Welcome to the Piano World Piano Forums
Over 2 million posts about pianos, digital pianos, and all types of keyboard instruments
Join the World's Largest Community of Piano Lovers (it's free)
It's Fun to Play the Piano ... Please Pass It On!

Gifts and supplies for the musician
SEARCH
the Forums & Piano World

This custom search works much better than the built in one and allows searching older posts.
Ad (Piano Sing)
How to Make Your Piano Sing
(ad) Pearl River
Pearl River Pianos
(ad 125) Sweetwater - Digital Keyboards & Other Gear
Digital Pianos at Sweetwater
(ad) Pianoteq
(ad) P B Guide
Acoustic & Digital Piano Guide
Who's Online
139 registered (ajames, anamnesis, ando, accordeur, 39 invisible), 1693 Guests and 17 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Quick Links to Useful Piano & Music Resources
Our Classified Ads
Find Piano Professionals-

*Piano Dealers - Piano Stores
*Piano Tuners
*Piano Teachers
*Piano Movers
*Piano Restorations
*Piano Manufacturers
*Organs

Quick Links:
*Advertise On Piano World
*Free Piano Newsletter
*Online Piano Recitals
*Piano Recitals Index
*Piano & Music Accessories
*Music School Listings
* Buying a Piano
*Buying A Acoustic Piano
*Buying a Digital Piano
*Pianos for Sale
*Sell Your Piano
*How Old is My Piano?
*Piano Books
*Piano Art, Pictures, & Posters
*Directory/Site Map
*Contest
*Links
*Virtual Piano
*Music Word Search
*Piano Screen Saver
*Piano Videos
*Virtual Piano Chords
(ad) Estonia Piano
Estonia Pianos
Topic Options
#2106780 - 06/23/13 02:10 PM Why Can't People Read Debussy's Tempo Markings?
Andy Platt Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2419
Loc: Virginia, USA
Or, perhaps less seriously, why do people have to play Debussy much faster than I can?

I'm working on my second Debussy piece. The first one, Arabesque #1 is written "Andantino con moto" which a literal translation would be moderately fast, with motion. Apparently to most folks this reads Presto.

The second piece I'm learning, Dr Graddus ad Parnassum, is labeled "Animato ma no troppo". Animated, but not too much. Apparently this reads Molto Presto to most folks,

I'm just trying to find some gentler versions that might help me along with my learning but not much luck. I do have a version of the first arabesque which I greatly admire (Noriko Ogawa); a review of that complained it was far too slow. Sigh ..

... why can't people read Debussy's markings? wink
_________________________
  • Liszt - Liebestršume No. 3, S541
  • Schumann - Ende vom Lied, Opus 12.8
  • Haydn - Sonata in Gm, Hob. XVI/44

Kawai K3

Top
(ads P/S)

Sauter Pianos

#2106833 - 06/23/13 03:59 PM Re: Why Can't People Read Debussy's Tempo Markings? [Re: Andy Platt]
jdw Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/04/11
Posts: 1016
Loc: Philadelphia, PA
It's not just Debussy! I've seen this tendency in lots of music played by pros who seem to feel they have to play faster than the markings. Or, if there's no tempo marking, as fast as possible!
_________________________
1989 Baldwin R
Currently working on:
Grieg, Papillon
Mozart, K 330
Brahms, Op. 118 no. 2

Top
#2106844 - 06/23/13 04:28 PM Re: Why Can't People Read Debussy's Tempo Markings? [Re: Andy Platt]
TwoSnowflakes Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/15/12
Posts: 1385
It always helps to know the underlying language. At least my daughter got a leg up, there. I remember her violin teacher once pointing out "andante" and asking her if she knew what it meant, and she said, "you mean like 'to walk'?" Why, yes!

Her answers for others:

Allegro: Cheerfully?
Presto: You mean like to hurry up?
Grave: Very seriously!
Lento: slowly!

Granted, she doesn't speak Italian, but speaks Peninsular Spanish fluently, which has about an 80% overlap with Italian. She takes French, so things like "non troppo" are often figured out with some thinking.

But plenty of things, like "marcato", "dolce", "pesante", "tranquillo" and "cantabile" are just innately clear to her.

Anyway, I learned music before I learned either of Spanish or French, so I didn't understand them quite so organically. It would be nice if teachers took the time not just to define some of the musical markings within the context of music, but as a word that's part of a language. It might help people better understand what the composer is attempting to achieve.
_________________________
Currently:
Bach, French Suites, No. 3 BWV 814
Brahms, Op. 118 No. 2 Intermezzo A major
Chopin, Mazurka Op. 67 No.4
With the pedal I love to meddle; When Paderewski comes this way... -Irving Berlin

Top
#2106903 - 06/23/13 07:14 PM Re: Why Can't People Read Debussy's Tempo Markings? [Re: Andy Platt]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5350
Loc: Philadelphia
Apparently, they don't think it's "too much". wink
_________________________
Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.

Top
#2107022 - 06/24/13 01:59 AM Re: Why Can't People Read Debussy's Tempo Markings? [Re: Andy Platt]
Bobpickle Offline

Gold Supporter until July 10  2014


Registered: 05/24/12
Posts: 1383
Loc: Cameron Park, California
Originally Posted By: Andy Platt
I do have a version of the first arabesque which I greatly admire (Noriko Ogawa); a review of that complained it was far too slow. Sigh ..

... why can't people read Debussy's markings? wink


Everyone's a critic. After you've learned to play the music as written, interpret it how your ear feels it best sounds.


As far as my favorite interpretation of Gradus ad Parnassum (and/or one you might like)

Top
#2107038 - 06/24/13 02:48 AM Re: Why Can't People Read Debussy's Tempo Markings? [Re: Andy Platt]
wouter79 Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/10
Posts: 3605
>... why can't people read Debussy's markings? wink

I can speak only for myself.

I suspect that Debussy played fast.

I played Fille aux cheveux de lin and it says "très calme" AND quarternote=66. at 66, I never could get this piece sound 'tres calme'.

So what do you do in that case? Stick with 66 and try to stay calme? Or stick with the calme and try to get up to 66 only where it can?
_________________________

Top
#2107046 - 06/24/13 03:59 AM Re: Why Can't People Read Debussy's Tempo Markings? [Re: Andy Platt]
justpin Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 504
Loc: Holmes Chapel
Heh ragtime is most frequently ignored!

If you listen to Maple leaf rag how Scott Joplin played it, it is slow as he intended but everybody seems to play it as fast as they can!

Strangely even Casio seem to think it is faster than it is as Maple leaf rag on my Casio is a built in song yet it plays MUCH faster than the original.

Top
#2107092 - 06/24/13 07:27 AM Re: Why Can't People Read Debussy's Tempo Markings? [Re: wouter79]
Andy Platt Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2419
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: wouter79
>... why can't people read Debussy's markings? wink

I can speak only for myself.

I suspect that Debussy played fast.


Yes, I have read that too; but I have also read how his piano roll recordings are "sped up" and not the tempo he played at.

Interesting article about his piano rolls:

Quote:
‚ÄúDoctor Gradus ad Parnassum‚ÄĚ is a mad rush, perhaps intended as a comic portrayal of young pupils feverishly engaged in finger exercises. I don‚Äôt think the piece is a mad rush but rather a wistful, deftly accented and, above all, slightly slower bit of nostalgia. And if I can play it this way without contravening the written score, who says I can‚Äôt love the piece and declare its composer wrong?


http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/24/arts/music/24debu.html?_r=0
_________________________
  • Liszt - Liebestršume No. 3, S541
  • Schumann - Ende vom Lied, Opus 12.8
  • Haydn - Sonata in Gm, Hob. XVI/44

Kawai K3

Top
#2107174 - 06/24/13 12:19 PM Re: Why Can't People Read Debussy's Tempo Markings? [Re: justpin]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5350
Loc: Philadelphia
Originally Posted By: justpin
Heh ragtime is most frequently ignored!

If you listen to Maple leaf rag how Scott Joplin played it, it is slow as he intended but everybody seems to play it as fast as they can!

Strangely even Casio seem to think it is faster than it is as Maple leaf rag on my Casio is a built in song yet it plays MUCH faster than the original.

Same for Mozart -- even in Mozart's day, he complained that people played his works too fast.
_________________________
Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.

Top
#2107207 - 06/24/13 01:24 PM Re: Why Can't People Read Debussy's Tempo Markings? [Re: Derulux]
SwissMS Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/09/11
Posts: 820
Loc: Switzerland
Virtuosity seems to be equated to speed anymore. Mozart, Beethoven, Scarlatti, everything seems to be played presto.

I have watched youtube videos of Debussy's Arabesque #1 that range from under three minutes to six minutes. To my ear, the fast ones lose something. They just don't have the ethereal feeling that my ear expects of this piece. I prefer it about five minutes. Of course, that is just my opinion smirk

However, it is not just Debussy. My first piano teacher, when I returned to piano as an adult, always crossed out the metronome settings in sheet music, before I ever started a piece. He said that mechanical metronomes in the past were notoriously inaccurate, and even if the composer or editor had indicated a number, that number only worked on HIS particular metronome.
_________________________



European Piano Party July 4, 2015 in Switzerland!

Top
#2107246 - 06/24/13 02:30 PM Re: Why Can't People Read Debussy's Tempo Markings? [Re: Andy Platt]
wouter79 Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/10
Posts: 3605
I checked several original handwritings of Debussy.

Some are on IMSLP.org

Some more on http://www.omifacsimiles.com


They all have some written out tempo suggestion like 'andantino molto'.
None of them has a metronome number.

So I guess it's all up to the player to pick the speed.
_________________________

Top
#2107337 - 06/24/13 05:08 PM Re: Why Can't People Read Debussy's Tempo Markings? [Re: Andy Platt]
rnaple Offline

Silver Supporter until April 24 2014


Registered: 12/23/10
Posts: 2107
Loc: Rocky Mountains
OH Andy....
You know that men can't read directions until they've completely goofed things up. Only then, it's time to start reading.
_________________________
Ron
Your brain is a sponge. Keep it wet. Mary Gae George
The focus of your personal practice is discipline. Not numbers. Scott Sonnon

Top
#2107375 - 06/24/13 06:14 PM Re: Why Can't People Read Debussy's Tempo Markings? [Re: rnaple]
Andy Platt Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2419
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: rnaple
OH Andy....
You know that men can't read directions until they've completely goofed things up. Only then, it's time to start reading.


Hmm, that must be why I always find a few notes left over.
_________________________
  • Liszt - Liebestršume No. 3, S541
  • Schumann - Ende vom Lied, Opus 12.8
  • Haydn - Sonata in Gm, Hob. XVI/44

Kawai K3

Top
#2107385 - 06/24/13 06:32 PM Re: Why Can't People Read Debussy's Tempo Markings? [Re: Andy Platt]
TwoSnowflakes Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/15/12
Posts: 1385
Originally Posted By: Andy Platt
Originally Posted By: rnaple
OH Andy....
You know that men can't read directions until they've completely goofed things up. Only then, it's time to start reading.


Hmm, that must be why I always find a few notes left over.


Just put them in the box where you put those mysterious extra screws from IKEA. One day, you'll have a sonata! Or a bookshelf. One of the two.
_________________________
Currently:
Bach, French Suites, No. 3 BWV 814
Brahms, Op. 118 No. 2 Intermezzo A major
Chopin, Mazurka Op. 67 No.4
With the pedal I love to meddle; When Paderewski comes this way... -Irving Berlin

Top
#2107397 - 06/24/13 06:54 PM Re: Why Can't People Read Debussy's Tempo Markings? [Re: Andy Platt]
packa Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/05/05
Posts: 1399
Loc: Dallas, TX
RE: Debussy's Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum

As others have pointed out, we have a Welte-Mignon roll of Debussy playing this piece and the most recent recreation of that performance by Kenneth Caswell clocks in at 1:51 (from Claude Debussy: The composer as pianist [CD]. Pierian 0001). I have seen little evidence that there is much controversy about the tempos captured by Welte-Mignon rolls. In the booklet for the Debussy recordings, Caswell remarks on the accuracy of the Welte-Mignon process and indicates that there are a few examples of the same artist performing the same work in a Welte-Mignon roll and for an acoustic 78 RPM recording. Although these comparisons do not include Debussy's performances, they do allow a more general evaluation of the accuracy of the Welte-Mignon process. König (2007) stated his belief that the pitch, note-length, tempo, pedaling, and agogics in the Welte-Mignon rolls correspond closely to the original performances. His major reservation concerns the accuracy of the performance dynamics, which he believes display much poorer fidelity.

I looked today at just a few of the recordings of this work from the Naxos Music Library (available through my University Library). This is far from a comprehensive survey but the timings ranged from 2:10 (Thiollier, 1995; Dahlkvist, 2012) to 2:37 (Michelangeli, 1993) with the typical timing close to 2:30. If you can believe the Welte-Mignon recreation, I guess everybody but Debussy misread his tempo by playing it too slowly?


König, W. (2007). The Welte-Mignon reproducing piano and its place in the history of music. The Pianola Journal, 18, 50-63.
_________________________
Paul Buchanan
Estonia L168 #1718

Top
#2107434 - 06/24/13 08:12 PM Re: Why Can't People Read Debussy's Tempo Markings? [Re: Bobpickle]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12141
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: Bobpickle
Originally Posted By: Andy Platt
I do have a version of the first arabesque which I greatly admire (Noriko Ogawa); a review of that complained it was far too slow. Sigh ..

... why can't people read Debussy's markings? wink


Everyone's a critic. After you've learned to play the music as written, interpret it how your ear feels it best sounds.


As far as my favorite interpretation of Gradus ad Parnassum (and/or one you might like)
Who is this?
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

Top
#2107519 - 06/24/13 11:14 PM Re: Why Can't People Read Debussy's Tempo Markings? [Re: Morodiene]
Bobpickle Offline

Gold Supporter until July 10  2014


Registered: 05/24/12
Posts: 1383
Loc: Cameron Park, California
Stephen Malinowski, or youtube user smalin.

Top
#2107657 - 06/25/13 06:59 AM Re: Why Can't People Read Debussy's Tempo Markings? [Re: packa]
Andy Platt Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2419
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: packa
I looked today at just a few of the recordings of this work from the Naxos Music Library (available through my University Library). This is far from a comprehensive survey but the timings ranged from 2:10 (Thiollier, 1995; Dahlkvist, 2012) to 2:37 (Michelangeli, 1993) with the typical timing close to 2:30. If you can believe the Welte-Mignon recreation, I guess everybody but Debussy misread his tempo by playing it too slowly?


No, Debussy misread his own markings and everyone else followed wink

He's like those French ski instructors I used to have. "Oh, it is early in the morning so we will take it easy ..." and he/she shoots off down the mountain like a rocket!

Sigh, nothing for it but to get it under my fingers enough so it flows at tempo!
_________________________
  • Liszt - Liebestršume No. 3, S541
  • Schumann - Ende vom Lied, Opus 12.8
  • Haydn - Sonata in Gm, Hob. XVI/44

Kawai K3

Top

Moderator:  BB Player, casinitaly 
What's Hot!!

Trade Regrets:
Barry "Bear" Arnaut

(ad) Yamaha CP Music Rest Promo
Yamaha CP Music Rest Promo
Ad (Seiler/Knabe)
Knabe Pianos
(ad) HAILUN Pianos
Hailun Pianos - Click for More
(125ad) Dampp Chaser
Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver
(ad) Lindeblad Piano
Lindeblad Piano Restoration
(ad) Piano Music Sale - Dover Publications
Piano Music Sale
Sheet Music Plus (125)
Sheet Music Plus Featured Sale
New Topics - Multiple Forums
New Grotrian 6'3" v. Steinway B
by chasingrainbows
11/26/14 11:17 AM
HAPPY THANKSGIVING
by musdan
11/26/14 10:07 AM
Book about Alice Herz-Sommer, pianist and holocaust survivor
by neuralfirings
11/26/14 09:20 AM
What does a dealer have to reveal?
by chasingrainbows
11/26/14 09:09 AM
Mark your calendars!
by Rich Galassini
11/26/14 07:30 AM
Forum Stats
77053 Members
42 Forums
159364 Topics
2341014 Posts

Max Online: 15252 @ 03/21/10 11:39 PM
Gift Ideas for Music Lovers!
Find the Perfect Gift for the Music Lovers on your List!
Visit our online store today.

Visit our online store for gifts for music lovers

 
Help keep the forums up and running with a donation, any amount is appreciated!
Or by becoming a Subscribing member! Thank-you.
Donate   Subscribe
 
Our Piano Related Classified Ads
|
Dealers | Tuners | Lessons | Movers | Restorations | Pianos For Sale | Sell Your Piano |

Advertise on Piano World
| Subscribe | Piano World | PianoSupplies.com | Advertise on Piano World | Donate | Link to Us | Classifieds |
| |Contact | Privacy | Legal | About Us | Site Map | Free Newsletter | Press Room |


copyright 1997 - 2014 Piano World ® all rights reserved
No part of this site may be reproduced without prior written permission