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#500439 - 08/07/07 05:15 AM Ornamentation and CPE Bach
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13789
Loc: Iowa City, IA
In light of our recent Mozart discussions, I spent some time tonight rereading C.P.E. Bach's treatise on keyboard playing.

Here are some things he has to say regarding trills. Bold face and comments in italics are mine. I hope some of you find this interesting:

"3. The accomplished keyboardist has four trills; the normal, ascending, descending, and half or short trill.

5. The normal trill has the sign of an m, here he shows the usual squiggly line we're all used to which is extended when it appears over long notes. Its execution is illustrated in example (c). Since it always begins on the tone above the principal note[/b], it is superfluous to add a small note unless this note stands for an appogiatura."

Now we jump to his discussion of the ascending trill, which starts on the note *below* the principal note.

"22. The ascending trill with its symbol and execution are shown in Figure 102. Because, aside from the keyboard, this symbol is not widely known, it is often notated in the manner of the asterisked examples; or the general abbreviation tr. is written, the choice of trill being left to the discretion of the performer.[/b]"

Now the discussion of the short trill, which is notated the same as a normal trill. A note with a short trill on it is preceded by the note a step above.

"31. The short trill joins the preceding note to the decorated one and therefore never appears over detached notes. It represents in miniature an enclosed, unsuffixed trill, introduced by either an appogiatura or a principal note.[/b]"

And then there's this general bit of advice:

"19. All ornaments stand in proportioned relationship to the length of the principal note, the tempo, and the affect of a piece.[/b] In those cases where a variety of embellishments is used and the performer is not too restricted by the affect, note that the more tones contained in an ornament, the longer the principal note must be, regardless of whether the source of this length is the note itself or the tempo. The brilliance of an embellishment must not be dulled by excessive space following its execution. On the contrary, the performer must avoid a too hurried performance, which blurs certain ornaments. This is caused mostly by the introduction of embellishments containing many tones and the excessive embellishment of rapid notes."

And that's just a tiny piece of over 60 pages of comments regarding ornaments. He also notes that notational practice was not standardized, so the choice of ornament often depends on the taste and training of the performer.
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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#500440 - 08/07/07 02:06 PM Re: Ornamentation and CPE Bach
BruceD Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 18018
Loc: Victoria, BC
Kreisler :

Yes, very interesting reading. I guess I should have CPEBach's treatise on my bookshelf.

Thank you for sharing those excerpts.

Regards,
_________________________
BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190

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#500441 - 08/08/07 05:53 AM Re: Ornamentation and CPE Bach
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
Neat subject Kreisler ... but a bit like digging up dry bones.

CPE Bach was obviously clued up by Dad to the niceties of grace notes ... but then he was working within a pre-piano Baroque era ... not the sort of fare that the modern generation attach much importance ... but don't you think your quote to the mug in the street is mind-bending ... largely because there is no visual reference point upon which to build the various note pattern differences ... thus judging grace notes in aural terms calls for extraordinary powers of concentration (more so with the different trills) ... why not bridge this huge communication gulf by presenting a linear diagram of the grace notes (so that the power of the eye can be brought to bear) ... my pupils quickly grasp the message with this diagram of all the grace notes ... but upon reflection must just say that not that many Computer Age whizz-kids turn cartwheels at the prospect of having to sight-read the music of "dead-guys" Bach, Haydn or Mozart.

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#500442 - 08/08/07 02:37 PM Re: Ornamentation and CPE Bach
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13789
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Some of the power of the old notation is that it was imprecise. It allowed for people to add some of their own ideas and personality. Graphic notation is too precise. A computer could read it.

In other words. The bones aren't dry. They're nice and juicy. \:D
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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#500443 - 08/08/07 03:41 PM Re: Ornamentation and CPE Bach
John Citron Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/15/05
Posts: 3925
Loc: Haverhill, Massachusetts
This is very interesting Kreisler, I must dig up may copy of this book myself. Recently I've been reading through some of his sonatas in the Henle edition, and the ornaments have been written out.

There are really two copies of the music - one above the staff, and one below that show who the music should be played, and how it is written respectively. There is quite a difference especially in how we interpret the music today from this period, and how it was possibly played.

We really don't know how much was added, and the editor is only trying to elude to what was supposed to be play by using the rules that CPE Bach attempted to lay down for us.

In away it's as though he tried to put some semblance of order to the imprecise nature of musical ornaments. I think he did a pretty good job of it.

John
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#500444 - 08/09/07 06:53 AM Re: Ornamentation and CPE Bach
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
Thanks for the rejoinder ... you are putting fine words to an imprecise notation ... glad you added a smiley to your “juicy bones” comment ...
it must be a relief to get in a round of golf after labouring through Ye Olde CPE Bach Treatise ... John Citron is obviously in his element whacking out the various trills on his John Lyon unfretted German Clavichord (envy!)... it will be interesting to hear whether he goes along with “ It allowed for people to add some
of their own ideas (whatever that means) and *personality”.

* Perhaps like Frank Sinatra it means ...
“I did it My Way”.

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#500445 - 08/09/07 07:06 AM Re: Ornamentation and CPE Bach
argerichfan Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8885
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
 Quote:
Originally posted by btb:
Perhaps like Frank Sinatra it means ...
“I did it My Way”.
Or perhaps as he sang with his daughter "Somethin' Stupid"?

Just kidding... \:D
_________________________
Jason

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#500446 - 08/09/07 12:43 PM Re: Ornamentation and CPE Bach
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
Who is C.P.E.?

interesting anecdotal contribution...

i've bought a lot of piano music at estate sales over the years.. sometime whole lots for a few dollars. i was just going thru an old book last nite - an old B.F.Wood edition entitled Bach - Short preludes and fugues..(Boston, New York, Leipzig and London). "The text, to all intents and purposes, is the same as the old edition of Czerny, Griepenkerl and Roitzsch, rephrased and refingered in accordance with modern ideas. Editors lament that the best authorities disagree on the execution of ornaments due to the fact that Bach's contempories would use several signs to express the same thing as well as the same sign to denote several things. \:D

There is a discussion (actually more of a lecture, discussing ornaments and their execution). (it seems pretty much in keeping with my Henle specifics).. the book specifically writes out the ornaments in margins sometimes.

i like this little excerpt: "Bach regarded the trill as a manifold repetition of the appoggiatura and found it's aesthetic charm in the oft repeated alternation of a suspension with its resolution"

The volume includes 12 little fugues for beginners, 6 little preludes for beginners, the little 2 part fugue in C minor, 2 C major fugues and Preludes and Fugues in D,E, and A minor.
_________________________
accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)

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#500447 - 08/09/07 01:07 PM Re: Ornamentation and CPE Bach
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13789
Loc: Iowa City, IA
C.P.E. Bach was Carl Philip Emanuel Bach, probably J.S. Bach's most famous son. He was an excellent composer in his own right and bridged the gap between the baroque and classical styles. His treatise was known and highly regarded by Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven and reflects the best practice of the day. It was written in 1753 and was reprinted and revised several times throughout the 18th century and was considered a standard text on piano playing. The book is in two parts. Part I concerns performance practice - style, fingering, and embellishments. Part II covers figured bass realization, accompanying techniques, and improvisation - all necessary skills for the professional keyboard player in Mozart's day. (People often forget that figured bass appears even in Mozart's keyboard concerti!)
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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#500448 - 08/09/07 03:55 PM Re: Ornamentation and CPE Bach
John Citron Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/15/05
Posts: 3925
Loc: Haverhill, Massachusetts
What is interesting about the ornamentation is that they are very appropriate for the clavichord, but really quite awkward sounding when played on the piano.

I find that this is because the clavichord has less sustain and no pedals, and therefore like the harpsichord, really needs the extra boost from the ornaments. When these are played on the piano, they don't sound right or feel right.

btb - With CPE Bach, and the edition I have, I find it unecessary to add anymore ornaments then what has been indicated. Other composers, however, including Haydn can use the extra boost from the ornamentation.

John
_________________________
Nothing.

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#500449 - 08/09/07 04:11 PM Re: Ornamentation and CPE Bach
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21519
Loc: Oakland
CPE Bach seemed to be a stickler for notating ornamentation, while brother JC worked in London, where a lot of ornamentation was not the fashion, and WF and JCF were not so detailed. I think what happened is that people realized that there was not much point in writing a bunch of ornaments in small notes, and it just got incorporated into the text, as in the printed version of the slow movement of the K. 332 sonata of Mozart versus the manuscript version. That makes the principal value of CPE Bach's work in recognizing how one should work backwards from the ornamented version to the original theme, as well as offering a palette of tricks that one can use to embellish a theme.
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Semipro Tech

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#500450 - 08/09/07 06:25 PM Re: Ornamentation and CPE Bach
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
From his experiences John could be pointing to the clavichord/harpsichord having largely fashioned the grace note format ... the timid strike mechanism of the instruments calls for music with more grace note flourishes ... but in time steadily dissipates with the advance of the piano ... it’s broader pallette ... and sonorous sustaining pedal.

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#500451 - 08/09/07 06:29 PM Re: Ornamentation and CPE Bach
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21519
Loc: Oakland
Ornaments compensated for the lack of expression in harpsichords. English harpsichords had pedals, which allowed a player to change the expression quickly, which might explain why ornamentation was not as popular there than on the continent.
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Semipro Tech

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#500452 - 08/09/07 08:50 PM Re: Ornamentation and CPE Bach
drumour Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/08/05
Posts: 859
Loc: Scotland
 Quote:
Originally posted by BDB:
Ornaments compensated for the lack of expression in harpsichords. English harpsichords had pedals, which allowed a player to change the expression quickly, which might explain why ornamentation was not as popular there than on the continent. [/b]
Exactly. A long trill served the very practical function of sustaining a single note on the harpsichord or clavichord (or piano for that matter). Many other ornaments served to "accent" notes in ways that did not rely on volume of sound.


John
_________________________
Vasa inania multum strepunt.

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#500453 - 08/09/07 08:57 PM Re: Ornamentation and CPE Bach
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
never thought of that.
_________________________
accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)

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#500454 - 08/09/07 09:02 PM Re: Ornamentation and CPE Bach
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13789
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Yep...it's always important to remember that a performance of anything written before the mid 19th century is automatically an inauthentic transcription.

This is pretty much what Neumann was saying in the excerpt from his book I posted over in the Mozart thread...
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#500455 - 08/09/07 09:15 PM Re: Ornamentation and CPE Bach
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21519
Loc: Oakland
 Quote:
Yep...it's always important to remember that a performance of anything written before the mid 19th century is automatically an inauthentic transcription.
I think it would be more accurate to say that most piano music written down is an approximation at best. If all you can play is what is on the page, it is authentic, but no more or less so than if you can do more or less and do so. What is not authentic is playing exactly what is written on the page when you can do better.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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