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#349464 - 04/30/06 10:52 AM Sextuplets?
sleepy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/26/06
Posts: 330
OK, maybe that's not the technical term. I'm referring to the breakdown of one beat into 6 equal parts (like triplets would be one beat broken into 3 equal parts). I guess I'm supposed to accent the first one and then toss off the succeeding 5 with no accents? But I always seem to tend to accent either 1 and 4, or 1,3,and5. Is there a way to avoid this? Or is it right to play them either as a pair of triplets or a trio of duplets? And, if so, how do you decide when to do which?

Thanks! This has been bothering me for 50 years. Any suggestions for listening would be appreciated, too.

sleepy

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#349465 - 04/30/06 11:03 AM Re: Sextuplets?
John Citron Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/15/05
Posts: 3925
Loc: Haverhill, Massachusetts
Technically speaking the sextuplets would be accented on the first note of each beat. (As I think of Schubert's Impromptu Op. 90 No. 3 in G-flat Major).

If you are striving for eveness within the beats, you might want to try subdividing the beats, and count each on each note individually, and not accent any particular beat. (As in 1-23456, 2-23456, etc.)

I do this often when I am first learning something to ensure rhythmic accuracy through out. On a simpler level, I will count 16th's as eights, eighths as quarters, etc.

John
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#349466 - 04/30/06 11:04 AM Re: Sextuplets?
BruceD Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

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

It would help if you could give specific instances of the sextuplets that are cause for your concern; I can't think of an instance - although there may be some - where sextuplets should be divided into three groups of two. In most cases, I believe, a sextuplet will have an accent on the first note of the group and a lesser accent on the fourth note of the group, making it two groups of three.

In a similar fashion, 6/8 time is a duple time, not a triple time, that is: two beats of three notes to a beat, not three beats of two notes to a beat.

Regards,
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BruceD
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#349467 - 04/30/06 11:05 AM Re: Sextuplets?
pianojerome Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/05
Posts: 9868
Try slightly raising your wrist (and arm) with each note. So, your wrist is low for the first note, a little (just a little) higher for the second note, a little higher for the third note, etc.

Then, when you get to the last note, gently lift your wrist and arm up so that the last note feels like a release from the set of sextuplets.
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Sam

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#349468 - 04/30/06 11:23 AM Re: Sextuplets?
sleepy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/26/06
Posts: 330
Fantastic having so many responses in such a short time, thanks all!

I should have tried to give examples, sorry. Here are a couple.

In the Schubert that John mentioned, I hear (and play) the sextuplets as BruceD described, with an accent on the first note and a lesser accent on the fourth note.

An example of a situation where I think I tend to play them as 3 beats of two notes to a beat is in the second section of Chopin's Nocturne Op. 15 No. 1, in F, in which each of the 3 beats in each measure is subdivided into 6 notes.

Thanks again!

sleepy

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#349469 - 04/30/06 11:50 AM Re: Sextuplets?
BruceD Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

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

In the Gb major Schubert Impromptu, the sextuplet is definitely made up of two groups of three. This is borne out by the melody at certain points (bars 3, 7, 13, etc., etc., where the sextuplet is broken into two groups of three.

I do disagree with you on the second section of the Chopin Nocturne, Op 15, No 1 where, again, I strongly believe that the group is two groups of three. In several recordings I have of the Nocturnes and in any performance of it, I have always heard - and felt - two groups of three on each beat. Although I'm not sure it's the real point here, breaking it down to three groups of two destroys the momentum that this section must have. I think the point is that sextuplets are almost always two groups of three. Were it otherwise, I believe Chopin might have written this section in 9/8.

Listen to recordings of this section; I think you'll hear the sextuplet as two groups of three.

Another example of sextuplets in Chopin is the Etude Op 25 No 1 where, in performance, one should not have any secondary beats in each main beat (although secondary "pulses" may be felt), but where, quite pointedly, Chopin does divide the beat into two groups of three in bars 42 and 43. At this point, I don't feel that it's a rhythm that is contrary to that in all the rest of the Etude, but a confirmation of it.

Regards,
_________________________
BruceD
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Estonia 190

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#349470 - 04/30/06 12:21 PM Re: Sextuplets?
BruceD Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 18018
Loc: Victoria, BC
"sextolet, sextuplet : A group of six notes of equal length, taking the place of several (normally four) notes of the same kind, from which they are usually distinguished by a figure 6. The true sextolet is formed by dividing each note of a triplet into two, thus giving six notes, of which the first alone is accented. More frequently used, however, is the double triplet, properly marked as such, but usually marked with a 6 and called a sextolet, although it carries a slight accent on the fourth note as well as the first. Both types are found, for instance, in the Largo of Beethoven's Piano Concerto no. 1; to ensure correct accentuation such passages are better grouped as in ex. 2" [1]

The New Grove Dictionary of Music & Musicians , vol. 17. pp. 205-06.

1] Example 1 first shows double triplets: six sixteenth notes, written with two 3's over each group of three; then sextolets: two groups of six with 6's written over each group. Example 2 shows two groups of 6 notes with a 6 over each group; the first is divided into three groups of two notes each, and the second is divided into two groups of three notes each.

Evidently, then, there are occasions when a sextuplet (sextolet) can be divided into three groups of two. I still feel that in the examples we discussed, two groups of three is the "accepted" interpretation, or the "norm," as it were.

[Edit] I then looked at the Beethoven score referred to in Groves. There are many "double triplets" in my edition of the score (groups of six sixteenth notes per beat, grouped as two groups of 3 each, with 3's written over each group of three). The "true" sextolet (sextuplet) occurs in only one instance. There, it follows several bars of eighth-note triplets in both hands (and eighth-note triplets in the orchestra) Then, comes a bar where the LH has only a quarter note, a quarter rest, a quarter note, and a quarter rest, while the RH has two sextuplets: (two groups of six sixteenths, each with a 6 over them, followed by two triplets). It would make the most logical sense - if any division of the sextuplet were done - to divide them as three groups of two notes. I would think that, in this instance, one would conform to the suggestion that only the first note be accented.

Regards,
_________________________
BruceD
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Estonia 190

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#349471 - 04/30/06 12:52 PM Re: Sextuplets?
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
One example of this is the lt. hand
accompaniment in the Fantasie Impromptu.
Here, in cut time, you have 2 sextuplets in
each measure, so the context indicates
that each sextuplet is supposed to represent
one beat. In this piece you wouldn't necessarily
be concerned about consciously putting
an accent on any particular note of the
sextuplet (although you'd probably
tend to accent the 1st note of each
sextuplet slightly, as a natural consequence
of the duple nature of the time), since
there are other more pressing problems,
like the continuous polyrhythm.

For the purposes of analyzing that polyrhythm,
you'd consider the sextuplet as two triplets
joined together. This simplifies the
analysis, because then you can
just consider this a 4 against 3 polyryhthm
(4 in the r.h. against 3 in the l.h.)
instead of 8 against 6.

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#349472 - 05/01/06 11:53 AM Re: Sextuplets?
sleepy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/26/06
Posts: 330
Thanks, BruceD and Gyro, for such thoughtful and substantial comments. I am going to track down the scores and recordings of the pieces you mentioned.

sleepy

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#349473 - 05/03/06 04:43 PM Re: Sextuplets?
sleepy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/26/06
Posts: 330
I just listened to a recording of Maria Tipo playing the Chopin Nocturne (Op. 15, #1). I have to admit, the second section was so fast I barely could tell what I was hearing, but it really did seem to me like each sextuplet was played as 3 groups of 2. I also noticed that there didn't seem to be a difference (to my ear) when she got to the 6/8 measure at the end of the section, which is definitely 3 sets of 2 beats. Perhaps I need to go over this with an expert at the piano who can show it to me slowly!

sleepy

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#349474 - 05/05/06 09:23 AM Re: Sextuplets?
sleepy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/26/06
Posts: 330
I finally got a chance to listen to more of the Tipo recording of the Nocturnes. The Op. 15 #2, in F-sharp major, is much slower, and I was able to hear the sextuplets much more clearly.

Those in the last half of measure 12 are done as 3 groups of 2.
Those in the last half of measure 13 are done as 2 groups of 3.
Those in the last half of measure 22 are done as 2 groups of 3.
Those in the last half of measure 24 are done as 2 groups of 3.
Those in measures 60-61 (the ending) are done as 3 groups of 2.

I think when I say 3 groups of 2, I really mean "not 2 groups of 3." There are no heavy accents on 1,3,5, rather they are played as an even string of 6 notes, which can't help sounding to me like groups of pairs. ("Nannie-annie-annie" as opposed to "Kennedy-Kennedy")

It also seems to me that the 32nd notes in places like, for example, measure 2, are played more like triplets.

I have the feeling that my brain is trying to approach reading music in a very literal way. I think I need to realize that music notation only approximately represents the sound, and that playing the music of the great composers is not a matter of reading the notes (and counting!) but of learning the style and the conventions. I am also interested now in hearing other recordings of the same pieces to see how rigid or flexible the interpretation of style and application of conventions might be. Any comments or suggestions are really appreciated!

I took piano lessons for many years, and one of my teachers, in particular, was really wonderful, but I never felt that this topic was addressed to my satisfaction. Perhaps it's because teachers take for granted such things as rolling off sextuplets? Or maybe I never reached the level where I encountered things like this enough.

sleepy

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#349475 - 05/05/06 03:36 PM Re: Sextuplets?
BruceD Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 18018
Loc: Victoria, BC
 Quote:
Originally posted by sleepy:
[..] I think I need to realize that music notation only approximately represents the sound, and that playing the music of the great composers is not a matter of reading the notes (and counting!) but of learning the style and the conventions. [...]sleepy [/b]
In my opinion, this is a very astute observation.

Regards,
_________________________
BruceD
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Estonia 190

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#349476 - 05/05/06 04:24 PM Re: Sextuplets?
PoStTeNeBrAsLuX Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/31/05
Posts: 2618
Loc: Geneva, Switzerland
sleepy:
 Quote:
I think I need to realize that music notation only approximately represents the sound,
Agreed... up to a point. To paraphrase Tovey in many of his Beethoven Sonata commentaries, nothing is so dull as laziness and inaccuracy. So when Beethoven wrote '6 to a beat' (instead of '2 groups of 3' or '3 groups of 2') that's probably what he meant, hence he most likely thought of a sextuplet as quite different to a pair of triplets (or indeed a three lots of duplets), or he would have written them as such[1]. Similarly, in the Fantaisie-Impromptu example, Chopin could have easily written 4 groups of triplets, but he wrote 2 groups of 6, hence to play it otherwise would lose Chopin's intention of a definite '2 in the bar' feel, rather than 4. So I think I pretty much agree with what has been said above... perhaps \:\) .

- Michael B.

[1] There is an instance on the last page of the final movement of Op2#2 (the final appearance of the rondo theme, I think) where the RH has a whole bar of sextuplets 16th notes, and the LH quavers in a Alberti style accompaniment. The lazy way would be to play the RH as a series of triplets, as the 4th note of each group of 6 coincides (perhaps conveniently) with the second of each LH quaver pairs. Listen to a great (or even just a good) pianist play it, and the second quaver of each LH pair is so delicate that even though one retains the sound of the accompaniment, at the same time the RH conserves the '6 to a beat' feel, rather than descending into triplets. To play it thus obviously requires some thought and practice, but the effect is magical compared to a dull procession of triplets. And it is also of course what LvB actually wrote \:\) .
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There are two rules to success in life: Rule #1. Don't tell people everything you know.

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#349477 - 05/05/06 05:23 PM Re: Sextuplets?
sleepy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/26/06
Posts: 330
This board is like an online seminar! Now I have to track down these Beethoven and Chopin scores and recordings...

Thanks for all the generous and knowledgeable responses!

sleepy

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#349478 - 05/06/06 12:19 PM Re: Sextuplets?
Kelana Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/01/06
Posts: 70
Loc: Singapore
Responding to Gyro's post - does anybody 'count' the fantasie impromptu in 2 beats a bar rather than 4? Personally, my internal metronome counts four triplets throughout, and couldn't imagine not accenting the second beat of the bar (or 'fourth' note of two sextuplets)...
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#349479 - 05/06/06 01:24 PM Re: Sextuplets?
BruceD Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

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

It might be admissable to count four in a bar for practice purposes, getting the 3 against 4 (eventually 6 against 8) established accurately, but to continue to count four in a bar is contrary to what is written in the score. There are two published versions of the "Fantasie Impromptu," and both are written two to a bar.

If you do four in a bar, remember Bette Davis's famous quote in All About Eve "Fasten your seatbelts, we're in for a bumpy ride."

Regards,
_________________________
BruceD
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Estonia 190

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#349480 - 05/06/06 11:11 PM Re: Sextuplets?
Kelana Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/01/06
Posts: 70
Loc: Singapore
Huh! My copy (from the Library of Piano Classics) is marked C for common time (four beats to a bar), and while the left hand is marked as legato sextuplets, the right hand is definitely marked in groups of four (rather than eight) semiquavers.

While altering the left hand so there is no accent on the fourth of six probably wouldn't make much of a difference, not accenting the 'fifth' semi-quaver of eight would change the way I hear this piece in my head - which is figures of four semiquavers (to draw an analogy to a previous thread - Ta-da-da-da Ta-da-da-da). Maybe I'm not playing this the way it's supposed to be played (but if so, I feel a little mislead by my manuscript!)
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Ever imagined a world without hypothetical situations?

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