Just confirmed: I am a genius.
That is, if horrible handwriting is an indicator of genius, my brilliance far outshines my shadow.
“Ah but, if this is true, then every doctor must be a genius too”, you say (of course, no self-respecting M.D. would dare write a legible drug prescription. That frisson of potential medical malpractice suits is so addictive!).
What’s fascinating to me:
- Not only are the notes themselves unintelligible (or Gould-only-intelligible), but there’s so much scribbling that the music itself is unreadable!
- Lots of numbers and codes. Perhaps details about metre, finger positioning, track number. Dunno.
- Use of red for highlighting information.
- The note-making process is a key part of how Gould learns the mechanics of a piece (finger-placement, etc.).
- Score annotation is an essential part of the memorization process (what some music teachers call “cementing”). When viewing a video clip at the Ottawa exhibit, I saw Gould in interaction with a producer, who told him after a take that a note was inaudible in his performance. Gould asked him the measure, and promptly cut in the passage for studio editing. Seems he had a precise visual memory of the score, like an orchestra conductor.
- Obviously, since the scribbles cover the notes, the sheet music wasn’t used for performance. The music score in this case becomes a preparation document for musical interpretation. Gould really had structure and details all memorized, and used the approach of a conductor when playing music, often conducting himself with his hand, or even his body sway. In other words, his annotations are those of a conductor.
My conclusion? I got confirmation at this exhibit that Gould was truly breaking from of the “read-only” culture of concert appearances and making inroads into the “read-write” culture of studio manipulation, in his life-long pursuit of the philosophy of open-ended composition.