Famous concert pianist plays a wrong note!

David Mellor

David Mellor is CEO and Course Director of Audio Masterclass. David has designed courses in audio education and training since 1986 and is the publisher and principal writer of Record-Producer.com.

Tuesday June 12, 2012
FREE EBOOK DOWNLOAD ►

It never ceases to amaze me that concert pianists can play such amazingly difficult music without ever hitting a wrong note. As an amateur pianist myself, I really do admire this almost incredible skill. I say 'almost incredible' because I understand how people such as these practise anything from six to ten hours a day, and sometimes even more. Practice clearly does make perfect.

So it was quite a surprise to hear virtuoso pianist Lang Lang hit a wrong note in a section of Gershwin's Rhapsody In Blue, in the Diamond Jubilee concert of June 2012. And here it is...

You could say that it could happen to anyone. Well it could happen to me, it could perhaps happen to you. But this is Lang Lang. I don't actually know why this happened, but I can guess. My first feeling is that there was a little edginess in general among some of the early performers in the concert. Perhaps the monitoring wasn't quite right. Maybe there was some kerfuffle going on that viewers and spectators were not otherwise aware of. Perhaps Lang Lang hadn't prepared to his normal concert standard.

But...

Perhaps we have come to expect too much of our performers. In an earlier era of musical performance, wrong notes were commonplace, even among the very best pianists. Listen to recordings by Schnabel, Cortot, Horowitz - their performances are unimpeachable in terms of musicality, expressiveness and communication with the audience. And the occasion slip, in those days, didn't seem to matter.

But then recording took over from concert performance as the primary output for performers' talents. And although a few slips during a live performance matter little, no-one wants to hear the same wrong note over and over on repeated listening. Since the late 1940s it has been easily possible to edit several takes together into a 'perfect' performance. Indeed, even in the days of tape a typical classical recording would very likely have one or two edits in every minute of audio.

So perhaps we have become too fussy over fine details and we are forgetting about musicality. Lang Lang's trademark in performance is his exuberance, and anyone hearing him play comes away from the concert a happier person. For that, I'll forgive the odd note that went wrong, in favor of the many thousands that he plays so wonderfully right!

Like, follow, and comment on this article at Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Instagram or the social network of your choice.

Come on the Audio Masterclass Pro Home Studio MiniCourse - 60 great hints and tips to get your home recording studio MOVING

It's FREE!

Get It Now >>

The Internet goes analogue!

How to choose an audio interface

Audio left-right test. Does it matter?

Electric guitar - compress before the amp, or after?

What is comb filtering? What does it sound like?

NEW: Audio crossfades come to Final Cut Pro X 10.4.9!

What is the difference between EQ and filters? *With Audio*

What difference will a preamp make to your recording?

Watch our video on linear phase filters and frequency response with the FabFilter Pro Q 2

Read our post on linear phase filters and frequency response with the Fabfilter Pro Q 2

Harmonic distortion with the Soundtoys Decapitator

What's the best height for studio monitors? Answer - Not too low!

What is the Red Book standard? Do I need to use it? Why?

Will floating point change the way we record?

Mixing: What is the 'Pedalboard Exception'?

The difference between mic level and line level

The problem with parallel compression that you didn't know you had. What it sounds like and how to fix it.

Compressing a snare drum to even out the level

What does parallel compression on vocals sound like?

How to automate tracks that have parallel compression

Why mono is better than stereo for recording vocals and dialogue

Clipping and compressing a drum recording to achieve an exciting sound texture

What can we learn about room acoustics from this image?

Can you hear the subtle effect of the knee control of the compressor? (With audio and video demonstrations)