IN SOCIETY (unless of course if the husband died and female was
•Ladylike accomplishments were SINGING AND PLAYING ALONE - that is what men
admired. But You are showing this accomplishment to others when you are eligible for
MARRIAGE (married women wouldn’t do this). Showing themselves off, making their
ENTRANCE IN SOCIETY - eligible for marriage - to show deportment, attractiveness,
discipline, eligibility. They are wearing corsets as well for deportment. 18th century
playing style is much more restrained and controlled - sat upright and still, only moving
fingers - (CHANGES IN 19TH CENT) - but all this meant that you were going to be a
GOOD WIFE/CATCH - gracious, sensitive, virtuous, empathetic, good listener, will
educate the children - AND CAN CONTRIBUTE TO THE NATION BUILDING. (of
course that doesn’t last for long, because women soon get a VOICE!)
•ALBERTI BASS IN mozart aria - good fingers on keyboard, will be good for touching
the body HAHA!
•Male gaze on them, on display (women) - MALE DOMINANCE. Women not learning
out in public, only at home.
•18th cent. There were really narrow small pianos so save space - also may have had
high shelves above for needle, thread, supplies.
•In 19th century, pianos become more massive and decorative.
•Christofori pianos - not really ornate, legs not attached, paintings/artwork painted on
the wood top of grand piano that would be lifted.
•MALES WERE the “MUSICIANS” not the music players - playing cellos, violins,
•For women at the keyboard, it is all about decorum and knowing your place.
•MOZART: creating the professionalization of the music teacher, composer, working
with the publisher to sell and mass produce the music.
•Clementi important figure in the development of piano in classical period - helped
industry take off - demonstrating them through his own performances on tour - Clementi
would carry a range of instruments - really entered the publishng industry and really
became a wealthy businessman - wrote technique books (part of the development of
the industry) - showing flashy performances - INCREASING THE DEMAND FOR THE
•Haydn in 1790’s - all of his sonatas were dedicated to women (solos) - sung and
played by the same women.
•COURTING AT THE KEYBOARD. If the piano was encouraged as a female
instrument, when did men learn? Male teaching served more as a teaching as a
SCIENCE. Male rationality vs. female emotion. For men, it wasn’t really understanding
of music as a performed practice, it was more about SCIENCE. Understanding music as
a reason, composition - and to use it for the intellectual product that emerges from it.
Men also learned on the CLAVICHORD (smaller, plays quietly, play it in private
because it is so quiet, men could own it for their own keyboard enjoyment, study, in
library. - not in a public room though!)
Wednesday, January 26, 2011: The Piano in a Revolutionary Age - Beethoven
There is a sympathetic vibration within the instrument which gives a sense of the sound growing and flowing. Soft>>>loud: motivation behind modern piano was to give impression of growing sound and resonance, humidity was an issue for the piano modern piano is made to withstand fluctuations of temperature and humidity a little more. Wednesday, january 19, 201: the piano in 18th cent. Literature -domesticity and female accomplishment" - haydn & mozart: class - who has a piano, who can play a piano. Public sphere - nation state depends on this. Having the piano in the home was essential feature. How many homes today have a piano? either purchased, passed down etc. Excitement of my first kiss - butterflies - flutter inside you about exchanging those gestures. clip from sense and sensibility - character mariana (kate winslet - sensibility), older sister (emma thompson) is sense.