portamento

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Anders Hedelin
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Re: portamento

Post by Anders Hedelin » Sun Sep 20, 2020 6:06 pm

zuill wrote:
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.
Couldn't agree more. And that's part of the fascination of different interpretations.

Some piano composers write staccato and nothing more, when it's evident (for most) that there should be some pedalling. Some write staccato and pedal. That surely wouldn't feel the same way without the staccato!
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Re: portamento

Post by motet » Sun Sep 20, 2020 6:14 pm

This sort of thing is fairly common in wind writing. The whole thing is slurred, but the line indicates a soft tongue on the repeated note rather than tieing the two Cs.

It's often seen where their brethren don't have repeated notes.
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Re: portamento

Post by Anders Hedelin » Sun Sep 20, 2020 6:23 pm

That's interesting. Would you say that this is different, or less common?
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Re: portamento

Post by musicus » Sun Sep 20, 2020 7:09 pm

I agree - thank you for that.
Anders Hedelin wrote:
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 motet » Sun Sep 20, 2020 7:19 pm

Anders Hedelin wrote:
Sun Sep 20, 2020 6:23 pm
That's interesting. Would you say that this is different, or less common?
What you wrote is different, because the D (treble clef) would be articulated. Starting the slur on the previous note and putting the legato line only on the first note would be closer. But if you wanted the slurs to match in all the instruments playing there, where some don't have repeated notes, they I think mine would be preferable.

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Re: portamento

Post by Anders Hedelin » Sun Sep 20, 2020 7:54 pm

motet wrote:
Sun Sep 20, 2020 7:19 pm
But if you wanted the slurs to match in all the instruments playing there, where some don't have repeated notes, they I think mine would be preferable.
That's a point of course.
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Re: portamento

Post by Michel R E » Sun Sep 20, 2020 11:53 pm

Anders Hedelin wrote:
Sun Sep 20, 2020 5:49 pm
"Detachè" is a typical string term. It's not at all frequent in piano music.

as a pianist, I've come across the term frequently enough to consider it unambiguous, and certainly cannot describe it as "not at all frequent".
It more than likely depends on the period of music you are performing.
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Re: portamento

Post by Djard » Mon Sep 21, 2020 3:37 am

If Finale honored slurs in playback then we could compare the sound with what we wrote and correct any discrepancies.

I was taught to write what I hear; but such practice often results in unnecessary clutter and difficult-to-read passages. In an imperfect world, some credit for intelligence is best left to the reader/performer. Who knows? An inexact interpretation might end up enhancing the music.

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Re: portamento

Post by motet » Mon Sep 21, 2020 4:03 am

Unless you're performing a Conlon Nancarrow piano roll, the performer always has an influence.

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Re: portamento

Post by Jay Emmes » Mon Sep 21, 2020 11:12 am

musicus wrote:
Sun Sep 20, 2020 3:19 pm
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.
True, if there are indeed no indications at all whatsoever in the entire score. I assume that's highly unlikely. You do not wish all notes of the entire piece to be played portato. A line without a slur demands a different way of playing than a line with a slur. When there are no staccato dots on any note of that line, how is that line to be played then? Obviously not legato or staccato, which leaves the in-between: portato.

__________

It's the right and the obligation of any musician to interpret the notes provided by the score. And thank any superior being for that. I would hate to hear the exact same execution of any piece every time it is played in the concert hall; I'ld rather buy a cd. Isn't the fact that the same score can and will be interpreted in many different ways exactly the charm of 'classical' music, much as a theatrical play?
Sure, the composer tries to notate as closely as possible to what she or he imagines, but never try to micromanage everything. First of all, you will not succeed anyhow, because —as you see— there is always discussion what exactly is written, and secondly it will kill everything that brings live to music: interpretation.
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Re: portamento

Post by musicus » Mon Sep 21, 2020 2:22 pm

Jay Emmes wrote:
Mon Sep 21, 2020 11:12 am
musicus wrote:
Sun Sep 20, 2020 3:19 pm
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.
I was referring to the slur/staccato thing (portato) when I said that the lack of indication would leave me baffled. However, when one looks at Bach's WTC, there are very, very few indications other than the notes themselves. And so we have numerous interpretations. I agree with your general comment.

True, if there are indeed no indications at all whatsoever in the entire score. I assume that's highly unlikely. You do not wish all notes of the entire piece to be played portato. A line without a slur demands a different way of playing than a line with a slur. When there are no staccato dots on any note of that line, how is that line to be played then? Obviously not legato or staccato, which leaves the in-between: portato.

__________

It's the right and the obligation of any musician to interpret the notes provided by the score. And thank any superior being for that. I would hate to hear the exact same execution of any piece every time it is played in the concert hall; I'ld rather buy a cd. Isn't the fact that the same score can and will be interpreted in many different ways exactly the charm of 'classical' music, much as a theatrical play?
Sure, the composer tries to notate as closely as possible to what she or he imagines, but never try to micromanage everything. First of all, you will not succeed anyhow, because —as you see— there is always discussion what exactly is written, and secondly it will kill everything that brings live to music: interpretation.

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Re: portamento

Post by motet » Mon Sep 21, 2020 3:51 pm

When you quote someone and then respond to them, type your response outside the <quote></quote> tags. Otherwise, you can't tell the quoter from the quotee. If you want to respond to only part of it, edit out the chaff.

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Re: portamento

Post by musicus » Mon Sep 21, 2020 4:01 pm

I appreciate that. I am very bad about this, I guess I never took the time to learn how to do it. It seems to complicated for my simple mind.
motet wrote:
Mon Sep 21, 2020 3:51 pm
When you quote someone and then respond to them, type your response outside the <quote></quote> tags. Otherwise, you can't tell the quoter from the quotee. If you want to respond to only part of it, edit out the chaff.

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Re: portamento

Post by motet » Mon Sep 21, 2020 4:26 pm

There--you did it.

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Re: portamento

Post by Anders Hedelin » Mon Sep 21, 2020 4:44 pm

It's interesting, and in the line of different interpretations, that Haydn used vertical lines for detached, portato notes (here from a so called Urtext edition where the vertical lines have become very thin wedges):
Haydn - detached notes.PNG
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In a 19th century edition these lines had mistakenly changed into the symbol for accentuated staccato:
Haydn - misunderstood detached notes.PNG
Haydn - misunderstood detached notes.PNG (33.37 KiB) Viewed 648 times
Admittedly the signs look somewhat similar, but how different the interpretation!
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Re: portamento

Post by motet » Mon Sep 21, 2020 4:50 pm

Those were used as staccato marks in the day. Mozart used them, too.

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Re: portamento

Post by Anders Hedelin » Mon Sep 21, 2020 4:53 pm

Maybe so, or, as I've heard, as just detached. The point was that they didn't mean accentuated staccato at the time.
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Re: portamento

Post by musicus » Mon Sep 21, 2020 6:03 pm

I don't know...as a pianist I look at both versions and to tell you quite frankly, I would shrug. There's the notes and there's the articulation marks. The combination of the two is what I see, rather than the slight difference (IMO) between those articulation marks. The bigger difference occurs with the repeated G-sharps that follow.
Anders Hedelin wrote:
Mon Sep 21, 2020 4:44 pm
It's interesting, and in the line of different interpretations, that Haydn used vertical lines for detached, portato notes (here from a so called Urtext edition where the vertical lines have become very thin wedges):
Haydn - detached notes.PNG
In a 19th century edition these lines had mistakenly changed into the symbol for accentuated staccato:
Haydn - misunderstood detached notes.PNG
Admittedly the signs look somewhat similar, but how different the interpretation!
Anders Hedelin wrote:
Mon Sep 21, 2020 4:44 pm
It's interesting, and in the line of different interpretations, that Haydn used vertical lines for detached, portato notes (here from a so called Urtext edition where the vertical lines have become very thin wedges):
Haydn - detached notes.PNG
In a 19th century edition these lines had mistakenly changed into the symbol for accentuated staccato:
Haydn - misunderstood detached notes.PNG
Admittedly the signs look somewhat similar, but how different the interpretation!

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Re: portamento

Post by Jay Emmes » Mon Sep 21, 2020 6:27 pm

There's another interesting aspect in this discussion that imo went by all to quickly: language.
Should we continue the usage of very confusing words that in music often don't even carry the meaning anymore that they have linguistically?

As we have seen here there is a huge difference in the musical meaning of the words portato (carried) and portamento (by carrying), although both words are declensions from the same verb: portare (to carry). I assume the meaning of the words has drifted apart with musical practice shifting through the ages or in remote regions, but both terms make good for confusion only nowadays.

Portamento can indicate a legato so tight that it creates a glissando between two notes (also: portando or portare la voce) or it indicates an execution between legato and staccato, slightly detaching notes in a line.
Portato is simply a "A type of bowstroke" in the New Grove or 1) to play in a sustained, lengthened or drawn-out manner, also 'slurred' or 'articulated' legato or 2) a musical articulation midway between staccato and legato in the Dolmetsch.
Same verb, contradicting meanings. Go figure.

I would like to advocate the discontinuation of the use of such confusing terms.
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Re: portamento

Post by Anders Hedelin » Mon Sep 21, 2020 6:40 pm

Jay Emmes wrote:
Mon Sep 21, 2020 6:27 pm
I would like to advocate the discontinuation of the use of such confusing terms.
They are not confusing for non-academic musicians. The informed part of them knows perfectly well what nowadays is meant by either term.
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Re: portamento

Post by musicus » Mon Sep 21, 2020 7:03 pm

"Very confusing words..." Yes, Beethoven had the same idea when he started to use metronome markings to a greater degree. And the publishers - who are middle men - can add to the confusion. And let's not forget composers too, who, after all, are human and prone to error.

Not to create a new topic here, but I'd love to know what tempo Beethoven actually wanted for his moonlit sonata. (1st mvt.)... :-)

But to answer your initial question, even though I believe that words have meaning in all discourses, and that they should be chosen thoughtfully, I am strongly against the "discontinuation" of confusing terms, because how does one do that other than through coercion? I can see, e.g., discontinuing a certain item from the grocery. But if I truly want that item enough, I will find a way to get it or make it.
Jay Emmes wrote:
Mon Sep 21, 2020 6:27 pm
There's another interesting aspect in this discussion that imo went by all to quickly: language.
Should we continue the usage of very confusing words that in music often don't even carry the meaning anymore that they have linguistically?

As we have seen here there is a huge difference in the musical meaning of the words portato (carried) and portamento (by carrying), although both words are declensions from the same verb: portare (to carry). I assume the meaning of the words has drifted apart with musical practice shifting through the ages or in remote regions, but both terms make good for confusion only nowadays.

Portamento can indicate a legato so tight that it creates a glissando between two notes (also: portando or portare la voce) or it indicates an execution between legato and staccato, slightly detaching notes in a line.
Portato is simply a "A type of bowstroke" in the New Grove or 1) to play in a sustained, lengthened or drawn-out manner, also 'slurred' or 'articulated' legato or 2) a musical articulation midway between staccato and legato in the Dolmetsch.
Same verb, contradicting meanings. Go figure.

I would like to advocate the discontinuation of the use of such confusing terms.

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Re: portamento

Post by David Ward » Mon Sep 21, 2020 7:09 pm

Jay Emmes wrote:
Mon Sep 21, 2020 6:27 pm
… … …(also: portando or portare la voce)… … …
Portare la voce is a vocal technique that I usually notate as shown. Every singer with whom I've worked has understood that there is a suggestion, but not too much, of glissando implied.
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Re: portamento

Post by Jay Emmes » Tue Sep 22, 2020 11:49 am

Anders Hedelin wrote:
Mon Sep 21, 2020 6:40 pm
They are not confusing for non-academic musicians. The informed part of them knows perfectly well what nowadays is meant by either term.
Obviously they are. When music dictionaries list (very) different meanings for a single musical term, it cannot be but confusing to anyone. We see people use different symbols for the same desired effect; how can there not be confusion? You mentioned earlier a different meaning for portamento than I did. I assume we both are academically trained in music; you are informed, I am informed — confusion was't avoided.
musicus wrote:
Mon Sep 21, 2020 7:03 pm
But to answer your initial question, even though I believe that words have meaning in all discourses, and that they should be chosen thoughtfully, I am strongly against the "discontinuation" of confusing terms, because how does one do that other than through coercion?
Through agreement. No one needs to be coerced into anything, but we could agree to start a new habit. Any (r)evolution has to start somewhere, somewhen. Why not here, why not now?
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Re: portamento

Post by Anders Hedelin » Tue Sep 22, 2020 2:16 pm

Among all the performing musicians I've encountered in my life, many of them very well educated, I've often found a certain reluctance to look too deep into dictionaries. What works in the practical communication among - educated - musicians is considered good enough. No need to split hairs. To go deeper into the meaning of universally understood terms just to question them may seem a bit inexperienced and out of touch with reality.

There are so many more important things to focus on in music making, than creating a new-speak for how to go about it.
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Re: portamento

Post by zuill » Tue Sep 22, 2020 2:26 pm

Years a go I had a very talented genius piano student who would report to me often as to what composer he had been communicating with each week (Schubert, Mozart, etc.). I think we should all do the same and then we could ask them how to perform their music, and not have to sweat over what the notation shows.

Although my student believed he had those conversations (and who's to say he didn't), I am kidding, of course, in suggesting we all do that. I am, however, suggesting we all dig deep and, from our experience, trust our intuition and training to determine how we interpret compositions. Unless a composer has recorded a precise demo, we don't always know what was intended. Technique has evolved due to changes in the instruments over the centuries. Playing harpsichord works on the piano requires an entirely different approach. In addition to that, if we compare various editions of works, we often see different ways things are notated. In earlier times, hand manuscripts could vary, leaving us with the task of trying to determine which is the most authentic. Even the absence of dynamics in earlier editions doesn't mean we should play everything without any expression.

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