Glenn Gould’s Every Detail. But Why? – The New York Times

Gould goldberg transcriptionA new book transcribes Gould’s 1981 recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations. (Amazon.com, Amazon UK)

What’s its purpose? For whom is it intended? From what we know of Gould, he would have been baffled, even horrified, at the idea that a student learning the “Goldberg” Variations would precisely mimic his performance. He was too restless a thinker to consider any recording of his at all definitive. And imitating a pianist as idiosyncratic as Gould may not be a good idea for impressionable young musicians.

This reminds me of when I studied for a Master’s degree in applied linguistics in the 1990s. We did something called conversation analysis, where you would transcribe a conversation, with every “um” and “ah,” every pause, overlap, and so on. It gives you a better understanding of how people interact when speaking.

But for a specific recording of a specific piece of music? It seems like a naval-gazing experiment.

Source: Glenn Gould’s Every Detail. But Why? – The New York Times

2 thoughts on “Glenn Gould’s Every Detail. But Why? – The New York Times

  1. Gould is at his best when a concerto soloist. When performing by himself, “idiosyncratic” is hardly the word. “Self-indulgent” would be closer. There are more deeply insightful Goldbergs than his.

  2. Gould is at his best when a concerto soloist. When performing by himself, “idiosyncratic” is hardly the word. “Self-indulgent” would be closer. There are more deeply insightful Goldbergs than his.

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