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Thread: What Defines a Musical Skater?

  1. #46
    Banned janetfan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alicja View Post
    !? 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! [SIZE="1"]Please take that with a grain of salt.[/SIZE]

    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
    Here are quotes from the Hersh article:

    "This year she needs to step up in terms of maturity," Zakrajsek said.

    That explains why her choreographer, Lori Nichol, chose excepts from Debussy tone poems for Flatt's free skate. The impressionistic music forces her to develop more refined interpretive skills, and her years of piano lessons help.

    I did read the article very early this morning and perhaps I am guilty of reading more into it than what is stated. :o

    But I do think Rachael needs a more mature style - or just more of any style - if she is to take the next step and challenge skaters like Joannie, Miki, etc.
    I think she is musical enough - and Lori has chosen music with the purpose of making Rachael develope a more mature style. I think that is good and hope Rachael does well this year. I like Rachael and think she is the best all around USA Lady skater at the moment. I do see more potential in Caroline and Mirai but potential does not beat performance. And maybe Rachael will show us more developement this season than any of the other younger USA ladies.

    As to musicality you are right - but don't see how skaters who don't read music will be able to interpret scores. And most music editions today can be very far from the composer's original intent, particularly regarding phrasing but I would include dynamic markings and tempos as well.

    Many teachers like to use "Peters Editions" because in many cases there is very little or NO articulations and dynamic markings included in the music. Many teachers prefer to add these themselves and pass on their own knowledge and feelings about a score.

    "G Schirmer" and "International Music" take the opposite approach and have many scores edited by artist players.
    In either case the original intent of the composer is not so readily available to music students as they may have been lost in time, or simply changed over the centuries.

  2. #47
    leave no stone unturned seniorita's Avatar
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    At last someone explained me what is bravura and what not, thank you Joe!

  3. #48
    Custom Title Joesitz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by janetfan View Post
    That is a terrific summary. The only thought I wonder about is this:

    "[FONT="Arial Black"]It's difficult for me to believe that competitive skaters have the feeling of what their music is all about[/FONT]."

    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.
    Good post, JFan.

    What prompted me to say that competitive skaters are not inclined to "sell" the feelings of the music in their programs (other than the crescendos) is 1) they are worried about the elements in the program moreso than displaying any emotion gained from the music itself., and [I]2) they are not worldly enough to know what the composer was feeling at the time of his creation.[/] and 3) almost all skaters are at a loss to interpret the feelings of music without a character in a story.

    The preceding paragraph is just my opinion.

    When discussing the great composers, what interests me is the Conductor of a great orchestra, and it begs the question (by me) Is he the best conductor of that piece of music? Of course, the answer lies in subjectivity (preference) of a judgement, but when compared to other conductors one must realize that all of them have knowledge of the composer's work they are playing.

    I do not like to read about other posters claims who are the best musical skaters in today's figure skating world because it takes away from the more serious aspects of the topic, I will mention Michal Brezina.

    While he has not yet reached his peak in Performance, his musicality, for me, is more than just beginning. His competitive prowess is another matter and that remains to be seen equally.

  4. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joesitz View Post
    Good post, JFan.

    What prompted me to say that competitive skaters are not inclined to "sell" the feelings of the music in their programs (other than the crescendos) is 1) they are worried about the elements in the program moreso than displaying any emotion gained from the music itself., and [I]2) they are not worldly enough to know what the composer was feeling at the time of his creation.[/] and 3) almost all skaters are at a loss to interpret the feelings of music without a character in a story.

    The preceding paragraph is just my opinion.

    When discussing the great composers, what interests me is the Conductor of a great orchestra, and it begs the question (by me) Is he the best conductor of that piece of music? Of course, the answer lies in subjectivity (preference) of a judgement, but when compared to other conductors one must realize that all of them have knowledge of the composer's work they are playing.

    I do not like to read about other posters claims who are the best musical skaters in today's figure skating world because it takes away from the more serious aspects of the topic, I will mention Michal Brezina.

    While he has not yet reached his peak in Performance, his musicality, for me, is more than just beginning. His competitive prowess is another matter and that remains to be seen equally.
    I agree with your first paragraph and maybe that is a reason skaters like portraying a character so much. I think Kat did a better job intepreting the character of Carmen that she did interpreting the music.

    I would recommend a book called "The Great Conductors" by Harold Schonberg. I have read several other books by him including "The Great Pianists" and "Lives of The Great Composers." I think his books are available at librairies and in some bookstores. They are easy enough to order over the net.
    Getting away from classical music, "The Big Bands" by George Simon is a wonderful book about the Big Band era and has some interesting things about arranging, a topic along with orchestration that is overlooked by many.

    As you probably know musicians are not always so fond of conductors. And composers can be more critical of conductors than just about anybody.
    Bernstein conducting his own music is great. Hearing him conducting the classics - umm, for me, growing up in Philly - his tempos are typically too fast. Many are aware of the various "stimulants" Bernstein ingested and I always wondered if he was too "hopped up" at recording dates.
    Listen to Bernstein and NY Philharmonic play "Scheherazade" and then listen to Ormandy/Philadelphia Orchestra recording from 1961 with Angel Brusilov, concertmaster and violin solist. At times it almost sounds like different pieces due to Bernstein's fast tempos.

    Sorry - so far off topic. There are many good books about conductors and they are usually very interesting to read.
    And don't forget orchestrators - they had much to do with Wagner's music.
    So much of the great music from the American theatre was orchestrated and conducted at the record dates by Robert Russell Bennett.
    Showboat, Oklahoma, South Pacific, Porgy and Bess Concert Suite, The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, The king and I, Camelot, and so, so many more were all taken from piano sketches and orchestrated into some of the nicest music of the 20th century by Bennett.
    Last edited by janetfan; 07-14-2009 at 02:05 PM.

  5. #50
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    I think this is still a pretty subjective quality to define. I don't know that it's terribly easy to make a distinction between artistry and musicality. Since everyone else seems to be making juxtapositions I will too. For me, it's the difference between Sasha Cohen and Michelle Kwan. While I find Sasha Cohen to be beautiful on the ice I would describe her as being artistic and yet not particular musical. Michelle on the other hand has both qualities for me. Sasha Cohen's movements are "artful." The musicality aspect to me is pretty simple. For me, it's when the skater actually seems to be creating the music, that it's almost being composed alongside the skater as she skates. When I watch Michelle Kwan's Salome, for example, it is as though her movements almost dictate the music we hear backing her performance, not the other way around.

  6. #51
    Banned janetfan's Avatar
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    Here are clips of Rachael and Caroline from last seasons' WTT. It is their Gala performance and both are skated to some lyrical Pop music.

    First Rachael:

    [url]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qh0rkUG6x3U[/url]

    And next Caroline:

    [url]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_f_gQ4_6WmU[/url]


    Any thoughts on the musicality, the lyrical quality and expression?


    It would be nice to hear some comments and then maybe someone else can put up two skaters for a comparison.


    a few examples might be:
    Michelle /Sasha
    Jeremy/Johnny
    Lambiel/Buttle

    or Pairs, or whatever might be interesting to consider in the off season

  7. #52
    Thank God for Stephane Lambiel and Matt Savoie! shine's Avatar
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    Nicole Bobek was also one of the most musical singles skaters I've seen. I also think Oksana Baiul and Carolina Kostner are both extremely musical. And there was, of course, Yukina Ota.

    As for men, I'd have to say Stephane Lambiel, Matt Savoie and Silvio Smalun. And Kurt Browning and Toller Cranston from the past.
    Last edited by shine; 07-14-2009 at 04:51 PM.

  8. #53
    Custom Title Joesitz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeff goldblum View Post
    I think this is still a pretty subjective quality to define. I don't know that it's terribly easy to make a distinction between artistry and musicality. Since everyone else seems to be making juxtapositions I will too. For me, it's the difference between Sasha Cohen and Michelle Kwan. While I find Sasha Cohen to be beautiful on the ice I would describe her as being artistic and yet not particular musical. Michelle on the other hand has both qualities for me. Sasha Cohen's movements are "artful." The musicality aspect to me is pretty simple. For me, it's when the skater actually seems to be creating the music, that it's almost being composed alongside the skater as she skates. When I watch Michelle Kwan's Salome, for example, it is as though her movements almost dictate the music we hear backing her performance, not the other way around.
    Sorry Jeff, but I can not agree with the use of skating personalities as examples without defining the topic. Discussing Kwan and Cohen will just lead to whomever one favors and we are left with nothing about what musicality is all about. I know it is not easy to separate 'art' from 'music', but they are entwined along with many other aspects of their nature, and also quite different.

    For me, if a skaing fan can only discuss his/her favorite with relation to 'art' and 'musicality' then I just think we can read that on any topic in the Forum.:indiff:

    btw, I was once a big Kwaniac, and if I were to use her as an example I would be biased. I try hard to eliminate prejudice from serious topics. But that's just me. Also btw, Cohen did some really wonderful SPs as a competitor and show skater. She lost me when she went after the sugary music as a faux ballerina who really stessed acrobatics. Nothing wrong with acrobatics. Figure skating has turned to that ancient dance form in all its disciplines. It gets high points.

    As Florio Tosca sings in the presence of Scarpia. I only live for Art and Love.

  9. #54
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    This performance by Flatt is showing her musicality....
    and her improvement.
    [url]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qh0rkUG6x3U[/url]
    (2009 World Team Trophy exhibition)

  10. #55
    Banned janetfan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nigel View Post
    This performance by Flatt is showing her musicality....
    and her improvement.
    [url]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qh0rkUG6x3U[/url]
    (2009 World Team Trophy exhibition)

    That is the same clip I put up three posts ago with Caroline's WTT Gala skate

    Is there a different example you might use to demonstrate Rachael's musicality?
    I like that performance enough but not so sure about the "flapping arms." They do appear to be different - but look like a choreographed attempt to show emotion. It is different seeing a lady skater do this so I like the originality.
    Last edited by janetfan; 07-14-2009 at 06:25 PM.

  11. #56
    leave no stone unturned seniorita's Avatar
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    I didnt know there are serious and not serious topics, maybe there should be a flag to notify the posterYes a michelle/sasha comparisson could lead in a polls topic, but examples are helping a lot and give a hint about what someone thinks. Par example, Brezina was a great example.

  12. #57
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    I think Joannie has developed into a wonderfully musical skater. She has gained the ability to skate to different genres of music and has learned to pick up the nuances in the music. My two favorite exhibition programs from her:

    Vole - 2007. A moving performance for me:
    [url]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yigfyocJ7oY[/url]

    2008 - Summertime. This program is where Joannie's breakthrough occurred:
    [url]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctIsQN4F9bw[/url]

  13. #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by seniorita View Post
    I didnt know there are serious and not serious topics, maybe there should be a flag to notify the posterYes a michelle/sasha comparisson could lead in a polls topic, but examples are helping a lot and give a hint about what someone thinks. Par example, Brezina was a great example.

    There are serious posters and not serious posters. But all topics are serious except for one
    [SIZE="1"]The Plushy topic lives on[/SIZE]

  14. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by i love to skate View Post
    I think Joannie has developed into a wonderfully musical skater. She has gained the ability to skate to different genres of music and has learned to pick up the nuances in the music. My two favorite exhibition programs from her:

    Vole - 2007. A moving performance for me:
    [url]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yigfyocJ7oY[/url]

    2008 - Summertime. This program is where Joannie's breakthrough occurred:
    [url]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctIsQN4F9bw[/url]
    I agree - beautiful skating! I liked the first clip better but both were nice.
    Joannie looks so comfortable and I never appreciated how musical and artisitic she can be.

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    Yes, Buttle is a very musical/artistic skater

    Quote Originally Posted by seniorita View Post
    Jeffry Buttle was musical, right???I mean this is my idea of musicallity.
    Stephan was artistic,and I m debating if he was that musical as Buttle. I think not.

    I mean i could watch buttle skating to anything of a music without choreography, while stephan gives me performances of a character with music or not, do i make sense?

    I must be the last one on earth that cant see the so much musicality of Yuna. I see drama and theatrical superiority.

    Does a musical skater must know to be musical in all kind of music pieces???
    I could watch Jeffrey Buttle skate to any type of music and he will make it awesome. He has the music right down to his fingertips. Does not matter the music, Jeff takes it and makes it his own.

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