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#1564719 - 11/26/10 06:09 PM Placement of Chopin's grace notes.
gooddog Offline
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Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 4784
Loc: Seattle area, WA
I just came from a lesson and was astonished to be told that Chopin's grace notes are often played on the beat, not before. My teacher pulled out a reference that shows Chopin's handwritten notations on his students' music indicating they are played on the beat.

Any thoughts?
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Deborah

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#1564729 - 11/26/10 06:39 PM Re: Placement of Chopin's grace notes. [Re: gooddog]
david_a Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
I believe that some should be and others maybe should not. The evidence that he wanted at least some of them to be on the beat is apparently pretty strong; I have done no research of my own.
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#1564746 - 11/26/10 07:00 PM Re: Placement of Chopin's grace notes. [Re: gooddog]
Mark_C Online   content
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We had a discussion on this last week, with some people saying what you're saying but others (like me) emphasizing that most pianists play the grace notes before the beat.

Even when someone dug up some YouTube links supposedly showing that some people played them on the beat, he was wrong: even those people actually play them mostly before the beat.

This doesn't prove anything, but.....it's just "for what it's worth."

I doubt that anything from Chopin himself says or suggests that his grace notes should generally be played on the beat. I could believe that he said it for some places -- which is what your post seems to suggest -- and there are indeed some places where I do play them on the beat (including one place where hardly anyone else does).
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#1564756 - 11/26/10 07:12 PM Re: Placement of Chopin's grace notes. [Re: gooddog]
Arghhh Offline
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In my edition of Chopin Nocturnes (Paderewski edition from "Instytut Fryderyka Chopina Polskie Wydawnictwo Muzyczne - phew, what's the short way to refer to this edition?), there is a page of notes on ornamentation. The last note is stated as follows:

Quote:

6) Finally, it must be remembered that all ornaments, whether appoggiaturas, mordents, trills, turns or arpeggios, should be performed according to the accepted principle, i.e. the duration of the principle note, e. g. : (grace-note-eighth-with-slash-through-it-tied-to-quarter-note) is played as a sixteenth note followed by a dotted eighth.
In Chopin's works, the signs written in his own hand in the copies of Madame Dubois, now preserved in the Library of the Paris Conservatoire, leave no doubt, from the rhythmic point of view as to Chopin's method of executing these ornaments. There, inter alia, we find signs indicating that the first note of the ornament in the upper staff is to be played simultaneously with the bass note corresponding to the principal note of the ornament, e.g. in Nocturne op. 37, No. 1.

In this nocturne, the example shown is from ms. 37, and it indicates that the C# in the treble is to be played with the F in the bass.


Edited by Arghhh (11/26/10 07:14 PM)

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#1564761 - 11/26/10 07:19 PM Re: Placement of Chopin's grace notes. [Re: gooddog]
BruceD Offline
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Registered: 05/26/01
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Originally Posted By: gooddog
I just came from a lesson and was astonished to be told that Chopin's grace notes are often played on the beat, not before. My teacher pulled out a reference that shows Chopin's handwritten notations on his students' music indicating they are played on the beat.

Any thoughts?


Deborah :

This is what I posted on that "other thread" [1]

"Bailie, whose opinions many seem to appreciate, says the following :

"The 'regular' figures of ornamentation, trills, appoggiaturas, grace note figures, arpeggiations, and so on, will normally begin on the beat. This is clearly indicated by Chopin in the scores of various pupils. In the Nocturne in G minor Op 37 No 1, for example, various grace note or appoggiatura figures in bb. 1, 5, 6, etc. are connected to the left hand note or chord by a diagonal line. In all similar instances, as for example, in the Scherzo in B minor Op 20, bb. 322, 324, 325, etc. such grace note figures will begin on the beat. This inevitably involves a slight delaying of the melody note, creating a subtle rubato effectin the melodic line...."

Bailie goes on to cite other common examples (quoting J.-J. Eigeldinger) where Chopin indicates by a diagonal line (Impromptu in A flat, Op 29; Nocturne in A-flat, Op 32, No 2; Nocturne in C minor, Op 48, No 1, etc.) that the acciaccatura is played on the beat.

That said, I concede that there is no hard and fast rule, but it is the general opinion of such people as Bailie, Eigeldinger and several of my teachers that most ornaments in Chopin should start on the beat.

I am wondering if this point of view is the result of more recent research which would explain why some older, esteemed recordings contradict this practice.

That said, on this issue I would not, in the words of Prof. Henry Higgins "take a position and strongly never budge." I think the practice is open to the interpretation of the artists, but research tends to indicate "on the beat" for the majority of ornaments in Chopin, a practice I am more and more tending to prefer, although I was for a long time in the other camp."

[1]That other thread can be found in the discussion on the Pianist Corner - Members Recording of the Chopin Nocturne in E minor, Op. posth. 72, No. 1.

Regards,
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#1564767 - 11/26/10 07:28 PM Re: Placement of Chopin's grace notes. [Re: gooddog]
david_a Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
Polskie Wydawnictwo Muzyczne (PWM) is the name of a Polish publisher. Instytut Fryderyka Chopina is the Chopin Institute in that country. That old edition is sometimes called "Paderewski edition", though apparently Paderewski had little or nothing to do with the actual editing work. They are the ones who corrected Chopin's harmony mistakes, FWIW. smile

I have Ekier's edition (for Wiener Urtext) of the Nocturnes. In various places Ekier has drawn dotted lines connecting a particular grace note to the bass, showing that they should be played together. In Op 37 #1, that is most of them. In other pieces, just certain ones. He seems to be assuming that most grace notes should be played before the beat, with certain exceptions as requested.
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#1564771 - 11/26/10 07:35 PM Re: Placement of Chopin's grace notes. [Re: gooddog]
gooddog Offline
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Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 4784
Loc: Seattle area, WA
Thank you for the elucidation Bruce. I was incorrectly taught to always play the grace notes before the beat in Chopin so this new information was an eye-opener.

I am extremely grateful to have finally found a high caliber teacher who is learned as well as a top notch teacher and performer. Incidentally, my teacher quoted Eigeldinger's book.
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Deborah

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#1564775 - 11/26/10 07:41 PM Re: Placement of Chopin's grace notes. [Re: gooddog]
BruceD Offline
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Deborah :

As my post implied, I always "thought," too, that grace notes in Chopin were played before the beat. That's what I did most of my adult life when I didn't have a teacher and didn't have the time to do the nit-picking that I often do now. Several of my local teachers have all sided on the "mostly before the beat" camp.

As I'm training myself to play most ornaments in Chopin on the beat, I'm beginning to feel an affinity for that approach, although it's not yet second nature.

There are always exceptions to any generality, are there not, and I don't think it should be regarded as "wrong" to play them before the beat, although some modern purists might argue that point!

Regards,
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#1564781 - 11/26/10 07:50 PM Re: Placement of Chopin's grace notes. [Re: gooddog]
Damon Offline
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Loc: St. Louis area
When I was a youth, my first real teacher made those suggestions on certain pieces but I never liked the way it sounded. So I ignored him like a typical teenager of the seventies would. I still do.
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#1564791 - 11/26/10 08:09 PM Re: Placement of Chopin's grace notes. [Re: BruceD]
Arghhh Offline
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Originally Posted By: BruceD

That said, I concede that there is no hard and fast rule, but it is the general opinion of such people as Bailie, Eigeldinger and several of my teachers that most ornaments in Chopin should start on the beat.

I am wondering if this point of view is the result of more recent research which would explain why some older, esteemed recordings contradict this practice.


If I recall correctly what my teacher said recently (I do wish I had a more precise memory), Chopin was considered to be old-fashioned in his treatment of grace notes. No one else at his time played them that way, so I would guess that the esteemed performers you referred to would also Chopin's music in a more accepted way (assuming that you are referring to early recordings). Can you give me some specific examples of these recordings?

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#1564805 - 11/26/10 09:17 PM Re: Placement of Chopin's grace notes. [Re: gooddog]
Mermanof83 Offline
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Registered: 03/08/10
Posts: 55
Loc: California, USA
Originally Posted By: LisztAddict
Horowitz played the grace note before the beat.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nIj8SeiKNEA

Rubinstein played before the beat.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJpAIOFN5WQ

Richter played on the beat.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHAOrjgIfbg

Arrau played on the beat.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KaFNe85r72I

I think it's not a big deal either way.


LisztAddict posted that in the other thread as examples of pianists. The consensus was reached that most of those links actually displayed the pianists playing before the beat.

I believe discussion touched on the idea that it was a more modern discovery that Chopin wanted the grace notes played on the beat to explain the older generation of pianists playing them before the beat. I'm not sure about the accuracy of the idea that it is a modern discovery...
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#1564821 - 11/26/10 10:06 PM Re: Placement of Chopin's grace notes. [Re: Mark_C]
SlatterFan Offline
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Registered: 08/13/09
Posts: 783
Loc: Brighton, UK
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
I doubt that anything from Chopin himself says or suggests that his grace notes should generally be played on the beat. I could believe that he said it for some places

If we consider all the lines written into all those scores of Chopin's students, and places where ornaments are written out in full in some places and as grace notes in others, I'd say there's enough out there to put us somewhere between "often" and "generally". And that's not even counting the recollections and teachings passed on by his best students. Think of measures 8-9 of the Nocturne in F sharp major Op.15 No.2, where the on-the-beat grace notes are amusingly enforced by being notated not as grace notes and the first notes pretty clearly on the beat. Now if the bottom notes weren't held and the groups were written as grace notes, how would you play them? Would you suddenly change to the top notes on the beat both times? Which is more songful, more expressive, once you get used to it if it seems strange at first - before or on the beat? Or consider how obviously the RH arpeggio grace notes in the Ballade in A flat major Op.47 (measures 118, 122, 231, and 233) are analagous to the written-in-full figurations in measures 28-32 (or so I thought... until I once heard a really good pianist mess up the rhythm in the measures with the grace notes by desperately rushing to fit all the RH notes in to finish with the top note simultaneously with the bass!). Apply across all of Chopin's works...

But let's play devil's advocate for a moment. Before the beat, on the beat, who really cares, surely there are more important factors to good Chopin playing? And to some extent I agree. I can't recall ever thinking anything like, "Man, so-and-so's performance would have been really good, except for those ornaments played before the beat which just ruined it for me, bleugh!"

We know from Chopin's letters and pupils and friends that singing was a hugely important part of Chopin's life. He loved to go to the opera very regularly, and he raved about his favorite singers and recommended them as models for a singing style when playing the piano, and sometimes recommended singing lessons for his piano pupils. He was a bel canto man through and through and he talked often to his pupils about how one must sing with the fingers. Most of his piano writing is songful. There is very little that can be said to be "just passagework" - almost everything he wrote is song, and many rapid RH runs for example could be slowed down, pushed down in pitch, and sung beautifully. And with that all in mind, it is much more natural in bel canto to sing grace notes on the beat, launching the join to their principal note. Of course there are exceptions such as turns/grupetti between melodic notes, or scales moving up or down to arrive at an important note on the beat, but the grace notes that are a matter for debate in Chopin's music, if sung, would usually fall more naturally on the beat.

This carries through to much folk music, whether vocal or violin or fiddle or pipe, Polish or otherwise: grace notes are generally on the beat. Chopin loved listening to local folk music when visiting friends in Poland in his youth, and expressing the essence of Poland was ingrained into the DNA of much of his music. The "generally on the beat" can also be heard in much Irish and Scottish traditional music; American spirituals including those used by Dvorak; and Norwegian music including the Sl├ątter of my screen name transcribed from live performances by a friend of Grieg's and arranged by Grieg for the piano.

Not only does this way of playing most grace notes in Chopin feel more natural to me, but I find it almost like "method acting" - being as Chopin-like as possible as my starting point, and letting my own personal view of the music spring from that. It isn't dealbreaker stuff though: I would rather see a beautifully acted Shakespeare play with a few Dickensian or modern words slipped in, than the same play badly acted with a perfectly accurate script!

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
and there are indeed some places where I do play them on the beat (including one place where hardly anyone else does).

Please spill - where?
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#1564826 - 11/26/10 10:17 PM Re: Placement of Chopin's grace notes. [Re: gooddog]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Registered: 07/24/09
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As a general rule, personally I play anything lyrical on the beat- especially chromatic notes. It just takes away all the musical tension if interesting grace notes becomes mere passing detail. However, there are cases where a feel of "arrival" on the beat is much more logical. If you want a feel of solidity, pre-beat grace notes help greatly to build towards a solid point of focus. While this is not a firm rule, I think that some passages call for a strict arrival on a beat, whereas the vast majority call for something altogether more expressive that is about as far removed from firm togetherness as possible. In fact, personally I frequently try to be sure that even the appogiatura is marginally after the beat, as well as the resolution. I think it's usually a designation of freedom and rubato rather than strict synchronisation.

Something that always puzzled me is that Schnabel said that appogiaturas should always be regarded as less important than the resolution. Much as I admire Schnabel's ideas of how to highlight ascent/descent etc. I could scarcely disagree more.
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#1564827 - 11/26/10 10:20 PM Re: Placement of Chopin's grace notes. [Re: gooddog]
Mark_C Online   content
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Originally Posted By: gooddog
Thank you for the elucidation Bruce. I was incorrectly taught to always play the grace notes before the beat in Chopin so this new information was an eye-opener.....

Please don't assume your 'old' way is "incorrect."

Remember: Most pianists, including big names, play it that 'wrong' way. smile
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#1564829 - 11/26/10 10:22 PM Re: Placement of Chopin's grace notes. [Re: BruceD]
Mark_C Online   content
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Registered: 11/11/09
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Originally Posted By: BruceD
.....As I'm training myself to play most ornaments in Chopin before the beat, I'm beginning to feel an affinity for that approach....

I'm guessing that you might have misstated that?
I mean, I'd love to think you meant exactly what you said smile but from the rest of what you have said, I'm guessing you meant on the beat.

If not, I'm thrilled. smile
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#1564831 - 11/26/10 10:23 PM Re: Placement of Chopin's grace notes. [Re: Mermanof83]
Mark_C Online   content
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Registered: 11/11/09
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Originally Posted By: Mermanof83
....LisztAddict posted that in the other thread as examples of pianists. The consensus was reached that most of those links actually displayed the pianists playing before the beat.....

That understates it.
LisztAddict indicated that he had just made a mistake in saying that a couple of those people played the grace notes on the beat. They all played the great majority of grace notes before the beat -- and that understates it too. It was probably about 98%.


Originally Posted By: SlatterFan
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
and there are indeed some places where I do play them on the beat (including one place where hardly anyone else does).

Please spill - where?

F# minor Polonaise, on the first trill -- exactly like Brailowsky does it at 0:20 on here.
In fact, that's the recording that I got it from. smile



This very recording was the thing that got me to come back to the piano and really study it after having stopped lessons (as a kid), and it remains my absolute favorite performance of this piece.
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#1564839 - 11/26/10 10:35 PM Re: Placement of Chopin's grace notes. [Re: gooddog]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 2464
Also, do most pianists really play them before the beat??? I'm far more used to hearing them played in the expressive style, rather than as mere passing notes. However, it may well be that the type of pianist who slip across such things without making any expressive issue is simply the type of pianist who I wouldn't want to spend much time listening to. The grace notes in themselves are not necessarily a deal-breaker, but those who tend to play them on the beat usually have a much greater feel for tension/release in general.
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#1564918 - 11/27/10 01:14 AM Re: Placement of Chopin's grace notes. [Re: Mark_C]
BruceD Offline
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Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: BruceD
.....As I'm training myself to play most ornaments in Chopin before the beat, I'm beginning to feel an affinity for that approach....

I'm guessing that you might have misstated that?
I mean, I'd love to think you meant exactly what you said smile but from the rest of what you have said, I'm guessing you meant on the beat.

If not, I'm thrilled. smile


Thanks for catching my mistake, which I corrected in the post. So, the thrill is gone!

Regards,
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#1564923 - 11/27/10 01:20 AM Re: Placement of Chopin's grace notes. [Re: BruceD]
Mark_C Online   content
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Registered: 11/11/09
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Originally Posted By: BruceD
.....So, the thrill is gone!

Completely. ha

Actually, funnily, the reason I caught it is that I 'almost' made the same mistake (in both directions) several times in typing my posts, and likewise in reading some posts -- it's an easy mistake to make -- so I've been forcing myself to pay extra attention in each instance to make sure I know which thing is being said.
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#1564941 - 11/27/10 02:36 AM Re: Placement of Chopin's grace notes. [Re: david_a]
wr Offline
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Registered: 11/23/07
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Originally Posted By: david_a
I believe that some should be and others maybe should not. The evidence that he wanted at least some of them to be on the beat is apparently pretty strong; I have done no research of my own.


So far, various posts in this thread have given evidence that supports playing them on the beat. Is there any evidence for not playing them before the beat, ever?

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#1564963 - 11/27/10 03:58 AM Re: Placement of Chopin's grace notes. [Re: wr]
ando Online   content
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Registered: 11/23/10
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I prefer grace notes before the beat, generally speaking. The reason being, when it's played before the beat you can alter the duration of the grace note more freely. When you play grace notes on the beat, the main note following the grace note tends to have to be placed in a rhythmically strong position so that it makes sense - thereby making the grace note a fixed duration.

When the grace note falls before the beat it could be anywhere from a full metric division before that beat, say 16th note, to a split second before. I feel it's a more free and spontaneous way to play grace notes. You can also make them all different within the same piece if you play them before the beat.

I had such discussions about ornaments with my professors at conservatories around the world when I studied classical guitar and they agree that certain composers had a predilection for ornaments being played a certain way, and there was a shift at some point between the old and the new (old being on the beat, new being before) - but they are just trends. In the end, it is up to the performer to judge the quality and purpose of a grace note. Some of the greatest performers were those who defied tradition and did it their way. I feel the Romantic composers leave room for interpretation with ornaments - much in the same way they used rubato for rhythmic freedom more than classical and baroque periods, so I would feel free to play ornaments in Romantic music any way I see fit. Baroque is a whole different story. A lot of that is just a notation convention stuff that people understood at the time. Baroque music has its own particular traits which should be adhered to.

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#1564977 - 11/27/10 04:59 AM Re: Placement of Chopin's grace notes. [Re: gooddog]
david_a Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
I think there are some multi-note grace note type of constructions that could sound ridiculous if played with their first note on the beat. But even some of the multi-note groups, especially the ones that simply outline a chord, can go on the beat to good effect.

Trill suffixes/terminations can look visually like a group of grace notes but IMO should always finish before the next beat.

What about the little notes in bar 23, 24, 30, 31, 45, and 47 of the e-minor op.posth. nocturne?

Bar 65 of Op. 62 #2?

I have no books or papers that would be of any interest in resolving this discussion. Anybody?
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#1564978 - 11/27/10 05:07 AM Re: Placement of Chopin's grace notes. [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
chopin_r_us Offline
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Registered: 09/17/10
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Loc: UK
Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi
Something that always puzzled me is that Schnabel said that appogiaturas should always be regarded as less important than the resolution. Much as I admire Schnabel's ideas of how to highlight ascent/descent etc. I could scarcely disagree more.
My teacher agreed with Schnabel. I've never been puzzled. Bar 37 in op 37. no. 1 being a good case in point - and thanks for pointing that out Arghhh.

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#1565027 - 11/27/10 07:55 AM Re: Placement of Chopin's grace notes. [Re: ando]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 2464
Originally Posted By: ando
I prefer grace notes before the beat, generally speaking. The reason being, when it's played before the beat you can alter the duration of the grace note more freely. When you play grace notes on the beat, the main note following the grace note tends to have to be placed in a rhythmically strong position so that it makes sense - thereby making the grace note a fixed duration.


I couldn't agree with that. I almost never play appogiaturas in a way that could be precisely notated rhythmically- not even in Mozart. I'd say the same of most older-generation performers who play them on the beat. I think there's actually a lot more room for freedom than if you land onto the main note. It makes the beats far less prominent, for me, whereas playing them before makes the beats stick out.
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#1565034 - 11/27/10 08:19 AM Re: Placement of Chopin's grace notes. [Re: chopin_r_us]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 2464
Originally Posted By: chopin_r_us
Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi
Something that always puzzled me is that Schnabel said that appogiaturas should always be regarded as less important than the resolution. Much as I admire Schnabel's ideas of how to highlight ascent/descent etc. I could scarcely disagree more.
My teacher agreed with Schnabel. I've never been puzzled. Bar 37 in op 37. no. 1 being a good case in point - and thanks for pointing that out Arghhh.


I'd certainly agree in that case. The B flat is a point of harmonic tension, not resolution. However, I think that grace notes are frequently underplayed due to the small type. They can are often far more interesting than the following notes. This is my problem with playing them before the beat. It makes them a mere passing detail, without allowing the sheer harmonic tension that frequently occurs within them to register (or even occur at all, in some case- where it occurs to soon to clash against a bass)
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#1565069 - 11/27/10 09:46 AM Re: Placement of Chopin's grace notes. [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
ando Online   content
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Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi
Originally Posted By: chopin_r_us
Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi
Something that always puzzled me is that Schnabel said that appogiaturas should always be regarded as less important than the resolution. Much as I admire Schnabel's ideas of how to highlight ascent/descent etc. I could scarcely disagree more.
My teacher agreed with Schnabel. I've never been puzzled. Bar 37 in op 37. no. 1 being a good case in point - and thanks for pointing that out Arghhh.


I'd certainly agree in that case. The B flat is a point of harmonic tension, not resolution. However, I think that grace notes are frequently underplayed due to the small type. They can are often far more interesting than the following notes. This is my problem with playing them before the beat. It makes them a mere passing detail, without allowing the sheer harmonic tension that frequently occurs within them to register (or even occur at all, in some case- where it occurs to soon to clash against a bass)


That presents a case for treating dissonant grace notes as a category on its own. A consonant grace note wouldn't face the implications you describe - it's just a decoration, not a suspended dissonance. I don't have a concrete rule. If I felt that I was missing an important aspect of suspension/resolution by playing grace notes before the beat, I would certainly re-evaluate the way I am playing them.

Regardless, I take your point. Some players feel that even if they don't use "struck" dissonances, they are still implied even if the grace note is before the beat. This is certainly a matter of interpretation.

Quote:
I couldn't agree with that. I almost never play appogiaturas in a way that could be precisely notated rhythmically- not even in Mozart. I'd say the same of most older-generation performers who play them on the beat. I think there's actually a lot more room for freedom than if you land onto the main note. It makes the beats far less prominent, for me, whereas playing them before makes the beats stick out.


I disagree that you can resolve onto a note in a rhythmically ambiguous way. If you look at it objectively, you will be placing that tone on a division somewhere - well if it works convincingly, anyway. A grace note before the beat doesn't face the same stricture because it is incidental to the next beat. It can literally exist anywhere because the brain is look for the uniting pulse which comes straight after it. By saying that you don't resolve onto a rhythmic division, you are saying that there is an almost random or disorganised aspect to your phrasing. The resolved tone should be placed in a position where it would still function, even if you left the grace note out. I would argue that the human mind would try to place your main note into representative rhythm in any case. The development of suspension/resolution in polyphonic music of the Renaissance clearly point towards this strong rhythmic aspect too.

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#1565088 - 11/27/10 10:24 AM Re: Placement of Chopin's grace notes. [Re: ando]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 2464
"That presents a case for treating dissonant grace notes as a category on its own. A consonant grace note wouldn't face the implications you describe - it's just a decoration, not a suspended dissonance."

Yeah, absolutely. Each case is judged on it's own merits. But it's worth noting that traditional classical appogiaturas tend be notated that way specifically because they are notes that pass onto harmonic ones. Sometime chromatic notes are referred to as an appogiatura, regardless of whether notated that way or not. That practice is not so rigorously adhered to in romantic music- but it's worth remembering that although the notes are written smaller, it can arguably be the case that the divergence from normal notation could be specifically to highlight the interest in the small note- not to necessarily to make it look less significant, as might be assumed.

"I disagree that you can resolve onto a note in a rhythmically ambiguous way. If you look at it objectively, you will be placing that tone on a division somewhere - well if it works convincingly, anyway."

Cortot certainly doesn't do that. Do you find him unconvincing? Why is any more the case that it must be played more on an exact division after the beat than before? I find it makes far more sense to free up the timing between the point of tension and the point of release. So if I were to approximate to two quavers, I would almost always play the 2nd quaver a fraction after where it would strictly fall- so as to dwell on the tension and marginally delay the release.

"A grace note before the beat doesn't face the same stricture because it is incidental to the next beat. It can literally exist anywhere because the brain is look for the uniting pulse which comes straight after it."

If you look for strict division and solid arrivals on each beat, that may be. But the old-school players who usually play grace notes on the beat seem to have been looking for the very opposite. It's usually a chance to free up the timing and spread the interest more freely, instead of between square reference points.


"By saying that you don't resolve onto a rhythmic division, you are saying that there is an almost random or disorganised aspect to your phrasing."

??? I'd call it freedom and illustration of harmonic tension and release. If you're used to modern standards of very slight freedom and rubato, you may hear it that way. But it's neither random nor disorganised.


"The resolved tone should be placed in a position where it would still function, even if you left the grace note out. I would argue that the human mind would try to place your main note into representative rhythm in any case. The development of suspension/resolution in polyphonic music of the Renaissance clearly point towards this strong rhythmic aspect too."

How do you play the appogiaturas in rondo alla turca then? I'm afraid that the above premise simply fails to make any sense, with a very large number of true appogiaturas.
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#1565272 - 11/27/10 02:53 PM Re: Placement of Chopin's grace notes. [Re: gooddog]
Mattardo Offline
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Registered: 02/11/08
Posts: 1306
The whole concept of the appogiatura is destroyed if it's not played on the beat. Numerous manuals on keyboard playing have demonstrated this was common practice, and like slatterfan mentioned, it was very important for singers. Lute players were very familiar with the appogiatura and they performed it by striking the grace note and then letting their finger fall on the main note - this naturally put the emphasis on the grace note, and was done on the beat. An appogiatura could be added to almost any note that needed a little extra expressiveness or feeling, and this worked well because the grace note stole time from the main note.

There were grace notes that came before the beat, but these wouldn't be appogiaturas strictly speaking. One edition of Chopin lists grace notes played before the beat as:
1- those that are anticipations of the following note
2- octave skips
3- those written before bar lines
Some simple rules, but not rules to never be broken. Examining the phrase and trying to figure out what Chopin was trying to say, can help in determing whether an on-the-beat grace note is the best way to go, or not. I would say that generally, it would be - but it always, always depends on the context.

Chopin was old fashioned with his trills, as well - starting them on the upper note. Nowadays, we generally learn the modern methods of grace notes and trills, and when we finally approach the older composers we are surprised to find that alot of things are the exact opposite! Piano performance was still evolving around the time of Chopin, so it's not surprising to find a few holdouts of the old school plodding along and hoping that those young whipper-snappers get with the program.


Edited by Mattardo (11/27/10 03:38 PM)

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#1565273 - 11/27/10 02:57 PM Re: Placement of Chopin's grace notes. [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
Mattardo Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/11/08
Posts: 1306
Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi
But it's worth noting that traditional classical appogiaturas tend be notated that way specifically because they are notes that pass onto harmonic ones.


It's almost as if they cringed at the very thought of writing down on paper certain harmonies that were considered unorthodox... >:) They saved themselves a lot of trouble by using grace notes, if that's the case!

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#1565284 - 11/27/10 03:06 PM Re: Placement of Chopin's grace notes. [Re: Mattardo]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 2464
Originally Posted By: Mattardo
Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi
But it's worth noting that traditional classical appogiaturas tend be notated that way specifically because they are notes that pass onto harmonic ones.


It's almost as if they cringed at the very thought of writing down on paper certain harmonies that were considered unorthodox... >:) They saved themselves a lot of trouble by using grace notes, if that's the case!



Do you think so? I honestly wonder if it's the opposite, odd as it may sound- that the tiny note is supposed to raise awareness that a clash occurs? Why write these funny little notes, if they don't mean to suggest something? i always wonder about the rondo alla turk. Should it really mean our typical even semiquavers, or was Mozart trying to imply a slight freedom of timing and more of a sigh? It seems so unnatural to me to think that they might written that way to emphasise a resolution rather than the suspension. And why write this strange notation if it isn't supposed to imply something? I always suspect it's supposed to draw greater attention to the clashes.
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