However, a musical composition started as a sonic idea in the composer’s mind. That idea consisted of many different characteristics from the moment it was conceived. A specific expression of emotion was connected to the sound before it was even put down on paper. The composer tried to convey this emotion by using dynamic, tempo, phrase, articulation and other markings. He was using a feeble collection of symbols to describe the sound that was in his head.
As musicians we need to investigate the pieces of music that we are practicing. This starts by identifying and understanding each musical symbol on the page. Next, these symbols must be considered within the context of the music, the time in which it was written and the composer who wrote it. Finally, we must read between the lines by connecting the symbols on the page with our knowledge and our own emotions. Based on what we see and what we know of music, we must ask ourselves, “What do I feel when playing this?” Then we must learn to properly express that feeling through our instrument.
A truly successful performance expresses more than just musical symbols. Top level performances capture the emotion suggested by the music, and convey that emotion to the audience. This aspect of musical performance is what causes an audience to want to listen. It also causes each performance to be unique, since the emotion of the piece is mixing with the performers own emotions. An audience can experience two performances of the same piece of music (by two different performers) and receive different interpretations. Every performance is a unique opportunity for a new expression to be presented.