portamento

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musicus
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portamento

Post by musicus » Fri Sep 18, 2020 7:14 pm

Sirs,

Your advice, please, on how to best articulate the attached. I'm looking for
a portamento style on the piano. All notes detached but not staccato. Which is
preferable - the first 2 measures with one long slur, or the last 2 measures with the
shorter slur. I prefer the first 2, just wanted to check with you guys. Thanks.
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Re: portamento

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Djard
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Re: portamento

Post by Djard » Fri Sep 18, 2020 9:09 pm

IMHO, you would add a gliss. mark between each note for playback, since a true port. is not possible on piano (unless played at blinding speed). The slur terminating on Db indicates that the gliss ends smoothly. In the second instance, the Db is played at the end of the sequence (to me the use of the slur indicates that the last note in the slide is not played separately). So I prefer the first instance.

If playback is not an issue, your could draw a gliss make up to C5 then one from C5 down to Db4. The reader will understand the directive. A customized wavy line might be preferred; since the phrase is unusual. I hope I understood what you seek.

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Re: portamento

Post by musicus » Fri Sep 18, 2020 9:18 pm

Thanks but I am not referring to playback. Only referring to the printed score.
Djard wrote:
Fri Sep 18, 2020 9:09 pm
IMHO, you would add a gliss. mark between each note for playback, since a true port. is not possible on piano (unless played at blinding speed). The slur terminating on Db indicates that the gliss ends smoothly. In the second instance, the Db is played at the end of the sequence (to me the use of the slur indicates that the last note in the slide is not played separately). So I prefer the first instance.

If playback is not an issue, your could draw a gliss make up to C5 then one from C5 down to Db4. The reader will understand the directive. A customized wavy line might be preferred; since the phrase is unusual. I hope I understood what you seek.

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Re: portamento

Post by motet » Fri Sep 18, 2020 10:49 pm

Djard wrote:
Fri Sep 18, 2020 9:09 pm
IMHO, you would add a gliss. mark between each note for playback, since a true port. is not possible on piano (unless played at blinding speed).
"Portamento" has a different meaning for piano. It's not a glissando but rather semi-legato.

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Re: portamento

Post by musicus » Fri Sep 18, 2020 10:55 pm

I know that.
motet wrote:
Fri Sep 18, 2020 10:49 pm
Djard wrote:
Fri Sep 18, 2020 9:09 pm
IMHO, you would add a gliss. mark between each note for playback, since a true port. is not possible on piano (unless played at blinding speed).
"Portamento" has a different meaning for piano. It's not a glissando but rather semi-legato.

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Re: portamento

Post by Jay Emmes » Fri Sep 18, 2020 11:41 pm

Why draw a slur when you want the notes to be played detached?
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Re: portamento

Post by zuill » Fri Sep 18, 2020 11:46 pm

I would just put the notes with no markings and the indication "non legato". I know that staccatos with slurs has been used extensively for centuries.

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Re: portamento

Post by motet » Sat Sep 19, 2020 12:33 am

musicus wrote:
Fri Sep 18, 2020 10:55 pm
I know that.
motet wrote:
Fri Sep 18, 2020 10:49 pm
Djard wrote:
Fri Sep 18, 2020 9:09 pm
IMHO, you would add a gliss. mark between each note for playback, since a true port. is not possible on piano (unless played at blinding speed).
"Portamento" has a different meaning for piano. It's not a glissando but rather semi-legato.
I was addressing Djard.

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Re: portamento

Post by musicus » Sat Sep 19, 2020 12:46 am

There are many levels of "detached" in piano playing. Without the slurs it is staccato, very detached. Less detached - "portamento" - when there are slurs. You can see examples of this in Children's Corner (Debussy) - Serenade of the doll, meas. 1-2, and plenty of other examples. While not being a mathematically precise indicator, the slur/dot combination clarifies things a bit.
Jay Emmes wrote:
Fri Sep 18, 2020 11:41 pm
Why draw a slur when you want the notes to be played detached?

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Re: portamento

Post by musicus » Sat Sep 19, 2020 12:49 am

That's a reasonable option. I think I lean towards the slur/dot combo because it "looks" softer in articulation, but no markings all seems a bit naked to me. But I see your point.
zuill wrote:
Fri Sep 18, 2020 11:46 pm
I would just put the notes with no markings and the indication "non legato". I know that staccatos with slurs has been used extensively for centuries.

Zuill

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Re: portamento

Post by musicus » Sat Sep 19, 2020 5:50 am

On second thought I agree with you.
zuill wrote:
Fri Sep 18, 2020 11:46 pm
I would just put the notes with no markings and the indication "non legato". I know that staccatos with slurs has been used extensively for centuries.

Zuill

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Re: portamento

Post by Jay Emmes » Sat Sep 19, 2020 10:05 pm

You draw a slur to cancel the effect of the staccato dot. But why draw either when you want neither legato or staccato? Without either a slur or a staccato dot, the notes are to be played neither legato or staccato, which on a piano would be portamente. If you want to be absolutely sure (albeit superfluously so) you can add text as non legato e non staccato, as zuill suggested.
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musicus
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Re: portamento

Post by musicus » Sat Sep 19, 2020 10:12 pm

I think we are having a miscommunication here re staccato (very detached), legato (connected) and portamento (somewhere in between). Perhaps I am not understanding you.
Jay Emmes wrote:
Sat Sep 19, 2020 10:05 pm
You draw a slur to cancel the effect of the staccato dot. But why draw either when you want neither legato or staccato? Without either a slur or a staccato dot, the notes are to be played neither legato or staccato. If you want to be absolutely sure (albeit superfluously so) you can add text as non legato e non staccato, as zuill suggested.

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Re: portamento

Post by Jay Emmes » Sun Sep 20, 2020 10:52 am

You want your line to be played portato, which is neither legato nor staccato. Then why use notation which suggests both legato (the slur) and staccato[/i] (the dots)? Not drawing either means that the notes are to be played not connected as in legato, but also not as detached as in staccato.
The use of a slur over articulation (dots, dashes, etc.) is common for bowed strings, where the slur indicates the length of the bowing and the articulation the way of bowing (staccato, spiccato, martellato, etc.). On any other instrument the extra notation (slur, dot) would be unnecessarily confusing to me.

Only my two cents, of course, but be as concise and sparingly as possible when it comes to notation. All superfluous extras only lead to confusion.

As for the length of the slur you drew, it should reach over to the half note, otherwise the last quarter would be played staccato since it is connected to the previous quarter by the slur, but detached from the half. But, as said, both slur and staccato dots are best omitted for the line to be played portamente.
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Re: portamento

Post by David Ward » Sun Sep 20, 2020 12:54 pm

Jay Emmes wrote:
Sun Sep 20, 2020 10:52 am
… … …On any other instrument the extra notation (slur, dot) would be unnecessarily confusing to me.… … …
How would you choose to notate half-tongued repetitions of the same pitch on, say, the trombone (my own instrument)?
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Re: portamento

Post by Jay Emmes » Sun Sep 20, 2020 1:28 pm

Given the fact that wind players tend to (almost) tie repeated notes, I would draw a short flat horizontal line (—) above the note, indicating a non legato, thus canceling the (near) tying. Should you want the separation of the notes slightly wider than add a dot underneath the line (⨪). I would avoid slurs for trombones as much as possible, since they have a different effect than for any other instrument, as you know.

The notation of slurs in combination with dots, spikes or horizontal lines on any other instrument than bowed strings is food for confusion, in my opinion, since the slur indicates the opposite of the articulation sign. The dot, spike or horizontal line give enough variation of shortening a note in other ways than through note duration; there is no need for vague in-betweens by slurs over those articulations to soften the effect of them.

As said, just my opinion.

However, any notation is merely an indication of the composer's intention and should also leave enough room for interpretation.
Plus, the fact that there is discussion over how to notate what is desired, suggests that there is as much discussion on how to interpret the notation. If one is only satisfied with one exact execution of one's music, record it and don't notate it; it's the only possible correct execution after all — any other execution is redundant.
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Re: portamento

Post by RVS Lee » Sun Sep 20, 2020 2:17 pm

Yet another two cents...
I would have preferred tenutos under the slur, and interpreted them as a "semi-legato."
The issue is not with the note separation (implied by both stacc. and ten.) I would understand that to be modified by the slur (or vice versa.)
However, because the dot also requires shortening the note length, it directly contradicts the legato implied by the slur. I would have interpreted that to mean the slur should only affect the start and end of the phrase (achieved through variations in pulse and "weight".)
In contrast, the elongation required by the tenuto in combination with the slur actually reinforces the portamento effect.

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Re: portamento

Post by musicus » Sun Sep 20, 2020 3:19 pm

While I partially agree with you on potentials for confusion (hence so many different interpretations of classical music), I question your statement: "If one is only satisfied with one exact execution of one's music, record it and don't notate it; it's the only possible correct execution after all — any other execution is redundant."

First of all, it seems contradictory, in my opinion. "Any other execution" I take to mean a different execution. Then how could it be redundant? "Redundant" means "the same." (and by implication unnecessary)

Now let's go back a bit. Let's say you notated a composition. Then some time later you record it. But say your recording doesn't quite match your score in some details. You record it again a few years later, and it differs again from the original score. This happens often - just compare famous composers' own recordings with their scores.

On the other hand, let's say you record a piece that you haven't notated. And you are satisfied that the recording is an "exact execution." If you did want someone else to play your composition, how would they learn it?

As a pianist and composer, I want my music to be played by others, and I try to convey my ideas as clearly as possible, first on the score, and then on recordings. But I know that all interpretations will be different, including my own, regardless.

Regarding the slur/staccato issue, I see your point about avoiding clutter. At the same time, when, as a pianist, I look at someone's score and there is no indication at all - to avoid clutter - I say to myself "I don't know what the composer means." I see the notes, but that's all I see. That's not a good thing. I don't find the slur/staccato thing to be confusing at all. It's a common notation practice.
Jay Emmes wrote:
Sun Sep 20, 2020 1:28 pm
Given the fact that wind players tend to (almost) tie repeated notes, I would draw a short flat horizontal line (—) above the note, indicating a non legato, thus canceling the (near) tying. Should you want the separation of the notes slightly wider than add a dot underneath the line (⨪). I would avoid slurs for trombones as much as possible, since they have a different effect than for any other instrument, as you know.

The notation of slurs in combination with dots, spikes or horizontal lines on any other instrument than bowed strings is food for confusion, in my opinion, since the slur indicates the opposite of the articulation sign. The dot, spike or horizontal line give enough variation of shortening a note in other ways than through note duration; there is no need for vague in-betweens by slurs over those articulations to soften the effect of them.

As said, just my opinion.

However, any notation is merely an indication of the composer's intention and should also leave enough room for interpretation.
Plus, the fact that there is discussion over how to notate what is desired, suggests that there is as much discussion on how to interpret the notation. If one is only satisfied with one exact execution of one's music, record it and don't notate it; it's the only possible correct execution after all — any other execution is redundant.

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Re: portamento

Post by Anders Hedelin » Sun Sep 20, 2020 3:39 pm

Let's have the terminology right. What the OP clearly is referring to is "portato" not "portamento". Portamento (sliding between notes) is, as pointed out, impossible on a piano. Portato - detached, something between staccato and legato - is frequently used.

Traditional ways of notating portato is with staccati and slurs (which is quite logical, indicating something between the two), or with tenuto dashes, or sometimes even tenuto dashes and slurs (imitating the "louré" of strings, as a portato rather close to a legato).
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Re: portamento

Post by Anders Hedelin » Sun Sep 20, 2020 4:05 pm

The way of portato with staccati and slurs is that the slur always goes outside the dots. I've made some changes in your file to demonstrate that. The placements of staccati can be a little different in this case.
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Re: portamento

Post by musicus » Sun Sep 20, 2020 4:30 pm

I accept that. And I will add that if I see the slur/staccato combination (portato) it does not confuse me.
Anders Hedelin wrote:
Sun Sep 20, 2020 3:39 pm
Let's have the terminology right. What the OP clearly is referring to is "portato" not "portamento". Portamento (sliding between notes) is, as pointed out, impossible on a piano. Portato - detached, something between staccato and legato - is frequently used.

Traditional ways of notating portato is with staccati and slurs (which is quite logical, indicating something between the two), or with tenuto dashes, or sometimes even tenuto dashes and slurs (imitating the "louré" of strings, as a portato rather close to a legato).

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Re: portamento

Post by Anders Hedelin » Sun Sep 20, 2020 4:52 pm

The "non legato", as suggested by Zuill, is mainly typical for somewhat faster notes. With very fast ones it comes close to a staccato. Meaning that if you separate very fast notes they feel more like staccato than portato.

Meaning again that there is no sense in using dots and slurs on very fast sixteenths. To put it a little bluntly: there are two options only in this case - legato (slurs) or non legato (sort of staccato). Some performers maintain that all fast notes without slurs are to be played non legato. That may be debatable, by the way.
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Re: portamento

Post by Michel R E » Sun Sep 20, 2020 5:20 pm

Musicus: you might alternately consider using "détaché" as a text indication.

It is very precise - being neither staccato nor legato. It is also perfectly standard in piano notation.

I don't mind seeing the slurs with staccato articulations, though I find that type of notation a bit old fashioned.

Some suggested putting no marking at all, implying that this would mean "not legato", but as we know as keyboard players, the use of the pedal is ubiquitous, and having no slurs or articulations would not guarantee the absence of pedal either. The use of pedal would nullify any idea of "detached".

I would avoid the use of (as some here have erroneously suggested) tenuto articulations. Tenuto articulations imply also a sort of "quasi-accented" performance, not simply the duration aspect.
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Re: portamento

Post by Anders Hedelin » Sun Sep 20, 2020 5:49 pm

Michel R E wrote:
Sun Sep 20, 2020 5:20 pm
Musicus: you might alternately consider using "détaché" as a text indication.

It is very precise - being neither staccato nor legato. It is also perfectly standard in piano notation.
"Detachè" is a typical string term. It's not at all frequent in piano music.
Michel R E wrote:
Sun Sep 20, 2020 5:20 pm
I would avoid the use of (as some here have erroneously suggested) tenuto articulations. Tenuto articulations imply also a sort of "quasi-accented" performance, not simply the duration aspect.
The dash is an ambiguous symbol. It could mean tenuto, mild accent, or portato. I think this was already discussed in some detail on this or another forum, I can't recall where. I mentioned it simply because it's been used also as a sign for portato, by a number of composers.

And as so often with slippery terms - the context is all.
Last edited by Anders Hedelin on Sun Sep 20, 2020 5:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: portamento

Post by zuill » Sun Sep 20, 2020 5:54 pm

A lot of interesting discussion. What has always intrigued me over the years has been how different recordings are of classical pieces, where the artists are basically reading the same music with the same markings. My point is that whatever you put, chances are the performer will interpret what they see, and chances are, the outcome will vary greatly from artist to artist.

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