The aesthetic of difficulty
Witt, Alexis L.
Master of Music
The purpose of this project is to present and elaborate upon the relatively unexplored concept of an aesthetic of "difficulty". The aesthetic of difficulty begins as compositional intent, is expressed through the experience of the performer, and ultimately is perceived by the listener. Difficulty itself, not to be confused with virtuosity, refers to segments or pieces of music that are uncomfortably challenging for the sake of intentionally sounding "hard" or labored. For example, when a knowledgeable composer purposefully writes a part that is unidiomatic for a particular instrument, or makes use of fingerings or ranges that would have been problematic in order to achieve an effect. Furthermore, this aesthetic is lost to the modern music world primarily because of the influence of recording technology on the perception of performance, and developments in instrument construction and design.
Music; Communication and the arts