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#2043586 - 03/05/13 08:56 PM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: zrtf90]
Polyphonist Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7776
Loc: New York City
keystring,

I've sent you a reply to the private message you sent me.
_________________________
Regards,

Polyphonist

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#2043809 - 03/06/13 08:17 AM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: zrtf90]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2458
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
More lunchtime ramblings from the verbose one (but I did mull overnight on it).

E & O E, I'm afraid - I don't have time presently to proofread. frown
_________________________

Polyphonist, the analysis of the first four bars was done on Jan 14 (if you care to look further back - there's no need as you seem to be fully aware of what's happening here) but we looked again on Feb 6/7 and drew more out of it.
_________________________

Keystring, I understand your concerns. When we started this thing back in August with the Moonlight it was quite clear that our ability to analyse was being hampered by a lack of musical theory. I think we have addressed this problem and given the time we've been doing it, seven months, I think the progress is first class. It's tough stuff if it's unfamiliar and needs time to sink in. It's not like learning the dates of English Monarchs or the Presidents of the US which is just memorising names and numbers, it's about understanding and assimilating the knowledge too and getting familiar with using it.

When we looked at the Clementi sonatinas there was difficulty in grappling with the variation in themes and key ideas as they moved throughout the sonata as a whole and a knowledge of forms for the non-sonata-principle movements was required - and will continue to be the case - but they are very important to the sonata as a whole. None of the greats composers, to my knowledge, has written a sonata using the sonata principle for all the movements.

In tracing the history, the movements and their importance changes. With Haydn and Mozart the sonata-principle opening is the intellectual and important part of the sonata with a lilting, lyrical and emotional movement to follow and finish with an upbeat easy to understand rondo with a simple and catchy melody.

Beethoven upended this state of affairs and the final movement became the very point of the sonata and it was here that that sonata principle was most appropriately employed. Even the Moonlight, a work from his "middle" period has the sonata-principle movement at the end.

Before we can understand enough of what was happening here we need to look more closely at the themes in conjunction with the keys and recognise a theme from only two or three of its notes. This is not an insignificant skill and not one we're going to cover in a couple of posts.

We have further work to do in coping with analysis of pieces that are beyond our ability to play - not just big sonatas but also symphonies which are also a major part of the story.

When we started with our first real sonata, the Haydn, we noticed that the first subject became a first group of subjects and additional (transitional) material thrown in as a segue from one point to another that had little significance to the story but helped it move along. There was more going on here. We need to be able to sort the wheat from the chaff if we're to continue making progress.

The "easy" piece and "more adventurous" piece that were thrown in along the way were arrived at by consensus to sweeten the medicine as it were. They needn't be followed unless you need the extra practise. These are intended as flowers along the edge of the path to brighten our journey not as weeds that might thwart or hinder our progress.

The next sonata is scheduled to be the Mozart K. 331 Air and variations. I'm hoping with this to exercise the pattern recognition idea that flummoxed much of our appreciation of Clementi.

I'm expecting to move onto sonatas by Beethoven and Schubert after that and, if we don't look at symphonies along the way, end up with Schubert's Wanderer Fantasy (briefly) and Liszt's B Minor Sonata. At this point my work will be done and my knowledge already beyond exhausted.

We may not be doing Classical Sonata Analysis all the way through this thread but it is most definitely the end point and the all consuming idea through it.
________________________

Few advanced pianists do not memorise their music. It's an easy choice. Anyone who plays better than they sight-read makes use of memory by practise and repetition. It is but a small step to change that from a fleeting visit to a permanent residence in the cerebellum and with it all the attached benefits of intimate knowledge far deeper and more rewarding than a cursory few weeks can impart. It is also the fastest and easiest way to restore lost technique after years away. But it's a choice, take it or leave it.

But playing also involves interpreting. What is the composer trying to say with this melody and harmonic progression? It goes beyond the notes on the page and it is these that I'm trying to bring out when I'm looking at the 'points of interest'. It also benefits our ability to listen. It is as useful to understand a passage in a symphony or a concerto as well as a bagatelle on the keyboard. This is for me the whole point of analysis - it's not just filling in the chord names the way we rattle off a crossword puzzle. The music and the story it's trying to tell is the important thing not the method of solution.

It is a slow and measured journey ahead of us. I think if it's rushed the goal would not be met. We may know what sonata form is at the end of it but we may not understand it anymore than we can recite a defining phrase for it.
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Richard

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#2043819 - 03/06/13 08:33 AM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: zrtf90]
Greener Offline

Platinum Supporter until July 22 2014


Registered: 05/29/12
Posts: 1267
Loc: Toronto
Originally Posted By: Keystring
This is actually where I got lost last night, because the discussion kept going back and forth between the 102/1 and 30/3, and I had downloaded a 3rd Mendelssohn to which I saw a link. These were both part of the Song Without Words - so not sonatas. I think I might have been part of that.

We've clearly had some diversions along the way. This thread has a history of development going back to last summer. And there were threads (Moonlight Sonata, Bach Prelude, Chopin Prelude, Binary form analysis) previous to this one under different titles. There were highs of 100 posts a day and cross posts galore. Those were the Glory days I guess ...

At slower times, activity was from just a few and it was unanimous to utilize this thread for practical work and share individual analysis interpretations. That is where the random pieces (Mendelssohn, Chopin Nocturne, Chopin Waltzes, Bach Chorale...) have come in that have diverted us from a normal flow of analysis that this thread title would suggest.

At the time though, this was the main interest of the participants on the thread and all were in favour.

Originally Posted By: zrtf90
Polyphonist, welcome to the thread. It looks like you're eager to make progress. I think it might be a good idea to marshal the troops before going forward with anything new and find out who we're working with.

Out of interest, this is what I have added (some still in development) to my repertoire -- actually playing post analysis -- since last August:

Beethoven - Moonlight Sonata mvmt 1(fixes applied)
Bach Prelude No. 1
Chopin Prelude Em
Bach Little Prelude 2 & 4
Schubert Musical Moments 6
Chopin Waltz A Flat Major
Chopin Watlz C# Minor
Chopin Nocturne Eb
Bach Cantata 147
Mendelsshohn 102, No.1, No. 6

I'm just pointing this out for the value this thread has been for me. It is my main (only) source of music learning. Prior to joining the Beethoven thread in August, I had not learned a new classical work in over 30 years. And had NEVER read a classical score.

Not all of this list has been analyzed on this thread. But, all is a result of being an active participant and seeking out select pieces to work on next. There are plenty of others I haven't got to yet (will be going back to select a Clementi for sure.)

Please count me among the troops.

Welcome Polyphonist. Happy to follow your or anyone's lead of where things develop next.
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#2043837 - 03/06/13 09:05 AM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: zrtf90]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11845
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: zrtf90

Polyphonist, the analysis of the first four bars was done on Jan 14 (if you care to look further back - there's no need as you seem to be fully aware of what's happening here) but we looked again on Feb 6/7 and drew more out of it, by everyone.

I am interested in what Polyphonist has to say, in addition to what was written before.

I'm pulling in what pph wrote, for my own reference. I have the original discussion on the side in Word.

Chopin Nocturne in Eb Op. 9/2

Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Bar 1: E flat major prolonged for the first 3 beats, movement through the passing tone D to C dominant seventh chord
Bar 2: Resolution to F minor through the diminished chord on the 3rd beat
Bar 3: Dominant of the original key moving through the B natural to C minor; diminished chord leads through A natural to the dominant
Bar 4: 4th scale degree in the Bbsus chord resolves down, and the phrase culminates with an authentic cadence back to E flat major.


I have three sets of notes in front of me: my own, the Greener/Richard, and the above. Mine are between the two, in that G/R have every possible chord for every pulse (eighth note being a pulse), while PPh is giving the broad outline.

The choice of how detailed to get in chords is something that we often discuss when I do analysis. It depends on the effect - what the musician and audience hear; (also what the musician wants to bring out FOR the audience to hear); which also depends on what is in the music. As a rule of thumb, fast music whizzes by so you tend to hear a broad outline of the harmony; slow music does the opposite. But that isn't a "rule" either, because the composer may have written it in such a way that even in fast music the musician will hear distinct sounds.

I would hear the broad outline in those four measures, while being aware of some of the smaller movements going on. For example, m. 1 is essentially one long Eb major, but it visits a kind of rootless Bb7b9 or passing tones, which emphasize that we're in Eb major. The beginning of music often emphasizes the key in this way.

Starting with the first 4 measures makes sense, because as Greener and Richard saw, the Nocturne keeps going through A and B - m. 1 - 4 is "A". We have lots of variations (and repeats) of this A going on, so it seems a good idea to get a handle on it.

While it is true that all the chords were discussed previously, I did not get a general picture of the music before harmonically. I had a list of the chords, and might derive a general picture through it. I find this broad view to be helpful - let's say complementary.


Edited by keystring (03/06/13 01:18 PM)

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#2043864 - 03/06/13 10:43 AM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: zrtf90]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11845
Loc: Canada
Chopin Nocturne in Eb Op. 9/2

Personal points of interest from reading earlier discussions.

“cantilena”
“fiotura"


@Richard - You used these terms a few times. I can guess that "cantilena" has to do with a singing tone. By looking at the notes, I'm guessing that "fiotura" means when you have a whole bunch of notes crammed together and they have to fit in a flurry. Is this essentially correct?

Originally Posted By: zrtf90
Jan. 13 The most awkward patch of accidentals occurs in M12 and 20. The measures are identical ...


I looked at/played the measure(s) in question. Rather than seeing a large number of accidentals - which definitely are there - I looked for patterns. For the chords in question, I have Bb, B(7)/A, E/G#, C7/G, F7, Bb7 (the Bb7 goes to Eb and the original theme in the next measure).

For beat 3 (pulses 7-9) I see/hear a chromatic downward movement of the bass line, and once I have that, the accidental almost disappear. The E/G# is a bit strange since you are used to seeing Bb going to Eb, but if you are used to the E major chord (as Greener would be), that one falls into place. After that we have a circle of fifths: C7 => F7 => Bb7 => tonic and right back to the A theme. ... This is also where analysis plays a role for playing music.

I know that Greener's first background is playing by ear and knowing his chords that way - a huge advantage that I'm still trying to acquire. Maybe that might be useful. (?)

This was interesting:
Originally Posted By: zrtf90

The diatonic chords of Eb are Eb, Ab and Bb majors (I, IV and V), F, G and C minors (ii, iii, and vi). I would expect C minor rather than C major in M2.
Measure 6 is an arpeggio of C major, G, C, C, E, G, G. The appoggiatura notes, Db, F, and Ab all have accent marks (>) over them making them 'pointed'. They would would otherwise have been unaccented notes off the beat.
I don't think I could begin to understand what was going on in Chopin's head. My experience is that great composers are great from birth. They get better with age or experience but Chopin, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, even Lennon and McCartney were writing 'characteristically' from the outset of their musical careers.
I suspect that Chopin knew what effect he wanted to achieve and knew instinctively how to arrive at it.


You were pointed out the CEG, rather than the CEb which would be using the notes in the key of Eb major. You see this in m. 2 and m. 6. We know that beats 1 - 4 are repeated in beats 5 - 6, so m. 6 is a variation of measure 2.

Measures 2 and 6 end in Fm, which is ii of the key of Eb major. We know that C7 is V7 of Fm. We might be able to hear that movement. I also find the sudden major sound gives an interesting shade or colour to the music. Beat 3 begins the F hammering in the bass.

How do you see/hear the chord in beat 3 (m. 2)? E dim/F which moves to Fm by half step? It's almost like a top half of our C7 if it got extended, with the bottom half having fallen away.


Edited by keystring (03/06/13 12:46 PM)

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#2043883 - 03/06/13 11:31 AM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: Greener]
Polyphonist Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7776
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Greener

Welcome Polyphonist. Happy to follow your or anyone's lead of where things develop next.



Thanks! smile
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Regards,

Polyphonist

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#2043888 - 03/06/13 11:41 AM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: keystring]
Polyphonist Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7776
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: keystring

How do you see/hear the chord in beat 3 (m. 2)? E dim/F which moves to Fm by half step? It's almost like a top half of our C7 if it got extended, with the bottom half having fallen away.


It's a way to prolong the long C7-Fm cadence happening in the second bar. It also adds aesthetics: the harmony of the diminished chord resolving into F minor is very beautiful. The whole phrase is shaped very nicely, in fact; you can follow the motion of the line by looking at the bass notes (first note of each LH triplet), (Eb, D, C, F, Bb, B natural, C, A natural, Bb, Eb, eliminating repetitions). There is a nice balance of chromatic movement and leaps.


Edited by Polyphonist (03/06/13 11:53 AM)
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Polyphonist

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#2043920 - 03/06/13 12:58 PM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: Polyphonist]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11845
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: keystring

How do you see/hear the chord in beat 3 (m. 2)? E dim/F which moves to Fm by half step? It's almost like a top half of our C7 if it got extended, with the bottom half having fallen away.


It's a way to prolong the long C7-Fm cadence happening in the second bar. It also adds aesthetics: the harmony of the diminished chord resolving into F minor is very beautiful. The whole phrase is shaped very nicely, in fact; you can follow the motion of the line by looking at the bass notes (first note of each LH triplet), (Eb, D, C, F, Bb, B natural, C, A natural, Bb, Eb, eliminating repetitions). There is a nice balance of chromatic movement and leaps.


Thank you. I see all of that. smile

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#2043928 - 03/06/13 01:12 PM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: Polyphonist]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist


I'm going to start off with a harmonic overview of the first four bars:

Bar 1: E flat major prolonged for the first 3 beats, movement through the passing tone D to C dominant seventh chord

Great, but I would add that because this is so slow we could actually think of each beat as a “measure”. In other words, Chopin does the exact opposite in something like his Bb Minor Scherzo, written in ¾, but going so fast that we hear each measure as a beat, and then the notes within the measure sound like sub-division of a beat. 1 2 3&a sounds like just one beat, with 3&a SO fast that it sounds like a rip going into the next bar, which only sounds like beat two.

My apologies to anyone who can't follow this. But you will know exactly what I mean. :

In this nocturne, if we look closer and for a moment look at each beat as a measure, fast measures of course, then beat 2 of bar 1 is pretty long. A lot happens there. So I would definitely mention IMMEDIATELY that you have Ddim7 on beat two, the real beat two. And that leads to an association with a Bb7b9 chord because later, as this theme reappears, there is a Bb7 in the same place. I have the world's worst memory, so exactly which variation uses the Bb7 chord as opposed to the Ddim7 has always been a problem when I put away the score, since both sound equally good.

Then on beat 3 and 4, Chopin does a sleight of hand by starting out with something that sounds much like an Ebsus, but he has a true Eb chord in the LH. The F in the melody can function as a 9, sort of Eb (add9), and it can just be circles or tagged as non-harmonic. But the cool thing is that as he resolves this F to Eb, resolving tension in the melody, on beat four he then adds tension in the bass with a passing tone. The D.

It can get really anal, trying to put into words, but you hear the melody relax, while the bass adds tension, Eb/D, and I don't like calling this an Ebmaj7 chord because that's now what we really hear.

Then it all resolves EXACTLY as you said. And these details that I mentioned may help, or they may be a pain the rear. The only important thing to me is that there is some kind of dominant feel on the second beat. Maybe I should have said that. smile
Quote:

Bar 2: Resolution to F minor through the diminished chord on the 3rd beat.

That's good. The dim7 chord just adds tension to the dominant. C7, then throw in Edim7, the two together merge or morph into a C7b9 feel, very common, and the F bass is an anticipation. I absolutely agree with what you just said, just adding a couple details...
Quote:

Bar 3: Dominant of the original key moving through the B natural to C minor; diminished chord leads through A natural to the dominant.

Perfect. Just a word of note to people learning dim7 chords. There has been a huge controversy in the past about naming them, whether to use the bass note (no clear bass not here) or to use the root by stacking the thirds. If we name the dim7 chord as Adim7, again you have the top of an F7b9, and that can help students understand why it wants to slip to Bb something. Or by finding the theoretical root of the dim7 chord (A), you can expect the bass to step up ½ step, which it also does.

Quote:

Bar 4: 4th scale degree in the Bbsus chord resolves down, and the phrase culminates with an authentic cadence back to E flat major.

Perfect.

The problem is always that in trying to put these blasted concepts into words, it always feels as if we are destroying the music. When I am teaching I tend to skip small steps, or I fall so deep into details that I over-complicate. Trying to find a happy medium between simplistic and anal is VERY difficult. wink
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#2043933 - 03/06/13 01:21 PM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: zrtf90]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: zrtf90

Few advanced pianists do not memorise their music.

That is absolutely not true.

Performing "classical" pianists are expected, by tradition, to play from memory in SOLO work. This is also true in concerto work.

It is not ever true in accompanying, nor is it true for ensemble work.

For every dollar I have made playing solo, in public, I have made $1000 playing in groups of some kind or as an accompanist. That figure is an UNDERSTATEMENT. Furthermore those of us who are very VERY fast sight-readers, and I am one of them, will always debate the idea that we are freer, in all cases, when playing without music, even in public.

There is music that I can pull apart in detail, tell you what every note does, what every mark might mean, but I still like to have the music in front of me if it is not fast and does not require big leaps. Why? Because while I am playing something for the 10 000th time, I STILL may discover some tiny detail in the notation that gives me a new idea. This is heightened in editing, which makes me go into even more detail about each mark, each dot, each dynamic marking, each word, each notational choice.

Now, if you mean that few advanced pianists are unable to memorize their music, there I would agree. There is a time and place for memory. But that is all.
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#2043963 - 03/06/13 02:14 PM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: zrtf90]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2458
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Cantilena is a flowing melody line.

Fioritura (plural fioriture) is embellishment of said melody line. The fioriture here are in M4, M8 and most notably in M16 and M24. I can't find the post where I mentioned it - I know I have - but I hope I didn't mis-spell it.

Originally Posted By: zrtf90
Few advanced pianists do not memorise their music...Anyone who plays better than they sight-read makes use of memory by practise and repetition.

I thought the context was clear and I still think so now. Of course, in a court of law I could be hung for treason.

E & O E - again.

_________________________
Richard

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#2043990 - 03/06/13 03:08 PM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: Gary D.]
Polyphonist Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7776
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist


I'm going to start off with a harmonic overview of the first four bars:

Bar 1: E flat major prolonged for the first 3 beats, movement through the passing tone D to C dominant seventh chord

Great, but I would add that because this is so slow we could actually think of each beat as a “measure”. In other words, Chopin does the exact opposite in something like his Bb Minor Scherzo, written in ¾, but going so fast that we hear each measure as a beat, and then the notes within the measure sound like sub-division of a beat. 1 2 3&a sounds like just one beat, with 3&a SO fast that it sounds like a rip going into the next bar, which only sounds like beat two.

My apologies to anyone who can't follow this. But you will know exactly what I mean. :

In this nocturne, if we look closer and for a moment look at each beat as a measure, fast measures of course, then beat 2 of bar 1 is pretty long. A lot happens there. So I would definitely mention IMMEDIATELY that you have Ddim7 on beat two, the real beat two. And that leads to an association with a Bb7b9 chord because later, as this theme reappears, there is a Bb7 in the same place. I have the world's worst memory, so exactly which variation uses the Bb7 chord as opposed to the Ddim7 has always been a problem when I put away the score, since both sound equally good.

Then on beat 3 and 4, Chopin does a sleight of hand by starting out with something that sounds much like an Ebsus, but he has a true Eb chord in the LH. The F in the melody can function as a 9, sort of Eb (add9), and it can just be circles or tagged as non-harmonic. But the cool thing is that as he resolves this F to Eb, resolving tension in the melody, on beat four he then adds tension in the bass with a passing tone. The D.

It can get really anal, trying to put into words, but you hear the melody relax, while the bass adds tension, Eb/D, and I don't like calling this an Ebmaj7 chord because that's now what we really hear.

Then it all resolves EXACTLY as you said. And these details that I mentioned may help, or they may be a pain the rear. The only important thing to me is that there is some kind of dominant feel on the second beat. Maybe I should have said that. smile
Quote:

Bar 2: Resolution to F minor through the diminished chord on the 3rd beat.

That's good. The dim7 chord just adds tension to the dominant. C7, then throw in Edim7, the two together merge or morph into a C7b9 feel, very common, and the F bass is an anticipation. I absolutely agree with what you just said, just adding a couple details...
Quote:

Bar 3: Dominant of the original key moving through the B natural to C minor; diminished chord leads through A natural to the dominant.

Perfect. Just a word of note to people learning dim7 chords. There has been a huge controversy in the past about naming them, whether to use the bass note (no clear bass not here) or to use the root by stacking the thirds. If we name the dim7 chord as Adim7, again you have the top of an F7b9, and that can help students understand why it wants to slip to Bb something. Or by finding the theoretical root of the dim7 chord (A), you can expect the bass to step up ½ step, which it also does.

Quote:

Bar 4: 4th scale degree in the Bbsus chord resolves down, and the phrase culminates with an authentic cadence back to E flat major.

Perfect.

The problem is always that in trying to put these blasted concepts into words, it always feels as if we are destroying the music. When I am teaching I tend to skip small steps, or I fall so deep into details that I over-complicate. Trying to find a happy medium between simplistic and anal is VERY difficult. wink


Thanks for the more in-depth analysis. Yes, I can definitely follow it and this might also be helpful for students looking for a more complete explanation.

Now, about the Nocturne: why don't we take a look at the coda? We can analyze how Chopin takes the motifs from earlier sections of the piece and uses them to build up into a climax, from which he lets the RH notes after the fermata gradually resolve the tension down to the hushed final two bars.
It is interesting how Chopin uses only the notes of the E flat major triad in the last measures, but still creates a beautiful and satisfying resolution. In fact, the entire section from the fermata to the end is a big V-I cadence.
_________________________
Regards,

Polyphonist

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#2044005 - 03/06/13 03:33 PM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: zrtf90]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2458
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Originally Posted By: Polyhonist
Now, about the Nocturne: why don't we take a look at the coda?
That would be appropriate and welcome.
_________________________
Richard

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#2044054 - 03/06/13 05:54 PM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: zrtf90]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: zrtf90

I thought the context was clear and I still think so now. Of course, in a court of law I could be hung for treason.

E & O E - again.

I suppose my point came out harsh. Sorry about that. It's a visceral response from years of reading about memory being over-emphasized to the point that other skils, such as really good sight-reading, become under-developed.

When I stress the importance of being able to read from score (when scores are involved), I often run into so much resistance that I am shouted down. frown
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Piano Teacher

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#2044139 - 03/06/13 08:38 PM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: Gary D.]
Polyphonist Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7776
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Originally Posted By: zrtf90

I thought the context was clear and I still think so now. Of course, in a court of law I could be hung for treason.

E & O E - again.

I suppose my point came out harsh. Sorry about that. It's a visceral response from years of reading about memory being over-emphasized to the point that other skils, such as really good sight-reading, become under-developed.

When I stress the importance of being able to read from score (when scores are involved), I often run into so much resistance that I am shouted down. frown


Not at all...I agree with you completely. Sight reading is a neglected skill. What bothers me is how some students just cannot sight-read. They take ages to learn the notes of a piece, and then have to gradually work on it with their teacher until it sounds polished. They are spoonfed the music, always having months upon months to complete even a short work. Then, later, this comes back to bite them when they find they can't manage a musical career because it is sometimes necessary to learn pieces fast-which requires you to be good at SIGHT-READING.

Also, being a good sight-reader can be a lot of fun. One of the most fun things I do on a regular basis is read through duet after duet with another pianist, a pleasure I would be deprived of if I had not taken the time to get my sight reading up to a high level.
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#2044143 - 03/06/13 08:42 PM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: zrtf90]
keystring Offline
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I want to address the issue of memorizing again. It's come up time and again in this thread and others before it, and I ignored it since the main point for me was analysis and understanding how the music works. But I did note some underlying ideas. One seemed to be that "learning" a piece meant memorizing it. Another was the unspoken idea (assumption?) that it was necessary or superior to do so. Another was the idea that you cannot play as expressively or well if the music was not memorized, because having the music in front of you would hamper this. These all seemed to be givens, like fact. We already know that there is some controversy in the Pianist forum on whether it is actually a negative thing in public performances.

Another thing that I picked up is that memorizing was a slow and tedious, time-consuming affair. Again, I didn't pay too much attention since I was looking for other things.

I've never memorized huge works because I never got that far with music, but I did memorize things like sonatinas without wanting to. This was before I learned anything (at all) formally. What I was actually doing was perceiving broad patterns in music, which to me were nameless. You have your ABA patterns, your subjects with variations which appear in other keys, and other smaller patterns. To me these were both audible and visible in long swaths on a page. Like, if you look at a melody that repeats, the line of notes takes on the same up-and-down shape. The opposite would be to memorize one note at a time, one chord at a time, like a long shopping list. I suppose most people do something that is between the two extremes.

We had this section that zrtf90 called "The most awkward patch of accidentals" occurring in m. 12 & 20. Trying to memorize or even play that awkward patch of accidentals would be a pain and take forever. But if you see and hear the chromatic descent of the bass line, and the dominant-tonic pattern happening (even the Enat, which could be an Fb in other circumstances, has some of that), then it becomes predictable. So if you are setting out to memorize, then seeing and hearing these patterns, and maybe making them as meaningful as possible, might speed up the process. (?)

And how about reading making playing less spontaneous. Is it because of the way we learn to read? Could that be changed? And could reading music that has become familiar end up giving us musical reminders through visual clues that might actual help make our playing more musical? I.e. must it be an either/or, or the idea that one is better than the other? I love playing "what if" and seeing where that leads.

Edit: Polyphonist - we cross-posted at the same time.


Edited by keystring (03/06/13 08:43 PM)

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#2044157 - 03/06/13 08:59 PM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: Polyphonist]
keystring Offline
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Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
They take ages to learn the notes of a piece, and then have to gradually work on it with their teacher until it sounds polished. They are spoonfed the music, always having months upon months to complete even a short work.


One underlying problem in music lessons is the underlying perceived goals of lessons, if that is even thought through. If it is to produce a slate of pieces one after the other, rather than acquiring skills such as reading, technique, and interpretation skills, then these will be the results. At least as older students we can play a role in what we learn, and what goals we set.

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#2044184 - 03/06/13 09:39 PM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: zrtf90]
Greener Offline

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Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
What bothers me is how some students just cannot sight-read.

Guilty as charged.
Originally Posted By: Keystring
We had this section that zrtf90 called "The most awkward patch of accidentals" occurring in m. 12 & 20. Trying to memorize or even play that awkward patch of accidentals would be a pain and take forever.

I don't understand why. This was an easy section to memorize. The tougher ones are the occurrences of M4, M8, M27 and remembering at which place in the score to include the little 16th note accent or the 11 in the LH.

Of course, I am not defending memorization or deflating the value of good sight reading. I also totally get the absolute necessity of it, if/when playing in ensemble.

The reality for me though, is that I am just learning to read now and have relied heavily on memorization to this point in my playing. Not a good thing, but is what it is. The good side of the equation is I am likely to be quicker then some to memorize as a result, and can sit down and play just about anything I have every played without a score. The bad side is I am very slow at learning a new piece such as this from a score. Optimum for me thus, would be to become good at both.
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#2044194 - 03/06/13 10:04 PM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: Greener]
Polyphonist Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Greener

The reality for me though, is that I am just learning to read now and have relied heavily on memorization to this point in my playing. Not a good thing, but is what it is. The good side of the equation is I am likely to be quicker then some to memorize as a result, and can sit down and play just about anything I have every played without a score. The bad side is I am very slow at learning a new piece such as this from a score. Optimum for me thus, would be to become good at both.


You have to have a balance between the two, yes.

Would anyone like to add something about the Nocturne? Meanwhile, I'm going to say that the "awkward patch of accidentals" in bars 12 and 20 is actually very natural and easy to remember, for me at least...
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#2044338 - 03/07/13 05:23 AM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: Greener]
keystring Offline
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Originally Posted By: Greener

Originally Posted By: Keystring
We had this section that zrtf90 called "The most awkward patch of accidentals" occurring in m. 12 & 20. Trying to memorize or even play that awkward patch of accidentals would be a pain and take forever.

I don't understand why. This was an easy section to memorize.

That is the point that I was trying to make. I didn't see it as awkward either. As soon as you understand what the music is doing so that it is not a series of notes with lots of accidentals, but rather as chords with familiar relationships, then the music starts to flow in places. That is also the true role of theory. I would include as "theory" the things that one may have in the ear or a kind of instinct before ever having a name for it.

What I was trying to say is that if you see it as a place that has a lot of accidentals, then it seems awkward to play. But if you see it as music that makes sense via the chords, the descending bass line etc, then it is not awkward.


Edited by keystring (03/07/13 05:31 AM)

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#2044360 - 03/07/13 07:15 AM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: zrtf90]
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When I hear Shakespeare being rehearsed I get a completely different auditory perception when the books are dropped than from when they're read - even after learning the lines.

Those of us who drive to work on a daily basis seldom use a map or make wrong turns. We remember the journey. I know the location of every pot-hole and road surface change on my forty mile journey. It's not something I've consciously done and I'm not unique.

If we didn't memorise and learn we would not have progressed as a species. Many of us find memorising a crucial part of the learning process. I do. Even when playing familiar music from the score I play differently. I'm sure Richter does fine when following a score - I don't. Playing from the score hampers more than it helps me. Rock songs I play by ear and wouldn't countenance using a score.

I can also audiate at sight far better than I can play at sight.

I would not consider learning a new piece at the keyboard without first memorising the sound mentally but Jeff is new to reading and since he was the main participant during the Chopin Nocturne discussion and we were analysing it with a view to performance I considered all the things I felt might hinder playing from the score. I listed other things not just accidentals. I don't think they're a pain and take forever I just think they might have slowed down the reading if he didn't have a quick look beforehand, the same way that I looked at notes with more than three ledger lines or places where he might have to look down to make accurate leaps.

I know that not everybody consciously and actively memorises but going over aides-memoires can still help clarify the music in the head and allow us to hear features that might otherwise have been missed.

Not everything is black and white.
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#2044363 - 03/07/13 07:24 AM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: keystring]
Greener Offline

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Originally Posted By: keystring
if you see it as music that makes sense via the chords, the descending bass line etc, then it is not awkward.

Yes, agree totally. Not awkward to play or remember, but awkward how it looks on the page when you begin to understand how it is written. Funny thus, the more you learn the more complex things seem to become. Not the other way around.

Originally Posted By: keystring

And how about reading making playing less spontaneous. Is it because of the way we learn to read? Could that be changed? And could reading music that has become familiar end up giving us musical reminders through visual clues that might actual help make our playing more musical? I.e. must it be an either/or, or the idea that one is better than the other?

I once thought that people that played from a score, just needed the score. No practice, just the score. In other words they could see this Nocturne for the very first time and play it just as beautifully as Chopin intended. I've since learned that would be extremely rare. Even great performers such as Valentina and Chopinstein would have it well rehearsed prior to performing, whether reading or not.

So then, reading is more of a prompt of where you need to be at any given time within the performance. And in this context it is simply replacing or making remembering a bit easier. Neither has anything to do with how well one has practiced expressiveness and interpretation. By this logic thus it should make no (notta) difference, in terms of how well or how expressive it is performed. Thus, one is not better then the other, just different.

EDIT: Cross posted with Richard. Not a contrary view, just a little variance ... ie different smile


Edited by Greener (03/07/13 07:49 AM)

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#2044686 - 03/07/13 06:30 PM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: zrtf90]
keystring Offline
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I learned some things about music study a few years in:

- There is usually more than one side to anything. If you try to get a definition of how something works, you'll fall short for that reason.
- For any truth, there is often an opposite one, and they are both right. As soon you as you stick to either, you have a problem.
- As students, especially in the beginning when everything is an unknown, we hold on to what we're told or read as an anchor. This flies in the face of the first two things. I would follow any thing too tightly and too extremely.
- If you are senior, teaching, or just explaining things, your "truth" may become an absolute for that reason.

I'm taking all this together, and applying it to the question of memorizing music and reading. What we have are experiences and conclusions by senior players. It's something to test out. It gives part of a larger picture. There may be different views and experiences, some even opposing, yet no need to choose which one is right or wrong. If we keep that in mind, then I think we're in a decent place.

A second thing is that whatever we think we understand may actually have deeper layers and more to it. Time and again, things that I assumed I knew about turned out to have surprising sides to them. I think reading music, playing music, developing music, are all in that category. I see that just in this bit of discussion. I am not a piano teacher and do not have decades of experience teaching. I'm still finding out about these things. They bit I've learned, it is a rich thing, or so it seems.

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#2044708 - 03/07/13 06:56 PM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: Greener]
keystring Offline
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Reading both Greener and Richard. Questions come up on what it means to play from the score, or to learn music.

Reading can be different things. The one we see most frequently is "prima vista" - the thing an accompanist does when handed a score as she comes in, and has to play what's there immediately. It is a specialized skill. It is good to have some of that, so that you can go through a new score and see what it's about before working on it. Even here, you take a moment to look through the whole thing, consider key signature, modulations, ABA patterns etc. Analysis gives us the ability to recognize some of that.

Reading is also when you are working with a piece for a period of weeks, and you're going over familiar territory. If you perform with the score in front of you, it would also be the "familiar territory" scenario.

When you are working on a piece, reading may include examining the chunk you are working on. And here we get into the "awkward looking measure", and Greener being new to reading (but not to chord progressions). I would think that "reading" here involves examining that measure, seeing and hearing the patterns. Then you are playing what is in the score (reading), while anticipating some of what is going on because you understand progressions. You relate the unknown (notation) with the known (chords in the hand and ear), until eventually they become one. After a while, some of these patterns will go from your eyes to your ear - you see patterns, and you hear some of it.

Another thing that was mentioned there were measures with relatively high ledger lines. Those were played in octaves, and if you can see the octaves - as well as hear the pattern (if you're a 'hearer') then you can anticipate some of what is up high there. Those of us with mixed backgrounds have to see what we pull together between new and old.

Originally Posted By: Greener
I once thought that people that played from a score, just needed the score. No practice, just the score. In other words they could see this Nocturne for the very first time and play it just as beautifully as Chopin intended. I've since learned that would be extremely rare. Even great performers such as Valentina and Chopinstein would have it well rehearsed prior to performing, whether reading or not.


This goes into another area, I think, which is where I'm in a learning phase as a student. This is the idea of developing and interpreting a piece. Horowitz is interesting, because his big ambition was actually to be a composer, but he was forced to become a performer when political events affected his family. So he looked at the score with the eyes and ears of a composer.

Actually reverse this. A composer starts with music in his mind, and only part of what he hears can actually get onto the paper. The symbolism is crude. If you are a by ear player, imagine the things that you improvise or invent, and wanting to put them on paper. There are things that can't be symbolized. So if you reverse this, you look at the score, and you see what you can draw out of that. The things like phrases, where a statement is being made, like parts of a "song" - what do you perceive in it? What do you want to draw out? The "little notes" that you found hard to remember, Greener, do they have significance as music? If you were creating this music by ear, would you have a reason for those little notes, and why would you have them?

So when these performers work on the music, they are not working to memorize it - they are working to develop it and make it their own. Memorizing would be part of what they do as well, if they aim to play from memory. But that's only part of what is happening. What we hear is a finished product, but the performer as crafted it in stages and parts - each in his own way.

Btw, these are random thoughts, fwiw.

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#2045071 - 03/08/13 01:24 PM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: keystring]
Gary D. Offline
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Originally Posted By: keystring
I want to address the issue of memorizing again. It's come up time and again in this thread and others before it, and I ignored it since the main point for me was analysis and understanding how the music works. But I did note some underlying ideas. One seemed to be that "learning" a piece meant memorizing it. Another was the unspoken idea (assumption?) that it was necessary or superior to do so. Another was the idea that you cannot play as expressively or well if the music was not memorized, because having the music in front of you would hamper this. These all seemed to be givens, like fact.

They are “given” only in the sense that that are assumed to be correct. I have not seen the idea talked about that we are entirely capable of reading what is on the page yet using that only as a guide, free to change anything, any time. If I am reading non-classical music I may not play exactly what is on the page even when sight-reading it. By the second or third time through I will most likely be changing things considerably. I may or may not notate any ideas I have while doing this.
Quote:

We already know that there is some controversy in the Pianist forum on whether it is actually a negative thing in public performances.

Correct.
Quote:

Another thing that I picked up is that memorizing was a slow and tedious, time-consuming affair. Again, I didn't pay too much attention since I was looking for other things.

For many it happens quite naturally and is relatively effortless. In fact, the slower the reading, the quicker the memorization, all things being equal. The reason is obvious. Is a slow reader is learning something that is expected to be played “at tempo” – and why would that not be true – then for obvious reasons such a player will have the music mostly memorized by the time he/she can play it full speed. That means that even if such a player is still staring at the page while playing at full speed, the music is doing very little good at all.

Memorization is also fairly effortless for people who have very fine visual retention. Photographic memory is rare, but some degree of visual memory of a score is common if not the norm.

I have none.

The better the visual retention, the easier it is to “read the music on the inside of the eyelids”. In other words, if you are the kind of person who can close your eyes and see the music, memorization is easy. But you may not HEAR anything you have memorized. That's a separate issue.
Quote:

I've never memorized huge works because I never got that far with music, but I did memorize things like sonatinas without wanting to. This was before I learned anything (at all) formally. What I was actually doing was perceiving broad patterns in music, which to me were nameless. You have your ABA patterns, your subjects with variations which appear in other keys, and other smaller patterns. To me these were both audible and visible in long swaths on a page. Like, if you look at a melody that repeats, the line of notes takes on the same up-and-down shape. The opposite would be to memorize one note at a time, one chord at a time, like a long shopping list. I suppose most people do something that is between the two extremes.

I did this myself for many years. The process may have been slightly different, but essentially it was muscle memory. I was not taught how to memorize efficiently. I used the “go magic fingers” method. It can be deadly in performance, for very obvious reasons. I now realize that even with no plan memorization was relatively easy when I was quite young and had to struggle hard to get the notes of difficult music. I was unable to come close to nailing the notes within the first two or three read-throughs, so the physical mastery of the music to the point of performance meant automatic memorization.

As my sight-reading ability increased, the exact opposite happened. The moment I reached the point at which I could nail something the first time, pure sightreading, it was natural for me to continue to use the music. So memorization became a separate and very annoying step. To this day when playing very difficult music I find the slow sections, easy to read and having no technical problems, very difficult and irritating to memorize, while any sections that demand that I do NOT look at the music are memorized automatically.
Quote:

And how about reading making playing less spontaneous. Is it because of the way we learn to read? Could that be changed? And could reading music that has become familiar end up giving us musical reminders through visual clues that might actual help make our playing more musical? I.e. must it be an either/or, or the idea that one is better than the other? I love playing "what if" and seeing where that leads.

I think we can use something that is totally improvised as a contrast to something that is carefully notated and is meant to be followed faithfully.

Obviously playing “Satin Doll”, just getting the changes, then going off on an endless series of improvs is in a totally different world from playing Beethoven's Opus 111, where the notes are all but sacred – and should be.

But there is a ton of room between those two extremes. For reasons I have already mentioned it is quite possible to be fully aware of what is written and yet set yourself free to not follow it, to any degree. smile
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#2045072 - 03/08/13 01:36 PM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: keystring]
Gary D. Offline
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Originally Posted By: Keystring
We had this section that zrtf90 called "The most awkward patch of accidentals" occurring in m. 12 & 20. Trying to memorize or even play that awkward patch of accidentals would be a pain and take forever.

Comments about this section. It was very difficult for me, as a child. It was a mass of accidentals. I had already memorize the sound, recording, but I could not arrange the data in an easy way.

Today simply hear it as B7 to E-----C7 to F7 to B7 to Eb.

So the "accidentals" are simply "notational accidents" that happen when a piece in three flats suddenly modulates up 1/2 step to four sharps when all the sharps have to be notated because there is no key change (the modulation is too temporary).

As a 6th grader playing this piece it was a mystery, so I had to play through it a lot and then just go with muscular memory.

Today I can effortless audiate it (and anything on that level that I have never heard nor played before), get the chord structure at a glance, then note instantly that the resulting downward bass line is inevitable because of the chords:

Bb---B/A----E/G#----C7/G----F----Bb7---- Eb.

In addition, as a person with nearly zero visual recall I can mentally write the music out in my head and see it, not as something memorized but as what would have to be written to represent what I hear in my head and fully understa.d
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#2045084 - 03/08/13 02:04 PM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: zrtf90]
Gary D. Offline
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Originally Posted By: zrtf90
When I hear Shakespeare being rehearsed I get a completely different auditory perception when the books are dropped than from when they're read - even after learning the lines.

I have been very much involved in playing for musical theatre, and the same thing is true. But I think this is false analogy because what people do with their bodies totally changes when they are “off book”. It's a very different matter being entirely free to move your body, including both arms, then look at each other in scenes. The whole chemistry changes when the scripts are put away.

A better analogy might be to compare what readers do in spoken books, or what actors do when the speak the lines of characters in animations. I remember seeing Robin Williams years ago reading his parts for animations. He used a script. But he was also quite obviously improvising. There we are not concerned with what he looked like. Only the sound of his voice.

I think that comes much closer to what we do at the piano.
Quote:

If we didn't memorise and learn we would not have progressed as a species. Many of us find memorising a crucial part of the learning process. I do. Even when playing familiar music from the score I play differently.

I don't. I just feel the need to state that fact. Let me amend that: I do if I am playing parts/passages that impair my ability to move freely and effortlessly while looking at a score. But if I am playing any part of a score that I could play with my eyes shut, without any extra physical challenges, I feel no difference. I am still free to change anything according to my mood at the moment.
Quote:

I'm sure Richter does fine when following a score - I don't. Playing from the score hampers more than it helps me. Rock songs I play by ear and wouldn't countenance using a score.

What about a lead-sheet?
Quote:

I can also audiate at sight far better than I can play at sight.

This is also true for me for the simple reason that audiation does not take into consideration fingering or technical problems.
Quote:

I would not consider learning a new piece at the keyboard without first memorising the sound mentally but Jeff is new to reading and since he was the main participant during the Chopin Nocturne discussion and we were analysing it with a view to performance I considered all the things I felt might hinder playing from the score.

I have no students who can scan music and memorize the sound without playing it. I agree that being able to do so is a worthy accomplishment. However, unlike you I am likely to dive in without first doing more than a very brief scan. I have had to do this countless time when accompanying or when having had scores thrown at me at the last minute with little or zero time to think before playing.

I also have students bring me music. I don't have time to think it through – lesson constraints. So I simply start playing, make note of problems as I push through. Anyone who reads ahead, absolutely necessary for good sight-reading, should be able to “audiate ahead”, much as when we do a cold reading of a page of a book we are able to read ahead and hear the worlds in our heads. Of course if we read aloud it goes much better with practice.
Quote:

I listed other things not just accidentals. I don't think they're a pain and take forever I just think they might have slowed down the reading if he didn't have a quick look beforehand, the same way that I looked at notes with more than three ledger lines or places where he might have to look down to make accurate leaps.

I think I agree with that. But rather than have a student simply take a quick look, I would have a student analyze the changes and notate them. This greatly accelerates learning and ultimately reading to, since a great part of reading is learning to see patterns and not to have to read every note – any more than you or anyone else is reading every letter of every word I am writing.
Quote:

I know that not everybody consciously and actively memorises but going over aides-memoires can still help clarify the music in the head and allow us to hear features that might otherwise have been missed.

If I understand you correctly, you are saying that reading all the notes, in order, on auto-pilot, over and over, is a very efficient way of learning. Period. If that is so, I would agree with you. Or even doing the same thing in sections. And no, it is not black and white. Not only are their infinite shades of gray here – or grey – it may be more like dealing with an infinite of colors and so on.

Just because we share similarities in the way we learn, it is easy to assume that we learn in all ways in the same manner, and that assumption is deadly both for teachers (leading to very inefficent teaching) and for students (very misguiding ways of approaching learning).
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#2045122 - 03/08/13 03:17 PM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: Gary D.]
keystring Offline
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deleted


Edited by keystring (03/08/13 05:40 PM)

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#2045194 - 03/08/13 05:25 PM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: zrtf90]
zrtf90 Offline
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FYI, Jeff, my baby pictures and baby playing are now on RST.
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#2045200 - 03/08/13 05:40 PM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: zrtf90]
Greener Offline

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Sweet, on my way ...
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