Author Topic: All instruments are equal, but some instruments are more equal than others  (Read 1036 times)

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Offline Cato

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To paraphrase a famous saying from long ago:

"Up Piano!  Down Guitar!"   8)

Having composed for both piano and church organ, I can say yes, the "touch" of a piano is more nuanced.  The organ, of course, can be a musical blunderbuss, spraying and "smearing" the notes:  the same music played on both instruments would show the differences.
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Offline aleazk

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The analogies between the pipe organ and the piano begin in the fact that both are keyboard instruments. They also end there.

Offline Madiel

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We aren't making analogies. We're making comparisons.
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Offline aleazk

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Well, I'm making a comparison by pointing out the elements in which they are analogous, and, even more, saying that those elements are few, which makes implicit that I think they are very different instruments. There you have your comparison, straight out from what I said in the first post.

Offline aleazk

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In my opinion the symphony orchestra is an instrument . . .

I actually agree with this and can also be made more precise in the following sense: the orchestra is a new instrument because it has new emergent instrumental capacities which are absent in their individual component instruments (for example, the amazing new textural and trimbral capacities of the orchestra, that can play Ligeti's atmosphéres as well as a Brahms' symphony!) One could say it's just the sum of the component instruments' textures, but that's not how our ear and even the conductor perceives the orchestral texture (although, of course, the conductor will give individual directions to the component instruments, since they are the ones that generate the texture, that's the magic of emergent properties; it would be interesting to analyse if the orchestral texture is fully epistemologically reducible to its parts, i.e., the conductor would have, at least in principle, the absolute control of the texture by controlling the parts if this were the case.)

Offline Mandryka

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Having composed for both piano and church organ, I can say yes, the "touch" of a piano is more nuanced. 

And by this you mean the ability of the player to control the transients at the start of the notes?
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Offline Toccata&Fugue

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Counterpoint is almost impossible. There is simply no comparison between the capabilities of the two instruments. The main advantage of the guitar is that it can be played at a basic level with almost no skill and instruction.

I absolutely disagree with everything you stated, especially the counterpoint comment. The guitar is very capable of counterpoint. It is very difficult, but lots of people, including myself, can very successfully play Bach fugues (from the Violin Sonatas and some keyboard works) as well as contemporary composers who write contrapuntally for the guitar, such as Michael Tippett.

For me, beginning piano was far easier than beginning guitar. For one thing, the notes on the piano are already formed--the player "just" has to hit them, where on the guitar one has to form them and hit them simultaneously, and often in rather awkward finger configurations. Beginning piano pieces usually fall far more naturally under the fingers.

I can see this turning into quite a debate/rock throwing episode, so I've said all I plan to say on the matter.
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Offline Cato

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And by this you mean the ability of the player to control the transients at the start of the notes?

And at the end: all three phases on the organ (the consonant (i.e. the beginning transient), the vowel (the held note), and the end or decay transient) can be highly idiosyncratic from organ to organ (assuming that we have a mechanical pipe organ).
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Offline Mandryka

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And at the end: all three phases on the organ (the consonant (i.e. the beginning transient), the vowel (the held note), and the end or decay transient) can be highly idiosyncratic from organ to organ (assuming that we have a mechanical pipe organ).

I'm sure you're right about this, and combined with  difficult environments -- cathedrals rather than concert halls. It much be a bitch of an instrument to try to master!
« Last Edit: May 27, 2018, 10:53:13 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mirror Image

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I absolutely disagree with everything you stated, especially the counterpoint comment. The guitar is very capable of counterpoint. It is very difficult, but lots of people, including myself, can very successfully play Bach fugues (from the Violin Sonatas and some keyboard works) as well as contemporary composers who write contrapuntally for the guitar, such as Michael Tippett.

For me, beginning piano was far easier than beginning guitar. For one thing, the notes on the piano are already formed--the player "just" has to hit them, where on the guitar one has to form them and hit them simultaneously, and often in rather awkward finger configurations. Beginning piano pieces usually fall far more naturally under the fingers.

I can see this turning into quite a debate/rock throwing episode, so I've said all I plan to say on the matter.

Extremely well-said and all great points.
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ComposerOfAvantGarde

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Worldwide, plucked string instruments have had far more impact than struck string instruments.

Offline aleazk

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For me, beginning piano was far easier than beginning guitar. For one thing, the notes on the piano are already formed--the player "just" has to hit them, where on the guitar one has to form them and hit them simultaneously, and often in rather awkward finger configurations. Beginning piano pieces usually fall far more naturally under the fingers.

As a side comment on this, it's curious that, at advanced piano playing, that very thing which was an advantage becomes the source of difficulty, since one is asked to get a variety of touchs and subtlety which are very difficult to achieve, because of this fixed mechanics. The level of microcontrol at the fingers that one needs is, I would say, equal or higher than those one needs in other instruments where this necessity would seem more obvious.

Offline aleazk

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Worldwide, plucked string instruments have had far more impact than struck string instruments.

Donald Trump, too, has had more impact than people that are far less idiotic than him. Sad!

 ;)

Offline TalkingHead

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The only advantage of guitar over piano is that you can put it in a case and travel comfortably with it in your back. That and its modest capability at polyphony (chords of more than two notes, a melody accompanied with a simple bass line,...) is the only reason why that ugly instrument got some popularity. As for driving music revolutions, call me when you can conceive and play something like Ravel's Jeux d'eau with it, or Ligeti's etudes...
Hmm, modest capability at polyphony, you say?
Well, try this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQu3TWRORm4

Offline aleazk

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Hmm, modest capability at polyphony, you say?
Well, try this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQu3TWRORm4

Doesn't seem really that complex once you clean the surface. And I like BF. Anyway, I said modest in comparison to the piano. I was actually putting the guitar between bow instruments and the piano, and attributing the popularity of guitar to the fact that you can easily play some non-trivial chords to accompany a love song, besides its portability.

Anyway, this whole thread, as everything coming from member "jessop", is just evidently and intentionally intended to become a dirty can of worms. So, with your permission, I'm throwing this can and its content to the the garbage bin :D
« Last Edit: May 29, 2018, 12:41:03 PM by aleazk »

Offline Monsieur Croche

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The keyboards, whether organ, plinkety-plonk of choice or preference (Virginal, Clavichord, Harpsichord) or piano, have it all over the guitar, though they are all polyphonic instruments with a sizeable range.

The fact that the keyboards allow both hands to engage in producing sound, with the capacity for each hand to play a good number of pitches simultaneously and that over the extreme range of the instrument, makes it hands down vastly 'greater' than the capacity of any guitar or guitarist. 

This is almost a default in-place win by the numbers -- how much any one player on any one instrument can play all at once.  With a sounding board and attached wooden body all acting as resonator, the piano also 'wins' over guitar, even getting near or equal in delicacy, while its overall dynamic range is that much greater as well.

That all parsed out, the Clavichord, piano, and guitar are each capable of being enormously expressive, something both organ and harpsichord do not yield up to the performer at all easily.
~ I'm all for personal expression; it just has to express something to me. ~

Offline aleazk

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The keyboards, whether organ, plinkety-plonk of choice or preference (Virginal, Clavichord, Harpsichord) or piano, have it all over the guitar, though they are all polyphonic instruments with a sizeable range.

The fact that the keyboards allow both hands to engage in producing sound, with the capacity for each hand to play a good number of pitches simultaneously and that over the extreme range of the instrument, makes it hands down vastly 'greater' than the capacity of any guitar or guitarist. 

This is almost a default in-place win by the numbers -- how much any one player on any one instrument can play all at once.  With a sounding board and attached wooden body all acting as resonator, the piano also 'wins' over guitar, even getting near or equal in delicacy, while its overall dynamic range is that much greater as well.

That all parsed out, the Clavichord, piano, and guitar are each capable of being enormously expressive, something both organ and harpsichord do not yield up to the performer at all easily.

Indeed. But it seems that some people will challenge even the most obvious thing just to feel, or say to themselves, that they have an original opinion :-)

ComposerOfAvantGarde

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Indeed. But it seems that some people will challenge even the most obvious thing just to feel, or say to themselves, that they have an original opinion :-)

It's a little bit annoying when some people insist on distorting even the most basic facts :laugh:

Offline Monsieur Croche

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Well, I'm making a comparison by pointing out the elements in which they are analogous, and, even more, saying that those elements are few, which makes implicit that I think they are very different instruments. There you have your comparison, straight out from what I said in the first post.

Yes indeedy, the difference between a wind /reed instrument (organ) and a chordophone percussion instrument (piano) are vast.  Sharing a keyboard gene makes them no more or less related than I am to someone who is from another culture and race halfway around the globe.

Any musician whose primary instrument is one or the other, even in the briefest of contact trying the other instrument, is told the blazingly obvious differences in toto the moment they depress even one key.
« Last Edit: June 02, 2018, 09:31:44 PM by Monsieur Croche »
~ I'm all for personal expression; it just has to express something to me. ~

Offline Monsieur Croche

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Amidst the whorl of this epic contest, maybe it is a good point to drop in the obvious?

If you want a guitar sound, and all the instrument can do, a piano is no advantage at all.
If you want a piano sound....

I think there is only so much dithering about the advantages between two wildly non-related instruments (O.k. they're chordophones, and if you accept both plucked and struck as percussion (I do) they are maybe at best 89 x removed cousins with only the chordophone-percussion as shared traits, even less so when you're going to do the ___ vs. ___ when talking family vs family, winds vs. strings, etc.

Each can do something the other can't.

« Last Edit: June 02, 2018, 09:34:40 PM by Monsieur Croche »
~ I'm all for personal expression; it just has to express something to me. ~

 

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