When Liszt transcribed Paganini:

remix culture [was vital] was in the era before recording technology. Remixes back then required transcriptions and new performances of the pieces created, to make new pieces. Transcription/remix culture provides a set of parallels that might help us understand that what we are doing is not some odd form of new piracy, but instead a licensed continuation of a tradition that made sense and great music.

Liszt at 20 heard Paganini, then 50, perform. He was so swept away that he began to convert Pagainin’s violin studies into piano pieces. His remix (technically a transcription) of Paganini’s “A minor caprice (Nr. 24)” for piano both caused him controversy in his time and gives us a sense of his piano genius in our time.

Transcribing a violin piece for piano is like translating a poem. There would be some mechanical conversions, but also there would be spots that required the transcriber to get involved with the music at a qualitative level. The transcriber would need to understand the internal lines and structures, and since structures carry meaning they’re subjective enough that the transcriber would have to exercise their own taste and musicality. It would be a lot like orchestrating, arranging, or remixing.

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