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#1295604 - 10/28/09 05:29 PM Singing voices
Jim Frazee Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/31/06
Posts: 393
Loc: Westchester County, New York
I have always used the term "cantabile" to refer to a voice, either a solo voice with accompaniment or a voice within a chord (whether the top note or some other note) but played with more emphasis so it is heard above the other notes of the chord. After reading both the Oxford and Harvard definitions of cantabile, however, I'm not sure this is the correct term. What say you? Thanks!
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#1295632 - 10/28/09 06:40 PM Re: Singing voices [Re: Jim Frazee]
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7384
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Cantare is the root verb, and it means to sing. I just tell my students to find which voice is the lead voice, or most interesting voice, or different but interesting voice (if the phrase is repeated) and bring that out. It may or may not be played cantabile depending on the style.
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#1295734 - 10/28/09 10:24 PM Re: Singing voices [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Morodiene Offline
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Wouldn't you always want to bring out the top note except on rare occasions for something different? Cantabile playing means to treat it as a singer would, "in a singing style" to be specific. If you do a lot of listening to good opera singers, you will better understand what this means.
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#1295779 - 10/29/09 12:00 AM Re: Singing voices [Re: Morodiene]
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Not necessarily. Schumann for example is quite polyphonic and you can emphasize different voices during repeats. I'm playing some Shostakovitch and he has tenor and base voices all over the place.
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#1295952 - 10/29/09 10:16 AM Re: Singing voices [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Morodiene Offline
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You're right, John. In polyphonic music you will find voices in alto, tenor and bass that can be brought out. My point was more that of course you want to bring out a voice at all times. This is not necessarily cantabile playing therefore, or it would be redundant for a composer to even use that term.


Edited by Morodiene (10/29/09 10:17 AM)
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#1295962 - 10/29/09 10:30 AM Re: Singing voices [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Jim Frazee Offline
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Registered: 01/31/06
Posts: 393
Loc: Westchester County, New York
I agree with John. Take, for a simple example, Chopin's Prelude #20. In measure 5, one can bring out the top notes through measure 8 but in measure 9 the bringing out of the middle voices (G, A flat, A flat, G, G, F#, et alia to measure 12) make for an interesting and musical effect.

In opera, the alto, tenor, baritone or bass solo voice is still heard above the sopranos, is it not?

Still, I'm not finding a name for what I'm referring to in piano pedagogy.
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#1295999 - 10/29/09 11:41 AM Re: Singing voices [Re: Jim Frazee]
Morodiene Offline
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Registered: 04/06/07
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Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: Jim Frazee
I agree with John. Take, for a simple example, Chopin's Prelude #20. In measure 5, one can bring out the top notes through measure 8 but in measure 9 the bringing out of the middle voices (G, A flat, A flat, G, G, F#, et alia to measure 12) make for an interesting and musical effect.

In opera, the alto, tenor, baritone or bass solo voice is still heard above the sopranos, is it not?

Still, I'm not finding a name for what I'm referring to in piano pedagogy.

Perhaps I'm not being clear: it's about A VOICE being brought out. Sure, you hear the others, but they aren't always equally in the forefront. Playing a chord, for example, can sound nice, but we are always taught to "voice" it, i.e., bringing out one note over the others.

My point, again, is that CANTABILE playing is different than bringing out a voice, whatever voice or voices you choose to bring out.

This hearkens to the "espressivo" thread on the Pianist Corner forum. The term used is put in specific places of a piece for a reason, and not a general rule of thumb for all playing. So the question remains, why woudl a composer put "cantabile" in a specific measure or section of a piece?

If "cantabile" only means bringing out a voice or voices, then it doesn't make sense that the composer would choose to put it in that particular spot...it should be everywhere and thus redundant to write this. This leads me to believe that "cantabile" the term, which means "in a singing style" is something different than just making one voice or voices louder than the rest.
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#1296019 - 10/29/09 12:20 PM Re: Singing voices [Re: Morodiene]
Jim Frazee Offline
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Registered: 01/31/06
Posts: 393
Loc: Westchester County, New York
I'm the one not being clear, I guess. My original post stated that my use of the term "cantabile" was probably incorrect; my question remains: What is the correct term, if any, for bringing out one voice over another?
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#1296025 - 10/29/09 12:29 PM Re: Singing voices [Re: Jim Frazee]
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7384
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Jim, I don't think there's actually a "term" for this. There should be!
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#1296039 - 10/29/09 12:44 PM Re: Singing voices [Re: Jim Frazee]
Studio Joe Offline
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Registered: 03/28/07
Posts: 1803
Loc: Decatur, Texas
Originally Posted By: Jim Frazee
I'm the one not being clear, I guess. My original post stated that my use of the term "cantabile" was probably incorrect; my question remains: What is the correct term, if any, for bringing out one voice over another?


Voice leading?
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#1296061 - 10/29/09 01:26 PM Re: Singing voices [Re: Studio Joe]
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
I say this is meaningless. You
can do this in easy pieces, or
with one note. You can get a
beautiful "singing" tone if
you play just one note on the piano.
Indeed, you could close your eyes
and mesmerize yourself
with that for hours on end. But
try doing that in difficult, fast
pieces. In real life playing,
this is irrelevant. You've got
to hit all the notes in the right
time at tempo, first and foremost.
If you can get a "singing" tone
on a few of the notes, my hat's
off to you, but it's always
going to come down to hitting
the right notes. If you can't
hit the right notes, you can't
play.

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#1296069 - 10/29/09 01:38 PM Re: Singing voices [Re: Jim Frazee]
Morodiene Offline
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Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11968
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: Jim Frazee
I'm the one not being clear, I guess. My original post stated that my use of the term "cantabile" was probably incorrect; my question remains: What is the correct term, if any, for bringing out one voice over another?

Sorry, got off on a tangent there.

I have often heard the term "voicing" in classical circles here in the US, although this means something entirely different for jazz pianists.
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#1296071 - 10/29/09 01:45 PM Re: Singing voices [Re: Morodiene]
keystring Online   content
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Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11710
Loc: Canada
Would "bringing out the melodic line" do it? That line is often in the soprano, but not always.

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#1296112 - 10/29/09 03:15 PM Re: Singing voices [Re: Studio Joe]
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7384
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Voice leading is what it is, in most cases, but that doesn't describe the process of selecting the proper voice and emphasizing it.
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Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
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#1296114 - 10/29/09 03:23 PM Re: Singing voices [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Morodiene Offline
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Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11968
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Voice leading is what it is, in most cases, but that doesn't describe the process of selecting the proper voice and emphasizing it.

Doesn't the term "voice leading" apply to part-writing, where you want to make movement between two pitches as easy as possible for the given line, avoiding parallel 5ths, etc.?
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#1296141 - 10/29/09 04:03 PM Re: Singing voices [Re: Morodiene]
Jim Frazee Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/31/06
Posts: 393
Loc: Westchester County, New York
Voice leading, as it applies to contrapuntal writing, refers to the preferred or expected movement of voices (other than the soprano voice, perhaps the cantus firmus) in step-wise motion or contrary motion or, in cadences, for the resolution of a given voice such as the seventh to the tonic. Voicing in jazz refers to the selection and arrangement/inversion of notes within a chord, such as forming a I7 chord beginning on third, fifth or seventh rather than the root. Another interesting variation is called voice exchange in which, for example, the sopranos sing the alto part while the altos sing the soprano part. Makes for an interesting quality/timbre to be sure, but still not the term I was searching for.
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PianoPerfection
Teacher, performer, technician
Westchester County, NY

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#1296144 - 10/29/09 04:09 PM Re: Singing voices [Re: Jim Frazee]
keystring Online   content
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Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11710
Loc: Canada
I had originally thought of "voice leading" as the leading voice, until encountering it in theory in the way Jim says, so that flew out of the window.

Is what you are looking for an enhancing not the *melodic line*? Or if there are several - the main melodic line, or leading melodic line? The line that holds the melody.

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