Author Topic: Notes in music?  (Read 14515 times)

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Offline (: premont :)

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Re: Notes in music?
« Reply #40 on: June 01, 2019, 09:59:49 AM »
Google Translate says:

Even thank you, Mr. Would it be another time?

It's the second sentence that I don't get.  :)

"Skulle det være en anden gang"

is used as a courtesy expression to assure future forthcomingness.
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Offline San Antone

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Re: Notes in music?
« Reply #41 on: June 01, 2019, 10:00:51 AM »
I find the distinction between score (composition if you want) and performance most important. What I hear in my mind, while I read a score, is of course not an ideal abstract performance but just my interpretation of the score, which is only one of the many ways the score may be interpreted.

I think notation is far too crude of a medium to capture all the variables of performance of what a composer intended.  It is all we have, however, but the score is merely the starting point (not summation) and is why there can be so many different but valid performances of the same Beethoven sonata.  And Bach left us hardly any markings in his scores, leaving the field wide open for interpretation.

I do not dispute the importance of the performer's art, and it is an indispensable ingredient to our experiencing music.  My only addition was to say that I marvel at the many GMG members who are able to discern differences in recordings and come up with a ranking of good, better, best, etc. 

As I said earlier, my interest is in hearing works (performed by anyone) that I haven't heard before, instead of listening, and comparing, different recordings of the same work.

Offline (: premont :)

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Re: Notes in music?
« Reply #42 on: June 01, 2019, 10:11:49 AM »
I think notation is far too crude of a medium to capture all the variables of performance of what a composer intended.  It is all we have, however, but the score is merely the starting point (not summation) and is why there can be so many different but valid performances of the same Beethoven sonata.  And Bach left us hardly any markings in his scores, leaving the field wide open for interpretation.

Maybe we are in agreement, but we express it differently. What I want to maintain, is, that it is not the composition, you enjoy, but an interpretation of the score.

Quote from: San Antone
I do not dispute the importance of the performer's art, and it is an indispensable ingredient to our experiencing music.  My only addition was to say that I marvel at the many GMG members who are able to discern differences in recordings and come up with a ranking of good, better, best, etc.


I only rarely do comparative listening, but consider every recording according to its own premises. But of course not everything is to my taste.
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Offline Florestan

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Re: Notes in music?
« Reply #43 on: June 01, 2019, 10:41:44 AM »
"Skulle det være en anden gang"

is used as a courtesy expression to assure future forthcomingness.

I see. Thanks again --- and likewise.
"Melody is the essence of music." - Mozart

"Believe nothing you hear, and only one-half that you see." - Edgar Allan Poe

Offline Florestan

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Re: Notes in music?
« Reply #44 on: June 01, 2019, 10:45:52 AM »
I think notation is far too crude of a medium to capture all the variables of performance of what a composer intended.  It is all we have, however, but the score is merely the starting point (not summation) and is why there can be so many different but valid performances of the same Beethoven sonata.  And Bach left us hardly any markings in his scores, leaving the field wide open for interpretation.

Yes, yes, yes and yes.

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I marvel at the many GMG members who are able to discern differences in recordings and come up with a ranking of good, better, best, etc. 

I marvel at that, too.

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my interest is in hearing works (performed by anyone) that I haven't heard before, instead of listening, and comparing, different recordings of the same work.

Ditto.

Looks like our approach is strikingly similar and the differences, if any, are negligible.
"Melody is the essence of music." - Mozart

"Believe nothing you hear, and only one-half that you see." - Edgar Allan Poe

Offline Florestan

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Re: Notes in music?
« Reply #45 on: June 01, 2019, 10:49:09 AM »
I only rarely do comparative listening, but consider every recording according to its own premises.

This.

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But of course not everything is to my taste.

My taste is eclectic enough that virtually everything is to my taste.
"Melody is the essence of music." - Mozart

"Believe nothing you hear, and only one-half that you see." - Edgar Allan Poe

Online Madiel

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Re: Notes in music?
« Reply #46 on: June 01, 2019, 12:29:54 PM »
This conversation has improved considerably.
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Offline San Antone

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Re: Notes in music?
« Reply #47 on: June 01, 2019, 01:30:36 PM »
Maybe we are in agreement, but we express it differently. What I want to maintain, is, that it is not the composition, you enjoy, but an interpretation of the score.

I don't know why you keep harping on this semantical distinction - i.e. the composition as opposed to the realization of it through a performance/interpretation.  It is music written by Beethoven, and the music will essentially be the same performed by a dozen different pianists.  Yes, there will be some differences in tempo, or articulation, or phrasing - but the overall effect will be of the same work, written by Beethoven.

A performance does not exist without the composition, whereas the composition exists with or without a performer.

Offline (: premont :)

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Re: Notes in music?
« Reply #48 on: June 01, 2019, 01:43:40 PM »
I don't know why you keep harping on this semantical distinction - i.e. the composition as opposed to the realization of it through a performance/interpretation.  It is music written by Beethoven, and the music will essentially be the same performed by a dozen different pianists.  Yes, there will be some differences in tempo, or articulation, or phrasing - but the overall effect will be of the same work, written by Beethoven.

I think this distinction is very important in order to assess the crucial role of the performer. Every performance includes a large number of important choices, maybe fewer when it is about a Beethoven sonata, but very many more when it is about Early music. Compare Ensemble Organum's recording of Machaut's messe with Konrad Ruhland's - almost two different pieces of music, and what is true Machaut i.e. the composition?

Quote from: San Antone
A performance does not exist without the composition, whereas the composition exists with or without a performer.

Yes, the composition (the score) exists, but not the music.
As soon as a word has left the lips, not even the fastest horse can catch up with it.

Offline Florestan

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Re: Notes in music?
« Reply #49 on: June 01, 2019, 01:48:09 PM »
A performance does not exist without the composition, whereas the composition exists with or without a performer.

Yes, the composition (the score) exists, but not the music.

You, gentlemen, make one and the same point --- with which I agree.
« Last Edit: June 01, 2019, 01:52:13 PM by Florestan »
"Melody is the essence of music." - Mozart

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Offline Florestan

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Re: Notes in music?
« Reply #50 on: June 01, 2019, 01:51:52 PM »
Compare Ensemble Organum's recording of Machaut's messe with Konrad Ruhland's - almost two different pieces of music, and what is true Machaut i.e. the composition?

Absent what Machaut himself would have made of it, every performance is true Machaut.
« Last Edit: June 01, 2019, 01:54:17 PM by Florestan »
"Melody is the essence of music." - Mozart

"Believe nothing you hear, and only one-half that you see." - Edgar Allan Poe

Offline San Antone

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Re: Notes in music?
« Reply #51 on: June 01, 2019, 02:20:11 PM »
I think this distinction is very important in order to assess the crucial role of the performer. Every performance includes a large number of important choices, maybe fewer when it is about a Beethoven sonata, but very many more when it is about Early music. Compare Ensemble Organum's recording of Machaut's messe with Konrad Ruhland's - almost two different pieces of music, and what is true Machaut i.e. the composition?

I agree that in early music manuscripts we have are open to a much wider range of interpretations, and a stronger argument can be made that the Machaut Messe as performed by Andrew Parrott is very different from that offered by Bjorn Schmelzer.  But the music is still recognizably Machaut's.  It is also true that some early music directors intentionally obfuscate the interpretive choices by willfully ignoring established musicology and performance practice in a self-absorbed vision of their own importance.

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Yes, the composition (the score) exists, but not the music.

By necessity I must experience a piece of music via a performance by a musician, even if that musician is myself.  But I will never elevate the performer above the composer in the equation.  I am playing Beethoven's notes and score directions, and there are defined limits to my interpretive choices, limits defined by Beethoven.
« Last Edit: June 01, 2019, 02:22:31 PM by San Antone »

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Re: Notes in music?
« Reply #52 on: June 01, 2019, 03:40:12 PM »
I’m rather sympathetic to San Antone’s views on this.

Some of the arguments about composition vs music start to run into trouble once you leave classical music and move into pop music where the recorded form of something IS presented as more definitive. The problems of notation not being precise enough are bypassed. Decisions are made in the studio / by the producer as to how exactly the music will sound, to everyone.

Of course, this doesn’t preclude live performances which will vary, or “covers” by other performers. But printed notation actually stopped being the way that music was primarily presented to the world a while ago.

Plus of course there was a time before our notation system was invented, and music was shared directly between people learning a tune.

There’s an overall movement towards more and more detail in how a piece of music is transmitted, and I think that’s simply because the amount of detail that is POSSIBLE has increased.
« Last Edit: June 01, 2019, 03:42:31 PM by Madiel »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Notes in music?
« Reply #53 on: June 01, 2019, 08:14:20 PM »

 I marvel at the many GMG members who are able to discern differences in recordings and come up with a ranking of good, better, best, etc. 

.

Aren’t you the bloke with 250 recordings of the Liszt sonata and a plan to rank them all?
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Notes in music?
« Reply #54 on: June 01, 2019, 08:21:27 PM »
.  But the music is still recognizably Machaut's. 

Sometimes that sort of judgement call is really tough to make.

I remember once talking positively about a recording of Schumann’s symphonic Etudes, I think it was Ernst Levy’s, and someone here, with a monika something  like Dancing Divertimento, said he could hardly recognise it as Schumann! So what’s recognisable to one may not be to another.

I remember feeling like this myself when I was exploring Cage’s piano etudes, and I came across the performances by Claudio Crismani - I really couldn’t tell which etude I was listening to!
« Last Edit: June 01, 2019, 08:32:20 PM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Notes in music?
« Reply #55 on: June 01, 2019, 08:27:53 PM »

By necessity I must experience a piece of music via a performance by a musician, even if that musician is myself.  But I will never elevate the performer above the composer in the equation.  I am playing Beethoven's notes and score directions, and there are defined limits to my interpretive choices, limits defined by Beethoven.

There’s an alternative view, which is that the score and all the historical context which gave it its original significance are now a series of suggestions for interpretation. That the role of the interpreter is to make use of his knowledge to create something which works in some way for his audience. Peter Philips wrote this

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I believe that sixteenth-century composers would have expected far greater unanimity between pieces in performance than we give them.; but I repeat that what was acceptable to sixteenth century ears is probably not so to twentieth century ones. To have to sit through a concert of Renaissance polyphony undertaken on these principles would be to understand why the early Baroque composers reacted so strongly against it.


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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Notes in music?
« Reply #56 on: June 01, 2019, 08:41:08 PM »
I agree that in early music manuscripts we have are open to a much wider range of interpretations, and a stronger argument can be made that the Machaut Messe as performed by Andrew Parrott is very different from that offered by Bjorn Schmelzer.  But the music is still recognizably Machaut's.  It is also true that some early music directors intentionally obfuscate the interpretive choices by willfully ignoring established musicology and performance practice in a self-absorbed vision of their own importance.



Do you really think Rebecca Stewart is a self absorbed obfuscater? Hers was an example of the Machaut mass which seemed to me so different from the mainstream that it’s hardly recognisable by me.

My own feeling, though I haven’t probably thought about this enough, is that “established musicology” is less established than you think. To take an example, established musicology can’t even agree on tempos in Beethoven, or pitch in Sheppard, or phrasing in the Bach cello suites. Or indeed, how to sing Gregorian chant.



« Last Edit: June 01, 2019, 08:47:42 PM by Mandryka »
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Offline San Antone

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Re: Notes in music?
« Reply #57 on: June 01, 2019, 08:49:23 PM »
Aren’t you the bloke with 250 recordings of the Liszt sonata and a plan to rank them all?

Yes, but I had to come up with a numbering method to keep track of each performance and really concentrate on each performance for no other purpose than to make those comparisons - which turned out a most unrewarding way to listen to the work. It is the exception that proves the rule. I am not even sure why I got started doing it, and have gotten bogged down a little over half way through.  (It didn't help that I had lost all my data due to a computer malfunction when I was 99% done, but my last backup was at only 50%.)

 ::)
« Last Edit: June 01, 2019, 08:54:52 PM by San Antone »

Offline San Antone

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Re: Notes in music?
« Reply #58 on: June 01, 2019, 09:42:15 PM »
My own feeling, though I haven’t probably thought about this enough, is that “established musicology” is less established than you think. To take an example, established musicology can’t even agree on tempos in Beethoven, or pitch in Sheppard, or phrasing in the Bach cello suites. Or indeed, how to sing Gregorian chant.

Marcel Peres is a perfect example of the kind of obfuscation I was referring to.  His willful denial of 150 years musicology which established the way to sing Gregorian chant is a cultural crime, IMO.  I only wish J.F. Weber would have stuck around GMG if for no other reason than to offer the black letter evidence of Peres' obfuscation. But after reading through the Chant thread Weber was so turned off because so much of the focus was on outliers (his word) like Peres and Schmelzer, he chose not to.

But, again, despite Peres and Schmelzer's departure from long-standing musicology in early music, their music-making is enjoyable and worthwhile. I just wish they would drop the pretense of claiming that their way is more authentic and just embrace the fact that because the manuscripts were created in an environment of oral transmission, and much of their interpretation has been lost, they have the liberty to sing Machaut in the way they imagine in their mind's ear.

Online Madiel

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Re: Notes in music?
« Reply #59 on: June 01, 2019, 10:40:48 PM »
Do you really think Rebecca Stewart is a self absorbed obfuscater? Hers was an example of the Machaut mass which seemed to me so different from the mainstream that it’s hardly recognisable by me.

The question that arises in my mind, then, if things get stretched that far, is whether it's actually valid to continually to advertise and market the result as "the Machaut mass".

Seriously, if your focus is on Rebecca Stewart (not someone I actually know) and you're looking to buy another Rebecca Stewart recording because you like what she does, then no doubt this isn't a problem. But if someone likes the Machaut mass and buys the same recording on the basis that they want a recording of the Machaut mass and it's billed as a recording of that, then the recording not being recognisable as the Machaut mass becomes a serious problem.

This all gets caught up in the question of the role of the composer versus the role of the performers. There is certainly a fair chunk of musical history where the view was that the composer sets the ground rules, and a performer ought to stay within them. The extreme of this was Ravel's response when someone complained that he treated performers as slaves, because he retorted that performers are slaves. There are other periods where people would have been much more comfortable treating a composer's notation as merely a kind of suggestion which could be mucked about with. But I do think there's a legitimate question as to just how far you can muck about with a composer's material and continue to invoke the name of the composer and claim that you're performing the composer's music (as opposed to, say, performing music "inspired by" or "after" that composer).
« Last Edit: June 01, 2019, 10:43:14 PM by Madiel »
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