Sketches from Michele Trenti's essays

Psychomotor Tension and Relaxation

Appunti di Michele Trenti

In its temporal development, a musical performance can be presented as a constant process of tension and relaxation, of increasing and decreasing energy, which results from the effect of the rhythmic, melodic, harmonic, dynamic, and timbre structures as well as from their organization into the formal relations of the piece being performed. Each interpreter arranges and controls this give-and-take between tension-relaxation on the basis of one’s personality and the effect of various external factors (the room’s acoustics, awareness of the audience’s presence, etc.). Among the factors that can "distract" or disturb this energy from being distributed according to the composition’s structure is certainly the profuse psychophysical effort of the act of performing. A performance’s gestural aspect may absorb–or, in other cases, conversely, increase–the expressive energy channeled into the musical discourse, altering the balance originally envisioned by the interpreter. Knowing how to listen as well as developing a clear idea of the formal organization of what is being performed contribute to resolving or minimizing this problem, one that has been insufficiently explored by both teaching methodologies, from a practical point of view, and musicology, from a theoretical one.