Difference between crescendo markings

Posted by: TrueMusic

Difference between crescendo markings - 12/12/12 08:50 PM

I had a conversation with my composition professor the other day about crescendo markings, and I'm not sure I 100% agree with him. He says that using a cresc. mark and using the hairpin < markings are interchangable and the < marks should not be used across barlines. I disagree. I think the a crescendo mark is a gradual build across x number of measure, and the < mark, particularly if used in sequences [like doing a series of <<<< markings] signifies for more swelling dynamics, rather than a gradual build. He told me to correct a mark in my score where I had multiple < marks rather than just a cresc. but I think to the performer those two things will come across differently. with a < you start small and grow, so a series of them implies multiple swells from soft to loud. I also think that these marking, sometimes because of phrasing, are needed to go across barlines to get the desired effect.

Opinions? Obviously my professor has been around a lot longer than I have and knows more, but this is just more or less how I got taught the difference between the markings, but I'm more than willing to be wrong.
Posted by: Nikolas

Re: Difference between crescendo markings - 12/12/12 11:05 PM

In my head I think that a cresc. marking is for longer phrases, while a hairpin is for smaller phrases. That said your professor is not exactly wrong or absurd when he says that a hairpin should not cross a barline, but in reality this can take place some times.

When you put multiple hairpins one next to the other like < < < < < you're practically asking for small swells each one at approximately the same loudness level, rather than anything else.

The problem with a hairpin is that it usually gets in the way of things (legato slurs, higher or lower notes of each staff, etc), so it's not practical to keep it around for too long. On the other hand having a cresc. sign is also confusing, because in reality you're just telling the performer to play something louder little by little, but you give no instruction as to how fast you want him/her to go louder and for how long. wink
Posted by: TrueMusic

Re: Difference between crescendo markings - 12/12/12 11:53 PM

Well glad to know I wasn't completely off base! I guess it's just REALLY difficult to notate your exact idea of dynamics to a performer without giving to much or being confusing! But I guess that's where a performers "interpretation" of a piece comes into play. The goal should be to give a skilled performer enough information to get the message across and they fill in the rest, I guess.
Posted by: LoPresti

Difference between crescendo markings - 12/13/12 12:20 AM

To add to Nikolas' insight, there are certain ways for the composer to impose more of his intention on his piece.

"Increase in loudness, from very soft to very loud, gradually, and over a long stretch"
pp .cres. . . poco a poco . . p . . a poco . . f . . molto . . ff

"Make waves of soft-to-loud"
p < f . . . p < f . . . p < f . . . p < f

"Make waves of soft-to-loud, each wave starting softer"
f < ff . . . mf < f . . . mp < mf . . . p < mp . . . pp < p

"Decrease in loudness, gradually, but not too much"
decres . . . poco a poco . . . non troppo

In the interest of following a school of teaching, do as your professor suggests, AND know that these exist.
Ed
Posted by: Nikolas

Re: Difference between crescendo markings - 12/13/12 12:31 AM

There you go then. You heard it first from the horses mouth: None other than Ed, a Sicilian! wink
Posted by: LoPresti

Difference between crescendo markings - 12/13/12 02:24 AM

What are you doing awake at this hour? Why, it must be fifteen o'clock over there.
Posted by: casinitaly

Re: Difference between crescendo markings - 12/13/12 02:31 AM

Originally Posted By: LoPresti
What are you doing awake at this hour? Why, it must be fifteen o'clock over there.


Fifteen? No, not quite fifteen smile 9.30am now in Greece, 8.30am here in Italy. In fact I think it might be more appropriate to say what are YOU doing up at this hour? 2.30am?

p.s. Yes, I know you were joking -- me too smile I couldn't resist.
Posted by: Nikolas

Re: Difference between crescendo markings - 12/13/12 02:34 AM

Originally Posted By: LoPresti
What are you doing awake at this hour? Why, it must be fifteen o'clock over there.
I'm actually unable to sleep in the morning. I posted at 05:35 which was more than half an hour since I woke up...

I think it's got something to do with either the workload I have or the fact that my wife is working away from Greece (or both)...

Still, I think that I'm getting at maximum 5 hours of sleep daily, which is very little considering my age (35) and the things that I do.

I just hope that over Christmas I'll be able to crash sleep througout a few days...
Posted by: LoPresti

Difference between crescendo markings - 12/13/12 02:37 AM

Ciao, Cas',

I might know you would be here to keep me honest - or accurate - or, at least, paying attention.

Ora, sono molto stanco.
Buona notte!
LoPresti