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#476875 - 10/24/05 12:48 PM Piano Portamento?
pianojerome Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/05
Posts: 9868
(Pardon me for bringing this up again.)


Well, Neuhaus refers to a 'portamento' in his book, The Art of Piano Playing, as a slightly detached touch, neither overly legato nor stacatto (picture stacatto notes under a slur).


I get the sense that there is such thing as voice/string/trombone 'portamento' (perfectly legato) and there is something similar but different called piano 'portamento' (legato, but slightly detached).


Yes?
_________________________
Sam

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#476876 - 10/24/05 01:18 PM Re: Piano Portamento?
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
I just noticed in the John Thompson 3rd Grade
Bk., p. 16, there is a footnote about "portamento."
This is in reference to the Schubert Serenade
Op. 134 (this is a simplfied arangement in
the Thompson bk. so I don't know if it also
applies to the original work). In the opening
bars of this there are groups of 5 eighth notes
with staccato marks on all and connected with
a slur sign. And there's a footnote that says
that in piano music, groups of 8th notes with
staccatos and a slur under all of them indicates
"portamento," which means that these notes
are to played in a "long but detached" manner.
If you're familiar with this Schubert piece,
you'll immediately see what he means by this.
In those famous opening bars you hit a long
note in the bass, a dotted half (this is
in 3/4 time), and you hold it while lightly
playing those five 8th notes in the treble, in
a sort of legato-ish staccato manner. This
is hard to explain in words, but playing
those opening bars will make the definition
clear.

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#476877 - 10/24/05 01:31 PM Re: Piano Portamento?
Varcon Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/15/04
Posts: 1931
Loc: Mount Vernon, Georgia 30445
Technically no. The term is apparently mis-used to indicate what pianists know as a slightly detached, semi-staccato. Somewhere along the line the term 'portamento' came to mean that semi-staccato/detached style of playing tho it is applied to voice and string instruments as a type of legato. Look it up in a good music dictionary and you'll see that it comes from the Latin 'portare' meaning 'to carry.' It is causing some consternation between those who think the term is correctly used and those who do not. You'll have to decide which position you wish to take.

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#476878 - 10/24/05 01:41 PM Re: Piano Portamento?
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
I looked up the sheetmusicarchive edition of
the serenade and it's considerably different
from Thompson's arrangement. The archive
edition has continuous groups the 8th notes
throughout the piece, but with no slur sign
over any of them, and no word, "portamento."
But only a novice would play them as sharp
staccatos throughout; the context clearly
indicates that you play them as "soft"
staccatos, that is, "portamento."

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#476879 - 10/24/05 06:43 PM Re: Piano Portamento?
AndrewG Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 2506
Loc: Denver, Colorado
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianojerome:
(Pardon me for bringing this up again.)


Well, Neuhaus refers to a 'portamento' in his book, The Art of Piano Playing, as a slightly detached touch, neither overly legato nor stacatto (picture stacatto notes under a slur).


I get the sense that there is such thing as voice/string/trombone 'portamento' (perfectly legato) and there is something similar but different called piano 'portamento' (legato, but slightly detached).


Yes? [/b]
Piano touches fall into three broad families:

1. Legato
2. Non-legato or Portato
3. Staccato

Portamento falls loosely into family 2.

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#476880 - 10/25/05 09:15 AM Re: Piano Portamento?
tomasino Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/24/05
Posts: 2039
Loc: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Hi,

"I say 'portamento," you mean 'portato!'" And so do the music arrangers at John Thompson when simplifying Schubert's Serenade.

"Portato" sounds similar, and can easily be confused with "portamento," eventhough the two terms designate something nearly opposite. It is quite easy, even for famous composers and music editors, as well as the worthies at John Thompson, to get these terms confused.

The term "portato" does indeed designate something between a stacato and a legato, and very much applies directly to keyboard instruments.

"Portamento," however, only applies to voice, string instruments, or other instruments, which can slide from one pitch to another. "Portamento" has no application whatsoever to the keyboard.

There was a long thread about "portamento" within the last week or so. I read all of it, and contributed as well. You might want to read it too.

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


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#476881 - 10/25/05 10:00 AM Re: Piano Portamento?
Axtremus Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/03
Posts: 6193
It goes like this:

(most detached)
staccato,
marcato,
portamento,
portato,
legato,
potato
(all mashed)
_________________________
www.PianoRecital.org -- my piano recordings

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#476882 - 10/25/05 10:57 AM Re: Piano Portamento?
elfen Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/10/03
Posts: 114
Loc: UK
 Quote:
Originally posted by Axtremus:

potato
(all mashed) [/b]
:D lol! Maybe you can season it with heavy pedal to complete the mushy experience.

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#476883 - 10/25/05 05:45 PM Re: Piano Portamento?
pianojerome Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/05
Posts: 9868
Hi Tom,

I started that thread! And I did read it. I brought this up again, because even Neuhaus (one of the "greatest" piano instructors of the last 100 years, the teacher of Richter, Gilels, and others) uses 'portamento' to mean a lightly detached touch at the keyboard.

This leads me to believe that the term doesn't really apply only to voice and strings and trombone, and that it has actually a different meaning when referring to the piano.

Yes, "portamento" comes from the Latin which means "to carry". So, a lightly detached feel, if executed well, can indeed "carry" the notes in a semi-legato melody.


Perhaps the term has evolved over time. Since when is "impact" a verb? It was just a noun, and then in the 50's (I think) some reporter used it as a verb. Now lots of people use it as a verb. Since when does "bad" mean really good (esp. in pop music culture)? I always thought "bad" just meant "bad". But I suppose the word has evolved, and depending on the context, and the way you say it, it can have more than one meaning.

Maybe the same has happened with 'portamento.' Maybe it used to be that it was only a "perfect" legato, but perhaps the term evolved over the course of the 20th (maybe 19th?) century to include a slightly detached portato on the piano.
_________________________
Sam

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#476884 - 10/25/05 07:16 PM Re: Piano Portamento?
tomasino Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/24/05
Posts: 2039
Loc: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Hey Sam,

Well, you could be right. Words change meanings, and have different meanings in different contexts.

But I think it's quite a stretch to speculate that "a lightly detached feel, if executed well, can indeed "carry" the notes in a semi-legato melody," and is therefore properly called "portamento." It's not a convincing speculation, especially when the word "portato," at least according to many of the contributors to the first thread, means precisely "semi-detached."

SoI feel my explanation is better. People are conflating and confusing two words with different meanings, but having a similar sound. As I said above, "it is quite easy, even for famous composers and music editors, as well as the worthies at John Thompson, to get these terms confused." And so can Neuhaus, Richter and Gilels.

There is another side to this portamento business that hasn't been addressed in either thread: Squatter's Rights.

Most singers have known the word "portamento" from their first lesson, and use the word regularly, and even lovingly, and know precisely what they mean by it. Most pianists react to the word with a blank stare. It simply isn't in the lexicon of pianism. The word belongs to the singers. Therefore, singers have Squatter's Rights!

"Portamento" is a beautiful word. It sounds nice. It trips off the tongue easily. We singers want it. We claim it. We were there first and longest and more often. (You may remember from the first thread, I'm a singer before a pianist. Piano is my second instrument).

I can understand why pianists reject "portato" in this discussion. It just doesn't sound as nice. It sounds like a mispronunciation of potato, or some other tuberous vegetable. Who wants such a word?

Pianists have their own words, many of them beautiful. "Glissando," for example, comes as close to a "portamento" on the piano as possible, and it's a lovely sounding word.

"Glissando" for the pianists, "portamento" for the singers. Two different words that mean two different things, that are sort of similar, in two different contexts. Now we're square.

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


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#476885 - 10/25/05 07:21 PM Re: Piano Portamento?
pianojerome Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/05
Posts: 9868
 Quote:
Originally posted by tomasino:
The word belongs to the singers. Therefore, singers have Squatter's Rights!

"Portamento" is a beautiful word. It sounds nice. It trips off the tongue easily. We singers want it. We claim it. We were there first and longest and more often.
[/b]
:rolleyes: :p
_________________________
Sam

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