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#2061266 - 04/08/13 12:23 PM Faithful execution of the score
Gomtorus Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/23/12
Posts: 77
Josef Hofmann thought one should execute the composer's instructions meticulously. He warned against those pianists who try so hard to play everything with so much feeling. After all, the great masters knew how to compose. It is not up to the pianist to make something of their music. Hofmann also advised against any mannerisms which deflect from the auditor's listening experience, for example exaggerated movements of the body.

At the other extreme was Glenn Gould, who often disregarded the composer's instructions completely, and who would hum along to the music, sometimes achieving great musicality.

Where do you stand on this spectrum?

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#2061271 - 04/08/13 12:51 PM Re: Faithful execution of the score [Re: Gomtorus]
Andy Platt Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2333
Loc: Virginia, USA
I take everyone who claims you have to be more faithful to the score with a pinch of salt. Sure, there are changes that can be made which are just wild (or much worse, unmusical!). But I usually get the feeling they mean "their idea of what is faithful" than an absolute.

And of course period performance practice can add other ridiculous ideas.

Hmm, I suppose to can tell where I lie on the continuum. I do want to respect composer's wishes but we have to understand that a written score cannot convey everything and, even if it could, the practice of what was represented has changed over time.
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#2061276 - 04/08/13 01:09 PM Re: Faithful execution of the score [Re: Gomtorus]
Stephen300o Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/22/12
Posts: 62
I figure you play it how you think it sounds nicest.

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#2061307 - 04/08/13 02:35 PM Re: Faithful execution of the score [Re: Gomtorus]
peterws Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/21/12
Posts: 3113
Loc: Northern England.
I`ll play a piece o` music how I darned well want. It might involve pulling the score about somewhat just so`s I can play it . . . .who knows what the composer had in mind? Who really cares? It`s too much fun. I aint gonna stop now!
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#2061308 - 04/08/13 02:37 PM Re: Faithful execution of the score [Re: Gomtorus]
Sam S Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/12/07
Posts: 1336
Loc: Georgia, USA
Assuming that the score is correct and complete, I try to be reasonably faithful to it.

But the more pieces I explore, the more I realize that sometimes composers or publishers made mistakes, or left out much that would be useful, or just assumed that everyone would know what they intended.

Be careful that what you are meticulously trying to recreate is not what some editor added long after the composer was dead...

Sam
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#2061327 - 04/08/13 03:29 PM Re: Faithful execution of the score [Re: Gomtorus]
rada Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/07/06
Posts: 1124
Loc: pagosa springs,co
I like being my own judge and jury.

rada

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#2061336 - 04/08/13 03:43 PM Re: Faithful execution of the score [Re: Gomtorus]
Bobpickle Offline

Gold Supporter until July 10  2014


Registered: 05/24/12
Posts: 1368
Loc: Cameron Park, California
interesting research on the topic of Debussy's own thoughts on how to interpret his own works: http://djupdal.org/karstein/debussy/method/m02.shtml

the topic is an interesting discussion, but one that's rarely agreed upon

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#2061378 - 04/08/13 05:01 PM Re: Faithful execution of the score [Re: Gomtorus]
Greener Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/12
Posts: 1059
Loc: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Originally Posted By: Gomtorus

Where do you stand on this spectrum?


The composers job is done. Your job has just begun.

I would try to keep in mind, and respect what the composer may have intended. But, it is your performance and you need to make it your own.

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#2061390 - 04/08/13 05:15 PM Re: Faithful execution of the score [Re: Gomtorus]
Polyphonist Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 6319
Loc: New York City
I can't stand Glenn Gould's renditions of anything other than Bach. For example, his Beethoven Emperor Concerto and his Chopin's 3rd Sonata are so ridiculously distorted that it is a cross between ludicrous and sad (sad because I feel bad for Beethoven and Chopin, turning in their graves). grin
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#2061494 - 04/08/13 09:01 PM Re: Faithful execution of the score [Re: Gomtorus]
JohnSprung Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/11
Posts: 1029
Loc: Reseda, California
The trouble with being faithful to the score is that musical notation has only a rather crude way of dealing with time -- in halves, quarters, eighths, etc -- and it's even cruder for dynamics.

Try listening to the playback from a notation program, MuseScore is the one I use. It's a down to the millisecond faithful reproduction of the score. What you won't like about it is primarily due to the inadequacy of the notation system.

The inherent difference between what's on the paper and what it's supposed to sound like kinda introduces some wiggle room to go farther. Of course, as a cocktail bar hack, I don't really worry about that too much.... ;-)
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#2061503 - 04/08/13 09:16 PM Re: Faithful execution of the score [Re: rada]
malkin Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/09
Posts: 2199
Loc: *sigh* Salt Lake City
Originally Posted By: rada
I like being my own judge and jury.
rada


But not executioner?
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#2061646 - 04/09/13 01:33 AM Re: Faithful execution of the score [Re: Gomtorus]
Teodor Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/16/09
Posts: 939
Loc: Bulgaria
Actually I feel and not only me fortunately, that as performers we are also co-composers. Yes we are to show the ideas of the composer and be faithful to them but we also have to bring the piece to life. It's impossible to bring a piece to life by mechanically executing all the components and never switching anything up in terms of dynamics, slight tempo changes where necessary and so on.

The composers knew how to compose? True but did they know how to write it down on paper? How to perfectly describe what they meant? No, music notation is not that precise. It captures precise note values, vague ideas of dynamics and no idea of the actual air of the piece until you discover that through studying the piece. But everybody will discover slightly different things about the pieces. Not everything is set in stone. Everyone has different life experiences, those will also affect how we play. A person who is just beginning his life, for example, might not find any profound meaning in Beethoven's sonata, whereas someone at 40 with lots to look back to might be able to perform those sonatas for us in a much more touching and meaningful way because he will showcase the musical ideas through the lens of his own experience both musically and in life.

As a performer you are a conduit for the composer's work. My piano teacher once said something very nice. "Pieces are like ghosts that are seeking to reincarnate themselves through the hands of the performer into a living thing. Every time someone picks a piece of music it falls into different conditions and sometimes those conditions are not good enough for it to evolve to something meaningful and other times they are perfect just so and it comes to life and has the ability to move people's hearts and provoke emotions."



Edited by Teodor (04/09/13 01:36 AM)
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#2061653 - 04/09/13 02:02 AM Re: Faithful execution of the score [Re: Gomtorus]
4evrBeginR Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/27/09
Posts: 1602
Loc: California
I do believe that. Granted, I'm a beginner, so what do I know? The edition is very important. A lot of things in the score may not come from the composer but from the editor. I had a Bach piece where my teacher had me white-out all the slurs and played it using a completely different articulation. If the edition is very faithful to the composer, then I think you should be. Sure you could always play something 6/8 time when it's written in 3/4 time, but why? Why play crescendo when it is marked dim? Actually, I did that once because it was overruled by my teacher! Hey what do I know. I just do what I'm told. I'll figure it out someday.
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#2061717 - 04/09/13 06:06 AM Re: Faithful execution of the score [Re: Gomtorus]
Kristina1 Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 02/24/13
Posts: 92
Loc: UK
I have been reading in a few books
(mainly books from the last century and the century before)
that many composers had people transcribing (in a haste)
the original compositions of this composer for the publisher
and that in many of these transcriptions
and ultimately in the following publications of the score
some errors were being printed from then on.

The reason why I researched about this matter
is because there are quite a few harmonious composers
who have in their wonderful harmonious piano scores a sudden disharmony of tones,
where the note on the right hand does not harmonize with the tone of the left hand
and the outcome sounds awful, almost as if the pianist "made a mistake".

In some books some of these mistakes are pointed out as either printing mistakes
or "hasty transcription mistakes" and these disharmonies
have often nothing to do with the composer's original composition.

That is perhaps the reason why so many scholars go to the original source,
usually the archive where the originals of the composer are being stored.

But how many pianists can affort to do that ?

For many pianists it is impossible to execute the composer's instructions meticulously
because the source of the composition is often only available to them
as a published transcription with some printing mistakes.

Another problem is that we don't really know for sure
the precise speed of many of the Baroque pieces?
After all, the composers at that time had a completely different life
and everything went at a complete different speed altogether...

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#2061756 - 04/09/13 08:33 AM Re: Faithful execution of the score [Re: Gomtorus]
landorrano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2443
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: Gomtorus
It is not up to the pianist to make something of their music.


Originally Posted By: Gomtorus

At the other extreme was Glenn Gould


I have one question: in mentioning "pianists" are you talking about what the Glenn Goulds or Josef Hoffmanns should or shouldn't do?

Or are you talking about adult beginners?

If the question concerns adult beginners, my opinion is that they should try their best to glean something of what Bach or Mendelssohn or Schumann are trying to say to them. No greater enrichment and satisfaction is to be had.

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#2061759 - 04/09/13 08:42 AM Re: Faithful execution of the score [Re: Greener]
Marco M Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/28/12
Posts: 444
Loc: Europe
Originally Posted By: Greener
Originally Posted By: Gomtorus

Where do you stand on this spectrum?


The composers job is done. Your job has just begun.

I would try to keep in mind, and respect what the composer may have intended. But, it is your performance and you need to make it your own.


I completely agree.
I am finally the one who makes=plays music. The score, which means the composer´s work, is my great guide to do so, it inspires me to stick to it or inspires me to vary it, or it inspires me to make something new.

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#2062249 - 04/10/13 02:31 AM Re: Faithful execution of the score [Re: Kristina1]
Bobpickle Offline

Gold Supporter until July 10  2014


Registered: 05/24/12
Posts: 1368
Loc: Cameron Park, California
Originally Posted By: Kristina1
The reason why I researched about this matter
is because there are quite a few harmonious composers
who have in their wonderful harmonious piano scores a sudden disharmony of tones,
where the note on the right hand does not harmonize with the tone of the left hand
and the outcome sounds awful, almost as if the pianist "made a mistake".

In some books some of these mistakes are pointed out as either printing mistakes
or "hasty transcription mistakes" and these disharmonies
have often nothing to do with the composer's original composition.


This isn't that common. More likely in most of these cases, such tones are meant to provide tension which eventually is released through more consonant sounds/harmonies. If it sounds like a mistake, more often than not, we simply just can't yet understand the theory or comprehend the composer's intent.

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#2062762 - 04/11/13 05:47 AM Re: Faithful execution of the score [Re: Bobpickle]
Kristina1 Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 02/24/13
Posts: 92
Loc: UK
Originally Posted By: Bobpickle
Originally Posted By: Kristina1
The reason why I researched about this matter
is because there are quite a few harmonious composers
who have in their wonderful harmonious piano scores a sudden disharmony of tones,
where the note on the right hand does not harmonize with the tone of the left hand
and the outcome sounds awful, almost as if the pianist "made a mistake".

In some books some of these mistakes are pointed out as either printing mistakes
or "hasty transcription mistakes" and these disharmonies
have often nothing to do with the composer's original composition.


This isn't that common. More likely in most of these cases, such tones are meant to provide tension which eventually is released through more consonant sounds/harmonies. If it sounds like a mistake, more often than not, we simply just can't yet understand the theory or comprehend the composer's intent.


Thank you Bob, for your kind explanation.

That leaves us with the confusion as to why
music-scholars of by-gone times pointed out,
that disharmonies in certain scores are due to
"hasty transcription mistakes" before going to print
and/or printing mistakes ?

Thanks from Kristina.


Edited by Kristina1 (04/11/13 05:54 AM)

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