“Do Not Look Into My Songs” I can sympathise with the poet Friedrich Rückert whilst reading his poem “Blicke mir nicht in die Lieder”, in which he asks his audience not to read his poems whilst he is in the process of writing. I really like how he uses nature imagery to support his request. For example, he explains that we do not intrude on bees whilst they build their cells and create their delicious honey, so perhaps the listener too can wait until the poem is finished, with the promise that they will get first dibs (a first read).
|Do Not Look Into My Songs! |
Do not look into my songs!
I lower my gaze,
As if caught in the act.
I dare not even trust myself
To watch them growing.
Your curiosity is treason.
Bees, when they build cells,
Let no one watch either,
And do not even watch themselves.
When the rich honeycombs
Have been brought to daylight,
You shall be the first to taste!
|Blicke mir nicht in die Lieder!|
Meine Augen schlag’ ich nieder,
Wie ertappt auf böser Tat.
Selber darf ich nicht getrauen,
Ihrem Wachsen zuzuschauen.
Deine Neugier ist Verrat!
Bienen, wenn sie Zellen bauen,
Lassen auch nicht zu sich schauen,
Schauen selbst auch nicht zu.
Wenn die reichen Honigwaben
Sie zu Tag gefördert haben,
Dann vor allen nasche du!
I came across this poem whilst learning Gustav Mahler’s Rückert Lieder song cycle. You can listen to this song on my album “Songs from the Balcony”. So that I could personally connect with the song and explore my interpretation, I thought about my own preparation process and how I would feel if someone listened before it was “finished”.
Preparing and learning new songs can be a very intimate and private process. When I learn a new song, there is a period when I need to do a lot of repetition and experimentation in order to memorise it. I will also need to sing certain phrases out of context and practice technical vocal drills to master the challenges the piece may present. This means that my practice does not always sound tuneful or relaxing to a listener. This can make me feel a little vulnerable or uneasy if I’m aware that someone can overhear my practice, but over the years I have learned not to be as shy or apologetic for my learning process. During my studies, George and I often discussed the different types of practice we would explore: note-bashing, memorising, translating, interpreting, dramatizing, and even performance practice. We often measured the effectiveness of our practice by how unfamiliar it sounded from the original score. This would suggest that we were working with a critical eye and focusing on the areas that needed extra attention rather than just playing from start to end.
There is however beauty in preparation and being able to watch something grow. For example, observing flowers grow from a single seed, can provide excitement at the first glimmer of a green stalk. Audiences like to see the bouquet at the end, but perhaps as artists, we need to be aware of the gardener’s curiosity and ability to admire a plant before its colourful petals have grown. However, Rückert encourages, that the artist does not feel rushed to deliver the musical bouquet before the song is truly mature. Good things come to those who wait.
However, if I have tickled your inner beekeeper’s curiosity, you can watch this cheerful and concise video by Maddie Moate, where she explains how bees make honey.
I am thrilled to share with you that I was awarded first prize in the Grand Metropolitan International Music Competition.