Boston- Roberto Poli – To really understand music, one needs to be more subjective. - Local news and entertainment for Boston's Historic South End.

The views expressed below match my own. I believe music interpretation can become overly intellectualized, and a recording or performance is often a mechanical and absolute reproduction, rather than soulful, thoughtful communication.


Roberto Poli, Piano Professor at The Rivers School Conservatory, is busy with his latest project, a book on musical theory called The Secret Life of Musical Notation: Defying Interpretive Traditions, due out this fall. The book focuses on how musical notation changes over time and examines the idea that some musical symbols might not be used the way the original composer intended.

A crescendo symbol, Poli explained as an example, is typically thought to tell the musician to increase the volume. However, in the past, the symbol could have been used to denote a different kind of volume change. [this statement too vague. I hope the book is much more clear and informed] When early classical composers were writing, the interpretation of musical notation was much more flexible than it is today.

"We have one meaning for each symbol and we apply it to everything," said Poli of how musicians understand musical notations now. "Not many people address the problem. We reproduce the score mechanically and we just do it.

Through his symposiums and his book, Poli said he wants to help both non-musicians and musicians better understand classical music. He hopes with the publication of his book musicians will learn that to really understand music, one needs to be more subjective.

"As performers, we adhere to printed music a little too much," he explained.

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