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Among my top 3 or 4 all time favorite pieces of music is Francisco Tarrega’s Recuerdos de la Alhambra. It has been for some 20+ years. I’ve heard several classic guitarists play this piece and have even seen 2 or 3 live performances of it. From all of these various performances and recordings, no one plays the piece with more feeling or passion than Sharon Isbin (in my opinion).
In this video clip, you can see and hear both her technical prowess and her emotional expression. She feels the piece of music from deep within.
If the video won’t play, try this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1N77zyOXfIU
She has mastered an extremely difficult piece of music technically. The years of training and practice and discipline were crucial. She studied theory. She mastered the fundamentals. Yet, this training did not hinder her ability to fill the piece full of emotion. On the contrary, it enabled her to fill the piece full of emotion. Her training gave her the skills necessary to play the piece both technically and with feeling.
Could she, or anyone else for that matter, play the piece with such passion without years of rigorous training?
As I said, that is one of my favorite pieces of all time. It strikes a deep chord with me. I guarantee that I feel as passionately about that piece as just about anyone. But I cannot play it. Passion. Doesn’t. Replace. Skill.
On the other hand, I’ve heard many guitarists play that piece with technical mastery, but the performances had little emotion. They seemed lifeless by comparison. Technical skill doesn’t replace passion either.
Passion doesn’t replace skill.
And skill doesn’t replace passion.
Both are necessary... for a deeply moving performance such as this.
Likewise with your art, you must continue to study and develop your technical skills. The fundamentals of art are critical and important. I would suspect that Sharon Isbin still practices scales on a regular basis. Even if she doesn’t, she most certainly made them a part of her routine for many, many, many years. Don’t neglect the importance of learning and practicing the fundamentals.
But, just as important is to develop your emotional voice. Don’t neglect that either. Find what you feel passionately about and make that the focus of your art. Don’t try to force someone else’s vision or voice into your art. Create your own unique voice.
Some artists think that pure expression and feeling is all you need to create great art. It isn’t.
Other artists spend years training and master technique, but fail to find their voice. A pity.
Don’t allow yourself to fall into either of these two groups. Find the bridge that connects the academic and the emotional in your art. Develop both. That is where the deeply moving art is created.
Today's post is an updated version from a few years ago, but we're republishing it again today because it's still a timely and a very relevant message. Enjoy!
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