Musical Expression from the Performer's Point of View

George Langley
1911 Proceedings of the Musical Association  
IN music the term "Expression" has a twofold meaning. It may, on the one hand, refer to the inherent expression contained in the music-the expression of the composer's mind-or, on the other hand, to the manner in which the music is played; in other words, to the degree of truth with which the performer reflects in his rendering the expression contained in the music. This twofold aspect of expression belongs in a lesser degree to poetry, and results from the nature of the medium employed. In
more » ... respect music and poetry differ from the concrete arts, painting and sculpture. Notes and words do not embody the author's mind in the same degree as colours and design. Of course, even a fine picture may make no appeal to the observer; but in such case nothing more can be done. It is the complete expression of the artist's mind, both as creator and performer. It is the very thing itself. But in a musical composition the notes are merely symbols-symbols of sounds, which are the real medium of expression employed; so that a musical composition needs re-presenting by performance. These symbols then must be translated into the sounds which they represent. Music is a language of sound, and its appeal is to the ear. It does not affect the question that persons can hear the sounds by merely looking at the notes ; for even then the process of translation into sound goes on
doi:10.1093/jrma/38.1.1 fatcat:h33o5j2cbncd5eqmklflyzw2te