Technique (music)

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In music, the term technique (from Greek "τέχνη" - "art" or "trade") refers to the skills necessary to play a musical instrument (or to sing) with mastery, or sometimes to the tangible skills of musical composition (e.g. counterpoint, harmony, orchestration).

Often the term is misused by provincial music teachers to refer only to the dry aspects of musical practice, such as the repetitive drilling of scales and arpeggios, and one often hears the term wrongfully contrasted with "musicality," used to talk about the intangibles of musical expression. However, the term's origin in the Greek word for "art" is often brought up by teachers to emphasize that musicality is inseparable from the means used to produce it. The famous Russian piano pedagogue Heinrich Neuhaus wrote that "work on technique is work on tone," and explained that while a musician must posess good technique to play with a beautiful tone, a beautiful tone is "intimately connected with the spiritual qualities of the pupil."[1]


  1. Heinrich Neuhaus, trans. by K.A. Leibovich, The Art of Piano Playing, 1967.