AESTHETICS FOR BIRDS

Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art for Everyone


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ON THE AESTHETICS OF PLAYING PIANO

In the penultimate measure of the first movement Clementi’s Sonatina No. 36, there is a short cascade of notes:

This sonatina is often used as a teaching piece, because it’s a great introduction for the early intermediate pianist to the techniques required in more complicated piano pieces. This little cascade is a good example of why. It’s short, only eight notes long. In the numbering system every beginner learns, your thumbs are ones; your pinkies, fives. The G and A keys are right next to each other on the keyboard, and one might expect that the prescribed fingering of two adjacent notes would require two adjacent fingers. Perhaps, because the sequence continues down the keys, the four and five fingers, so that other fingers are properly positioned to reach the next notes.

But that’s not what happens. The G is struck with the thumb, and the A with the fourth finger. To do this, one must curl the edges of the palm toward each other like a taco. Then, the second finger crosses over to reach the D, the third follows to strike the E, and then the sequence repeats. 1, 4, 2, 3. Continue reading


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“…AS ORNITHOLOGY IS FOR THE BIRDS” BY DONALD BROOK

Almost everyone takes Barnett Newman’s remark that ‘Aesthetics is for the artist as Ornithology is for the birds’ to be insightfully true.

In spite of this the sense in which it is true is seldom clearly spelled out, and the sense in which it is not true is almost universally ignored despite the obvious ease with which it can be spelled out. Continue reading