The humming of Glenn Gould
listens to the recordings of Glenn Gould, one can often hear him
hum as he plays.
Often it is a completely different tune than the one his score
tells him to play. It is very obvious on those moments his creativity
as a composer is at work.
Gould is not only aware of the actual score, but also of a bigger
structure behind the notes he has to play. A structure he can
see in the composition.
It is as if Gould creates an unusual picture of the structure
of the composition, the themes, the climaxes, the shape etc.
He exceeds the emotional and psychological conditions necessary
to perform a piece.
not seem to be exclusively interpreting in an erudite, technical
and artistic way, but furthermore with a level of commitment to
His performance becomes an account of musical structure.
to a main tune one can do without thinking about the structure
of the composition. It is as if one drives a familiar route toward
ones destination. If at the same time one sings a different voice,
one needs to have a greater understanding of the structure of
Imagine you drive on the highway and decide to turn off; you need
to pay attention to the right moment to do so.
To simultaneously sing a completely new melody commends an understanding
that can be compared with an overview of the whole road map with
all the possible side roads and exits.
with the humming one can see gestures, like those of a conductor,
as if he is communicating with other performers.
and gestures are not for fun, they are as important as the characteristic
touch of an instrument.
One could say he connects the conceptual image of the composition
with the physical playing.
The most important aspect: he disconnects from that playing and
disappears into the inner world of his musical imagination.
Most Happy Piano
Born in Pittsburgh
in 1921, Errol Garner started playing piano at the age of two.
He never learned to read music, probably because it was never a
necessity for him. He learned to play the 'novelty' styles of Zez
Confrey and others from listening to 78 records, a style which
used steady left hand chord rhythms to support very free right-hand
This provided a perfect basis for the hard-swinging jazz style that
Garner was to pioneer.
At the age of seven, Garner began appearing on radio station KDKA
in Pittsburgh with a group called the Candy Kids, and by
the age of eleven he was playing on the Allegheny riverboats.
Garner began to attract attention after he moved to New York in
the early forties, and shortly afterwards he made his first recordings.
By 1950, Garner had established himself an international reputation,
and from that point until his death on January 2, 1977, he made
countless tours both at home and abroad, and produced a huge volume
of recorded work.
style evolved out of the 'novelty rags' of the twenties. More
contemporary jazz influences include Earl Hines, another
Pittsburgh native, and the rhythm compings of Freddie Green
(Count Basie's longtime guitarist).
But Garner was ultimately a very idiosyncratic player, and he
doesn't fit well into any of the standard piano style groupings
of 40's and 50's jazz.
His characteristic traits are of course his steady, guitaristic,
left hand compings, and, most obviously, his octaval treatments
of melodies and solo lines.
The major seventh arpeggio in octaves which introduces Garner's
biggest hit, Misty is an example.
Another typical Garnerism is the pizzicato, super-syncopated introduction.
These intros are often highly independent of the main part of
the piece. They range from fanciful to sassy, but always their
choppy staccato serves to highten the driving effect once Garner
turns on his relentless left hand rhythm.