Lost in Translating

Realizing pieces as a performer is like translating a famous work of literature. Translators aren’t dismissed for what they do. No, they’re commended for it. These people bring works of inherent importance to our intention that wouldn’t of been possible for impatient language learners like myself.

A translator’s work is by no means just copying words down. By transporting a piece from one language to another, translators have the enormous endeavor of creative decision making: omitting words and phrases that the author’s style would not allow, assuming words and phrases that would strengthen the text more than a simple translation would allow, how the sentence structure is layed out, and on and on and on! It’s paradoxically simple and complex at the same time.

Don’t musicians make the same decisions? A score is like a text. Of course there are sometimes phrases and dynamic markings laid out, but it’s largely the performer’s creative decision making that bring a piece to life. Performers take the language of the sheet music and translate it into sonorous glory.

Musicians are translators too and share in the generosity of giving what we love to the world to love too. We find beauty in the score and want to share it with the world in a language that we all understand: music!


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