Senses and Sensibility: The Performer’s Intentions Between the Page and the Stage
If there is one trope that has become the lynchpin of the origin narratives of the young discipline of music performance studies, it is the idea that musical performance represents the “other” of the musical score. Many of the recent debates that effected a paradigm shift in music scholarship highlight the ontological and epistemological divergences between the score and musical performance, and also debunk the various myths and prejudices that have been woven around music performances and performers through the textualist paradigm, which essentialised and naturalised the musical score as the holder of “the music” and the source of disciplinary knowledge. Following the disciplinary “performative turn” during the twenty-first century, the effects of textualist habits of thought on scholarly discourses have been steadily on the wane. Nevertheless, the myth of a direct and immediate route between the score and performance—between the page and the stage—appears especially obstinate and continues to lurk around, particularly in the context of the analysis and performance literature. In this article, I discuss some of the embodied-affective processes that connect the page and the stage for performers, through case studies involving a Corrente by J. S. Bach, a keyboard sonata by Domenico Scarlatti, and an excerpt from Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini.