Monday, September 20, 2010

Is Your Art Fun?

Mozart's "Sonata for Two Pianos in D major" is the only formal composition made exclusively for two pianos. The sonata was composed for a performance he would give with his student and gifted fellow pianist, Josephine von Aurnhammer. This composition was often perceived as being intended as a learning piece for the student. But in actuality, it's more likely that Mozart, the teacher, composed it for himself, so he could recall how fun music was through the eyes of his student.

Often when we pursue art, we begin to absorb, "what is expected of us," the "traditional way" of doing things (like how to paint, make comics, sew a bag, etc), we become locked into a certain structure, learning how to copy from master paintings, we look to the next successful artist and try to be like them, we become rigid, we become so busy on striving to be a "great artist" that we forget how fun art is. In the same way, Mozart wanted to let go of his ego and musical mastery, and compositional structure, and trade it for the freedom and playfulness of a student again.

The "Sonata for Two Pianos" is composed in the gallant style with interlocking melodies and simultaneous cadences*. The music starts with the two pianos entering in synchronicity with a strong bold introduction. Then the higher sounding piano usually played by the student starts taking off in a gallop, while the teacher's piano plays the supporting bass, as it follows and repeats the playful rhythm of the first. This sonata is fun; it bounces, it frolics, it runs, and it gushes. It is one of his few pieces, with relatively simple and repeating movements. It is meant to be played as a "cantabile" - "songlike" in free-form as opposed to a fixed tempo or measure.

The piece has also been proven in scientific studies to have "the mozart effect." Listening to this piano sonata improves spatial reasoning skills and reduces the number of seizures in people with epilepsy and alleviates depression. It is not a coincidence that something fun to the creator really speaks to the heart of the mass.

It wasn't about complexity or showcasing his mastery over composition. It was about expression. It was pure fun.

Art should be like this every day. What you are doing now, should recall pure enjoyment.

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