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#452859 - 10/21/08 10:38 PM Bad timing!
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
Lots of people have issues with faulty terminology. Song has gotten lots of attention, and baby grand a fair amount, too.

I was very surprised to learn in this current thread that voicing doesn't officially have the meaning it's commonly understood to have by classical pianists (in addition to the ones used by piano technicians and jazz pianists)!

What about "timing" in the context of classical music?

When I hear a pianist refer to timing, I imagine a concerto performance where the soloist's entry coincides with the end of a tutti or a jazz combo in which the pianist must be in step with the other players. Indeed, the "official" meanings relate to synchronization and "the regulation of occurrence, pace, or coordination to achieve a desired effect (as in music, theater, athletics, mechanics)."

Just as with voicing, I couldn't find a definition for timing that affirms the sense in which it's popularly used, viz. the arithmetical counting of beats that comprise rhythm. I wonder how timing became accepted as shorthand for counting time—and if anyone finds this usage comparably vexing to "song," etc.


"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#452860 - 10/21/08 10:49 PM Re: Bad timing!
PianistOne111 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/19/06
Posts: 292
Loc: Utah
That's what timing means? I use it in a more general sense: when things happen relative to each other. I'm talking about timing (and voicing) when I say that some people play the melody earlier than the other voices.
I'm talking about timing when I say that a small pause before a sf might make it sound a bit more surprising.
I'm talking about timing when I say that in an orchestra, basses might start their notes earlier than violins because bass bodies take longer to get moving.

#452861 - 10/21/08 11:23 PM Re: Bad timing!
Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
Hey Steven, your mailbox is full!!!

I don't find "timing" all that vexing myself. But I could see how some might think that way.
Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.

#452862 - 10/22/08 01:44 AM Re: Bad timing!
tomasino Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/24/05
Posts: 2039
Loc: Minneapolis, Minnesota
No, it's always jarring for me when someone calls a "piece" a "song," but neither "timing" nor "voicing" bother me.

"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do so with all thy might." Ecclesiastes 9:10

#452863 - 10/22/08 09:27 PM Re: Bad timing!
1RC Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/06
Posts: 502
Loc: Alberta
I found a definition for voicing, in our common context, easily enough at dictionary.com:

17. the finer regulation, as of intensity and color, in tuning, esp. of a piano or organ.

19. Music. a. to regulate the tone of, as the pipes of an organ.

Works for me. Then we might get into a snare of what tone means, but I think the easy answer for piano is that the one thing we know we can control is the volume of the notes. So, if we speak of voicing as regulating the tone, I think it's perfectly reasonable to take that to mean the relative volume of simultanious notes (so far as piano is concerned). Do we need to make it any more difficult?


3. the selecting of the best time or speed for doing something in order to achieve the desired or maximum result: I went to ask for a raise, but my timing was bad, since the boss had indigestion.

This also works for me.

How about when people call baroque classical? Or when somebody calls the ceiling a roof?

Sometimes the word is just used wrong, but it's easy to see what the person means. Other times, I find it to be annoying semantic arguement.

#452864 - 10/22/08 09:35 PM Re: Bad timing!
BruceD Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 18286
Loc: Victoria, BC
Originally posted by 1RC:
I found a definition for voicing, in our common context, easily enough at dictionary.com:

17. the finer regulation, as of intensity and color, in tuning, esp. of a piano or organ.

19. Music. a. to regulate the tone of, as the pipes of an organ.

[...] [/b]
This is precisely what many of us are not[/b] talking about when we talk about voicing in the performance of piano literature. In both instances you quote, this is regulation to an instrument done by a technician in preparing and servicing the instrument, and it has nothing to do with the "manner" in which a performer sounds the individual notes of a chord in comparison with each other.

- - - - -
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#452865 - 10/22/08 09:39 PM Re: Bad timing!
BruceD Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 18286
Loc: Victoria, BC
I have heard many people say that "timing is off" or "the timing is wrong" or some similar expression using the word "timing" when a performer's sense of rhythm is imprecise, when note values are not precisely observed, or when the rhythm is not regular when it should be.

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Estonia 190

#452866 - 10/23/08 09:09 AM Re: Bad timing!
Guendola Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/06/08
Posts: 39
If "timing" is used in German about music, it means exactly what BruceD said, but used by pop- and jazz musicians only. There is no equivalent expression for classical music. Well, there is "Agogik" but that is rather using tempo changes for expression (not meaning "Rubato", Agogik is more general).

I guess a lot of confusion comes form international internet boards. People often learn musical expressions in their native language, especially for classical music. For pop and jazz, English expressions are much more common - at least in Germany - and so people use those instead and other readers simply adopt them.


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