7. The Anxiety-Free or "Sans souci" Technique
The Craft of Musical Communication by Keith Hill and Marianne Ploger, ©2005
We call this technique "sans souci" because it is designed to create moments in the music which give the feeling of shrugging the shoulders, throwing up the hands in a gesture to say, "Don't take all this so seriously!! Live a little!! Stop controlling!! Let go! Be happy!! Don't worry so much!! In other words, "sans souci" without a care!”
That is, when the alignment of notes in the score suggests that the notes be performed strictly simultaneously, they are rather to be purposely jumbled or played in an irregular or a staggering manner to create a careless (sans souci) effect. A rose by any other name smells as sweet - whether you call it a sans souci technique or tempo rubato or jazzy feeling, the idea of relaxed effortlessness is paramount in the feeling which this technique gives to music.
Anxiety rubs off on all who observe it. A musician who is concerned and anxious about making mistakes generates a feeling of anxiety in the audience through body language, the sound, and through the way the music is presented -
Physical tension and mental stress create anxiety; attention and relaxation dispel anxiety.
Mechanical, metrical, and regular playing creates anxiety; inégal, irregular, and logical playing eliminate anxiety.
Obsessions with relatively meaningless detail and accuracy create anxiety; sweeping gestures and focus on meaning and purpose dispel anxiety.
Self-consciousness creates anxiety; confidence and a total lack of self-consciousness dispel anxiety.
Listeners can only truly enjoy listening when a sans souci environment and attitude prevails.
Application: Sans souci is the antithesis of how we are taught to play classical music. The attitude is the most important means of applying this technique. To apply it means looking for every opportunity to use it - try every passage to see if it can't be improved by having the lines staggered by exactly one half the written value...sometimes the bass leading and sometimes the treble leading.