question about dynamics in schumann's soldier's march

Posted by: poorly_tempered

question about dynamics in schumann's soldier's march - 05/03/13 08:20 AM

hi,

bit of a newbie here. i have some questions about the dynamics in robert schumann's soldier's march, op 68 no 2. i am using the score edited by clara schumann available from the international music score library project here:
http://imslp.org/wiki/Album_f%C3%BCr_die_Jugend,_Op.68_(Schumann,_Robert)

this piece has forte indications at bar 1, 5, 9, 13, 17, 24, 25, 31 and 32. there are no other dynamics in the piece.

i understand what the word forte (loudly, strong) means, but i'm not sure what the intent is of all these indications. i can deduce that the whole piece isn't intended to be played forte, otherwise there wouldn't need to be 9 forte indications.

i guess my questions are:
- for how long does the forte stay in effect: 1 beat; 1 bar; a few bars; it depends?
- do the multple fortes, say at bar 1 and bar 5 imply that by the time you get to bar 4 you should not be playing forte?

my guess is that in general the music is forte at each f indication, but then tapers to mf by the time the next forte is reached. but that isn't indicated. i realize the dynamics need to be musical, but the piece can be interpreted in many different but still musical ways.

so i'm looking for advice and guidance on what robert and clara were trying to recommend for dynamics. thanks in advance.
Posted by: landorrano

Re: question about dynamics in schumann's soldier's march - 05/03/13 10:00 AM

Hi Poorly-tempered. I'd dare say that you are making it much too complicated and that the most important indication is ... the title itself. Soldatenmarsch. Soldiers' March. Imagine how soldiers would march, beating out the bass drum with munter and with strass and play it like that! Hup, two, hup, two !!! Chin up, chest out, shoulders back !!!
Posted by: BruceD

Re: question about dynamics in schumann's soldier's march - 05/03/13 10:54 AM

pt :

Schumann can be frustratingly sparse in his use of dynamics. My (limited) experience with his writing, particularly in Urtext editions that have not been edited by Clara or anyone else, leads me to believe that he sometimes uses the f indication to indicate an accent on a given note and he will often use sf in analogous spots. Examples of this occur throughout the (Urtext edition) of the Op. 12 Fantasiest├╝cke which I am currently working on.

It makes little sense, otherwise, when Schumann uses two, three or four forte indications in the same measure, than to think that he means a stress or an accent on a given note, rather than an indication of an overall dynamic.

By analogy, my suggestion for the Soldier's March is to play it moderately loud, but to accent those notes where the score has a f indication.

Regards,
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: question about dynamics in schumann's soldier's march - 05/03/13 12:02 PM

Originally Posted By: landorrano
Hi Poorly-tempered. I'd dare say that you are making it much too complicated and that the most important indication is ... the title itself. Soldatenmarsch. Soldiers' March. Imagine how soldiers would march, beating out the bass drum with munter and with strass and play it like that! Hup, two, hup, two !!! Chin up, chest out, shoulders back !!!
The idea that the title of this march(or any march by extension)is the only important thing and that considering the meaning of any dynamic indications is too complicated is very wrong IMO.
Posted by: poorly_tempered

Re: question about dynamics in schumann's soldier's march - 05/03/13 12:42 PM

Originally Posted By: landorrano
Hi Poorly-tempered. I'd dare say that you are making it much too complicated and that the most important indication is ... the title itself. Soldatenmarsch. Soldiers' March. Imagine how soldiers would march, beating out the bass drum with munter and with strass and play it like that! Hup, two, hup, two !!! Chin up, chest out, shoulders back !!!


hi landorrano. i get your point about the importance of the tune sounding like a soldier's march. however, i don't think i'm making it so much complicated as asking a specific question. the 9 forte indications were written purposefully, and i'm just trying to better understand their scope and purpose.
Posted by: poorly_tempered

Re: question about dynamics in schumann's soldier's march - 05/03/13 12:53 PM

Originally Posted By: BruceD
pt :

Schumann can be frustratingly sparse in his use of dynamics. My (limited) experience with his writing, particularly in Urtext editions that have not been edited by Clara or anyone else, leads me to believe that he sometimes uses the f indication to indicate an accent on a given note and he will often use sf in analogous spots. Examples of this occur throughout the (Urtext edition) of the Op. 12 Fantasiest├╝cke which I am currently working on.

It makes little sense, otherwise, when Schumann uses two, three or four forte indications in the same measure, than to think that he means a stress or an accent on a given note, rather than an indication of an overall dynamic.

By analogy, my suggestion for the Soldier's March is to play it moderately loud, but to accent those notes where the score has a f indication.

Regards,


hi bruce, thanks for the reply. in the soldier's march, most of the forte indications are spread out. however, the last two chords are both marked forte. this is in line with what you are writing, to stress the notes on that beat. other pieces in the same edition have crescendos and/or decrescendos written in.

another dynamic marking i'm not familiar with is a very short crescendo followed by a decresendo over a single note or chord. i assume it is to indicate an accent. this isn't the soldier's march but in the first piece, op 68 no 1.
Posted by: landorrano

Re: question about dynamics in schumann's soldier's march - 05/03/13 01:35 PM

Originally Posted By: poorly_tempered


hi landorrano. i get your point about the importance of the tune sounding like a soldier's march. however, i don't think i'm making it so much complicated as asking a specific question. the 9 forte indications were written purposefully, and i'm just trying to better understand their scope and purpose.


OK! But still, I'd dare say that the purpose of the 9 forte indications is to say to some indifferent kid: Chin up, chest out, shoulders back! Hup, two, hup, two! Bass drum !!!!
Posted by: landorrano

Re: question about dynamics in schumann's soldier's march - 05/03/13 01:41 PM

By the way, Poorly-tempered, welcome to the forum!

Posted by: poorly_tempered

Re: question about dynamics in schumann's soldier's march - 05/04/13 10:06 AM

Originally Posted By: landorrano
By the way, Poorly-tempered, welcome to the forum!





thank you landorrano. as you can tell, i'm a jump right in type of person.
Posted by: hujidong

Re: question about dynamics in schumann's soldier's march - 05/04/13 02:37 PM

Hi Poorly!

I don't have the music to Schumann's March, but there might be some different thoughts to consider regarding the method towards which you approach the score and dynamic markings. How do you hear the piece? There can only be so much written into the score and they are just guidelines, would you play the same piece the same way every time even if you were the composer?? Possibly..but..maybe not..? We are trying to give performances of our own thoughts when the time comes, at that particular point in time.

From what you posted I might suggest taking a different approach towards the viewing of score and dynamic. Maybe there is a reason that the duration of the f is left for the performer/student to wonder about, as if that was a part of the fun in the score. Before the music starts, dynamics are completely relative, to the point of hardly existing! Once you start painting on your canvas of silence you give form to what you want. So make the f your own f! Remember the relativity of dynamics, that there are so many different ways to create the unlimited range of dynamics that are limited by so few letters.

Do you like to regard scores more as implications and instructions, or do you lean more towards suggestions?
Posted by: Kreisler

Re: question about dynamics in schumann's soldier's march - 05/04/13 04:43 PM

Originally Posted By: hujidong
Do you like to regard scores more as implications and instructions, or do you lean more towards suggestions?


Depends on the composer. Some write very explicit instructions (Bartok) or implications (Beethoven.) Others are less specific (Schumann.) Some were very explicit, but changed their minds frequently, so it's unlikely any version is "definitive" (Chopin.)

Then there's Bach, who's hard to pin down. On one hand, he was pretty explicit about somethings (the ornaments in the 2nd English Suite being a good example.) On the other hand, some of his notation leaves a lot of room for creative interpretation (the famous arpeggios in the Chromatic Fantasy.)

Mozart was similar, at least in the concerti. Sometimes he wrote all the notes out, but sometimes he simply wrote figured bass. (Most pianists just don't realize the figures, many play from editions that don't include the figures and don't even know they exist. A few do it the "right" way and play continuo during those sections, as if conducting from the keyboard.
Posted by: poorly_tempered

Re: question about dynamics in schumann's soldier's march - 05/05/13 09:42 AM

Originally Posted By: hujidong
Hi Poorly!

I don't have the music to Schumann's March, but there might be some different thoughts to consider regarding the method towards which you approach the score and dynamic markings. How do you hear the piece? There can only be so much written into the score and they are just guidelines, would you play the same piece the same way every time even if you were the composer?? Possibly..but..maybe not..? We are trying to give performances of our own thoughts when the time comes, at that particular point in time.

From what you posted I might suggest taking a different approach towards the viewing of score and dynamic. Maybe there is a reason that the duration of the f is left for the performer/student to wonder about, as if that was a part of the fun in the score. Before the music starts, dynamics are completely relative, to the point of hardly existing! Once you start painting on your canvas of silence you give form to what you want. So make the f your own f! Remember the relativity of dynamics, that there are so many different ways to create the unlimited range of dynamics that are limited by so few letters.

Do you like to regard scores more as implications and instructions, or do you lean more towards suggestions?


hi hujidong,

there is a link to the score in my initial post if you are interested. i can hear the piece in various ways. this piece, number 2, is part of a set of 43 pieces (Opus 68). the other pieces surrounding this one are all marked with a single p at the start.

i would say i tend to regard scrores more as instructions. sometimes one can intentionally deviate from these instructions. however, even if they are viewed as suggestions, i think it is valuable to understand what those suggestions are.

as a joke, i want to write that i made the f so my own that i made it a ppp! thanks for your thoughts.