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Thread: What Defines a Musical Skater?

  1. #31
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    Re:Irina - while she wasn't the most polished or graceful skater out there, she was fantastic at presenting her programs. I'm not sure if that's artistry, but she sure could sell a program.

  2. #32
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    In dance, at least for me, the first step towards musicality is counting the 8's (or 3's) of the music and then timing your movements according to the beat of that counting. Steps are done with the beat of the music and sets of steps are grouped according to the music phrases. Then comes the characteristic of the music - whether its sharp or soft and your movement has to reflect that.

    I have no formal skating training but I am under the impression that the steps/moves are not learned while there is a music playing. Can a skater learn say a jump in such a way that maybe she reaches back on count 1, plants her toepick on count 2, rotates from count 2.5 - 3, and lands on count 4 (or maybe in a faster sequence of counts)? Can she time her brackets such that her count is and 1, and 2, and 3, and 4? I say basic musicality is as rigid as that. But when it comes to the skating program, I think the choreographer should be as responsible as the skater in making sure the steps intended are in time with the music - both rhythm, characteristics and the stress.

    Artistry, I would say is moving beyond being strictly musical and really feeling the music in your bones. Being expressive of the feel of the music, while being not musical, is ok I guess, but this overall lack of musicality in skating sometimes bothers me.

  3. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by janetfan View Post
    I never felt great musicality from any of the recent Russian male champions.Their musicality was good or even better than average but not that impressive to me. They were extremely dramattic and very theatrical - and of course technically superior. It was enough to win but not sure if any of them approached Kurt Browning at his best when it came to musical interpretation.
    This (relatively) recent Russian male champion says, "BOW DOWN to my superior musicality!" with his performances.


    Quote Originally Posted by Medusa View Post
    I feel that guys like Lysacek "Uhh, what's classical music? Is that something extraterrestrial?" and Joubert "Every time I expressed some melody with arms and upper body, would make me, OMG, g..g...ggg...ga...gay!" limit themselves, and the worst thing is - both do it on purpose. (Ahemm, those aren't literal quotes) Just go speedskating already, or play ice-hockey! But Joubert only after an Olympic medal, I still like him (don't look at me, heck, I'm only human and female on the top of it).

  4. #34
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    where Johnny and Evan differ greatest is in how they present and see both their music and their skating... Johnny is incredibly musical, but he skates inside himself and seemingly FOR himself. Not in a selfish way but it's like his own little secret. "This is how I feel and see and hear this music... if you get it great, if not, fine..."

    Evan is in your face and listens to the music and makes it work FOR HIM... he is not just skating the music, but he's not hitting every nuance of the piece either. He is all about the explosive power of music and uses the crescendos to help stir the emotion within himself and the audience (probably one of the many reasons why he uses the tried and true musical choices, he knows how and where it will stir the audience).

    I agree that you can be very good playing/singing and still not be musical... you have to truly feel and understand what you're playing/singing... I think passion in what you are doing/listening to/playing has a lot to do with it... I would argue that all skaters truly passionate in their sport and artform have a degree of musicality... some just more so than others...


    (and yes Kurt is possibly the best of all time, but then again I'm incredibly biased when it comes to him )

  5. #35
    Off the ice Buttercup's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Medusa View Post
    musicality has to be awakened, you have to allow yourself to get a feeling for melodies, for rhythms, you have to open up to the emotionality of music. You have to flow with it, take the different feelings, ideas, fantasies, imaginations and impulses the music initiates in you and turn them into movements.
    Really the entire post is great, but this in particular is a good observation.

    Joubert "Every time I expressed some melody with arms and upper body, would make me, OMG, g..g...ggg...ga...gay!"[/I] limit themselves, and the worst thing is - both do it on purpose. (Ahemm, those aren't literal quotes) Just go speedskating already, or play ice-hockey!
    The unfortunate thing is that I think Joubert is perfectly capable of being more expressive in his programs, but it's not in his comfort zone for competitive skating. After the Worlds gala, some people were really surprised - Joubert skating to non-techno, non-soundtrack music and doing it well! I wish he could bring some of that into his competitive programs. I don't know why he doesn't. Maybe he figures if it's not broken he shouldn't fix it. But I would like to see him with two programs next season that are musically and stylistically different from each other. Albena, Maxim, please make him do that!

    p.s. Joubert wanted to do hockey as a child but picked figure skating because he liked jumping. Ha, is anyone surprised?

  6. #36
    leave no stone unturned seniorita's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buttercup View Post
    p.s. Joubert wanted to do hockey as a child but picked figure skating because he liked jumping. Ha, is anyone surprised?
    Plushy also!!LOL, thats one common thing

    Abbott uses everything except for his face.
    SO true. So thats what it bothered me and i couldnt find what it was.

  7. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by janetfan View Post
    That is a very interesting reply and I almost used them for an example.
    What I wonder about is the fact that Caroline is supposedly a very good violin player. Caroline is a musician and AFAIK Rachael is not.

    We get into a question of technique here I think. Watching some of Caroline's Gala skates I would say she is the most musical skater of all the USA ladies. Watching Rachael skate competitively I see a young lady more assured of her technique. Her artistry and ability to express it looks more self assured to me than either Caroline or Mirai at this point.

    To me Rachael is a more artistic (to me that means she can express what she is trying to do very well) and Caroline is more musical but not always in competitive events. It shows up in her show skating.
    As a musician myself, I belive Caroline has a tremendous advantage over most skaters interpreting music but I see a need for stronger technique to realize her potential.

    That said, I think Rachael is musical skater but I think her technique and artistry are better at this point.
    This is very subjective and just my opinion and you may very well be right and I might be wrong.
    I am known to be a big Caroline fan.
    Flatt is a musician and has played the piano for over 10 years.
    See Hersh's comment in his blog:
    http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports...,3740434.story

  8. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nigel View Post
    Flatt is a musician and has played the piano for over 10 years.
    See Hersh's comment in his blog:
    http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports...,3740434.story
    Thanks for the link. Acording to comments by Rachael's coach and choerographer she REALLY needs to step up and improve her somewhat immature presentations and become more artisitic.
    I agree with them. It is mentioned that Lori picked Debussy to force Rachael to listen to the music more carefully, hoping her piano lesson would help her.

    Not exactly an endorsement of Rachael's musicality on ice when both her coach and choreographer note it as a weakness that needs improving.

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    Originally Posted by oleada
    Re:Irina - while she wasn't the most polished or graceful skater out there, she was fantastic at presenting her programs. I'm not sure if that's artistry, but she sure could sell a program.
    __________________________________________________ __

    I think that is a good point. The definitions of terms like "artistic," "musical." and "athletic" can be applied to skaters. These terms , depending on how they are used can have different meanings.

    In the USA the term "artistic" can be used for many things. We might describe a carpenter or woodworker, making some new kitchen cabinets by saying, "look at the beautiful cabinets he built. He is a real "artist."

    I watch aspects of Irina's skating, watch the beauty of some of her jumps and think, "Irina is such an artistic jumper." But I never thought of Irina as the most "lyrical" skater. But I thought she was a dynamic skater.

    Another term, "lyrical" to consider. Shizuka is frequently refered to as being a "lyrical" skater. I think that is used to describe her musicality - but doesn't it also apply to some of her positions and extensions? I could imagine watching Shiz skating over the ice, practicing without music and still think she might strike me as being lyrical. Am I now confusing lyrical with "beautiful."
    Do we do that with Sasha as well. And maybe Caroline?

    Kristi has not been mentioned, but I would always include her as being one the very most musical skaters.
    Last edited by janetfan; 07-14-2009 at 07:59 AM.

  9. #39
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    One of the most musical skaters, imo, is Oksana Baiul. I remember watching her short program from Worlds in 93. She became the music, her expression and movement went with every note and she was captivating. Kurt Browning is also awesome musically, he could just draw you in.

  10. #40
    L'art pour l'art Medusa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by janetfan View Post
    Another term, "lyrical" to consider. Shizuka is frequently refered to as being a "lyrical" skater. I think that is used to describe her musicality - but doesn't it also apply to some of her positions and extensions? I could imagine watching Shiz skating over the ice, practicing without music and still think she might strike me as being lyrical. Am I now confusing lyrical with "beautiful."
    Do we do that with Sasha as well. And maybe Caroline?
    I have no idea if Shizuka is musical or not - she just always skates to the same type of music, it always looks great because she is so elegant, has such great flexibility and extension and fantastic skating skills.

    Same goes for Miss Zhang, they don't skate to the music - they just try to match the music, which works well if you have those incredible highlights as their spiral sequences and the Ina Bauer and the spins.

    I wouldn't put Cohen into the same category, she skated to upbeat music and did it very well in my opinion.

  11. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Medusa View Post
    I have no idea if Shizuka is musical or not - she just always skates to the same type of music, it always looks great because she is so elegant, has such great flexibility and extension and fantastic skating skills.

    Same goes for Miss Zhang, they don't skate to the music - they just try to match the music, which works well if you have those incredible highlights as their spiral sequences and the Ina Bauer and the spins.

    I wouldn't put Cohen into the same category, she skated to upbeat music and did it very well in my opinion.
    Good points. It makes me wonder about another term - "expressive"
    Johnny may be considered more expressive than Jeremy - but I still see Jeremy as having a more musical flow than Johnny. Perhaps it is just a stylistic difference?

    Does a skater need to be so dramatic to be considered musical? Sasha is certainly more dramatic than Caroline. I think earlier you mentioned "shyness" as a factor in the abilty for skaters to express themselves and I think that must be true. We do see many of the younger skaters being able to perform the various elements but sometimes find them lacking in expression.

    Getting back to playing music - it is definitely true that "expression" is what separates a good musician from a pedestrian one.
    I remember growing up and having to learn "Moonlight Sonata" on the piano.
    After I learned to play the notes and use the pedals my teacher was still very unsatisfied with the way I played this dramatic piece.
    I remember finaly telling him, "I hate this piece, can't we learn a new piece already?

    Today I love "Moonlight Sonata" but when I was a young boy the expression this piece requires was simply missing from me. Just playing the right notes was not enough. Maybe we get this feeling at times when watching a skater doing one of their programs. They may be keeping up with the music but maybe they are not really expressing it as much as we would like. Some of this is so subjective as I find myself sometimes feeling the opposite way. That certain skaters are too dramatic - sometimes to the point of substituting drama for the actual rhythmic motion ot the music.

  12. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Medusa View Post
    they just try to match the music, which works well if you have those incredible highlights as their spiral sequences and the Ina Bauer and the spins.
    Well said

    Skaters who hit the SWELLs of the music with any skating trick for some reason captivate the audience. I do not find that defines a musical skater. For me it shows how clever the choreographer was to mislead the audience into thinking the skater had musical feelings. I would give a plus to skaters who use the Swells as showing some, but not all of TIMING required in a program.

    Imo, a skater should be defined as Bravura who sells difficulty to the audience. or should be defined as Lyrical who undersells the difficulty to the audience.
    (In general a good Bravura skater thrills the audience as he/she skates to the music, and a good Lyrical skater will leave the audience in awe. but only at the end of the program.

    The subheadings for Bravura and Lyrical are Dramatic and Comedic. In the case of figure skating I would add Competitive.

    From what I have read in the CoP, is that musicality is just a part of Interpretation, and one can either skate to the essence of a musical story, or skate to what the music does to a skater personally.

    It's difficult for me to believe that competitive skaters have the feeling of what their music is all about. It is better just to watch a clean program full of tricks with just a nod to the music.

  13. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joesitz View Post
    Well said

    Skaters who hit the SWELLs of the music with any skating trick for some reason captivate the audience. I do not find that defines a musical skater. For me it shows how clever the choreographer was to mislead the audience into thinking the skater had musical feelings. I would give a plus to skaters who use the Swells as showing some, but not all of TIMING required in a program.

    Imo, a skater should be defined as Bravura who sells difficulty to the audience. or should be defined as Lyrical who undersells the difficulty to the audience.
    (In general a good Bravura skater thrills the audience as he/she skates to the music, and a good Lyrical skater will leave the audience in awe. but only at the end of the program.

    The subheadings for Bravura and Lyrical are Dramatic and Comedic. In the case of figure skating I would add Competitive.

    From what I have read in the CoP, is that musicality is just a part of Interpretation, and one can either skate to the essence of a musical story, or skate to what the music does to a skater personally.

    It's difficult for me to believe that competitive skaters have the feeling of what their music is all about. It is better just to watch a clean program full of tricks with just a nod to the music.
    That is a terrific summary. The only thought I wonder about is this:

    "It's difficult for me to believe that competitive skaters have the feeling of what their music is all about."

    My thoughts on that statement would have to with understanding. If we go to a concert and listen to the music afterwards we might all have different ideas as to what the "music meant" because it is so subjective.

    I have sat around listening to composers and arrangers talk about different works and they can all have different ideas and feelings about a given work.
    Composers themselves at times find certain meanings attached to their works as humorous.
    "Sometimes the music is just music and sometimes the notes are just notes."

    That said, we can look to Opera and tone poems. "Carmen" is a musical story just as "Scheherazade" is based on a story.

    Some of Beethoven's symphonies were written to convey a special feeling as in the "Pastoral Symphony." But what about other works? How about Brahms Third symphony? Or Dvorak's "New World?" What is so "New World" about that famous symphony? It sounds totally European/Old World to me and Dvorak later admitted the title helped him become more successful with North American audiences .

    I think understanding and interpreting music is every bit as subjective as what makes a "musical skater." Some like drama or a more bravura style of skating. Others like a more lyrical style. But I think that as we watch skaters we do relate to them to a large extent by how they are relating to the music.
    Last edited by janetfan; 07-14-2009 at 10:26 AM.

  14. #44
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    This is an interesting discussion, certainly. Whenever I think of musicality, I think of Michelle. And to me, she can actually demonstrate how a skater gains musicality. Take a look at her in 1995, and then at Romanza and Salome in 1996. The difference is astonishing. I will never understand exactly what happened (in terms of coaching, choreo, and plain maturity and interest), but there you can see a skater blossom in terms of actually hearing the music and expressing it through her skating...

  15. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by janetfan View Post
    Thanks for the link. Acording to comments by Rachael's coach and choerographer she REALLY needs to step up and improve her somewhat immature presentations and become more artisitic.
    I agree with them. It is mentioned that Lori picked Debussy to force Rachael to listen to the music more carefully, hoping her piano lesson would help her.

    Not exactly an endorsement of Rachael's musicality on ice when both her coach and choreographer note it as a weakness that needs improving.
    !? Just wondering if we read the same article because I cannot read any of what you said into what Nichol or Tom Z were quoted on in Hersh's blog.

    Hey, we all know that you LOVE Caroline but you really don't need to nitpick on all the other US girls! Please take that with a grain of salt.

    Back to musicality: Musicality does include the need to study scores, the historical background and some understanding of the composer's intention. If you do not recognize or understand phrasing, dynamics, tones, chords, rhythm, melodies etc. you are, in my opinion, not musical. You can, of course, still emotionally relate to the music. Again, just my opiniom

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