Rules of piano music interpretation

Tips and piano interpretation rules for students.

As far as the general rules of interpretation are concerned, I will give a few which appertain to what might be called the syntax of music. Such are the following. An ascending passage should be played with a crescendo, a descending passage with a diminuendo. The pedal must be changed according to the harmonies, in order to blend the tones, and to enable notes to be held on which the fingers could not manage without its assistance. Rhythm, too, as distinct from time, must be clearly marked, so as to indicate where accents ought to fall, and to create atmosphere. Music played without true rhythm will always sound colorless and insipid.

piano interpretation


Time should also be well defined, that it may preserve the general form of the composition. Skillful use of all these means makes up the art of interpreting, and it is for the mentality of the pianist to employ them in their varying degrees, to moud them, combine them, and dispose of them, and thus invest the whole work with the pulsating breath of actuality. No doubt there must exist in the interpreter a natural good taste which will govern his outlook, and this can only spring from a sound musical instinct trained by education, and by hearing great artists perform. For it goes without saying that there are no absolute rules about interpretation. There can but be some broad outlines of style and taste to stimulate the imagination of the student, and help him in his task.
As I have already pointed out, the)interpretations of the masterpieces of music by great artists become established as traditions. Still the personal thought of the performer should make its influence felt in the rendering of all music, even of the most classical type, if that rendering is to be of any -real value and interest, only this personality has to conform to the general dicta of the style. Thus it will be found that no two fine artists will interpret a piece in the same way. There may be a thousan

G. 31. Opening subject of Chopin’s Prelude in F major.
I. Medium Tempo. Accompaniment very legato in the right hand and fingers very near the keyboard. No crescendo or diminuendo. The impression is one of complete tranquility or twilight. differences of expression in their particular performance, and each of them equally correct. This fact only illustrates how imagination and color may be infused into interpretation in much variety. For great musical compositions may well be compared to beautiful landscapes, which are ever-changing in color and effect through the action of atmospheric conditions. On no two days does the country look alike, yet its composition and outline remain fixed, everlasting.