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What tempo should a Minuet-Trio be played at? #1154768
02/28/09 04:15 PM
02/28/09 04:15 PM
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Samuel1993 Offline OP
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Hi everyone. grin
Right now I am learning the entire Mozart Piano Sonata in A (K331). Just a question about the 2nd movt, which is played in Menuetto-Trio-Menuetto form... what speed should be played at? Whilst I have been learning it I've been playing it Moderato, should it be faster than this?


Currently working on...
Chopin - Fantasie Impromptu in C sharp minor Op.66
Mozart - Piano Sonata in E flat K.282
Liszt - Romance in E minor "O pourquoi donc" S.196
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Re: What tempo should a Minuet-Trio be played at? [Re: Samuel1993] #1154855
02/28/09 07:22 PM
02/28/09 07:22 PM
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Trev Offline
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I have always been one for letting a work find it's own natural speed and this principal I encourage in my syudents as well.

I suppose idealistically you are looking at something between 100 and 120 edging more towards the upper figure if anything.

When I was at college I had a teacher who always insisted on Mozart and Haydn minuet & trios being played at 112. He was convinced that the dance in it's day would have been at this speed in order for the participants to manage the accuracy and dexterity of the dance. It is a 112 the same speed as the saunter is danced nowadays in ballroom dancing. This speed for me has always worked and I feel it would also work for you - especially if you allow a variation of 10 percent or so if you feel the change of speed is justified. I wouldn't have thought you would go far wrong in aiming for 112-116 though.

Hope this has helped you out a bit.

Cheers


Trev the composer
Re: What tempo should a Minuet-Trio be played at? [Re: Trev] #1154949
02/28/09 10:17 PM
02/28/09 10:17 PM
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wr Offline
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Here's a link to the relevant info found in a recent performance practice book. It looks like the minuet started out as a fast dance, and then slowed down. And there's some controversy about how fast they should go today.

Re: What tempo should a Minuet-Trio be played at? [Re: wr] #1155021
03/01/09 03:00 AM
03/01/09 03:00 AM
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Have a look at Youtube. There are lots of groups out there performing baroque dances. I had no idea the footwork of the minuet was so intricate eg
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DsgCX0iwAOY&feature=related
Had always imagined it much more waltz-like. This may inform your choice of speed.

Re: What tempo should a Minuet-Trio be played at? [Re: Trev] #1155027
03/01/09 04:02 AM
03/01/09 04:02 AM
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RogerW Offline
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Originally Posted by Trev
When I was at college I had a teacher who always insisted on Mozart and Haydn minuet & trios being played at 112.

Did he assign exact metronome numbers also for other dances? How about waltz? Would be interesting to hear a tempo that works both for the minute valse and Sibelius Valse Triste...

Point is, even though the menuet is originally a dance, there is no definite tempo. Mozart and Haydn did not expect the audience to get up and dance when they get to the menuet of a sonata. Neither did Chopin when he wrote his walzes. So why should we consider the dance steps when choosing the tempo for a menuet any more than we consider the dance steps when choosing a tempo for Chopin's waltzes?

Just listen to the music and choose a tempo that you find appropriate. It's not only about the movement itself, but also how it fits in with the other movements. Don't stare too blindly at the figure on the metronome, just play it and give life to the music. Then you know you have found the right tempo.

Re: What tempo should a Minuet-Trio be played at? [Re: RogerW] #1155392
03/01/09 06:10 PM
03/01/09 06:10 PM
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Trev Offline
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In reply to RogerW the figure of 112 was recommended to me as a starting point.

My Teacher found that this speed worked for the minuet from this time. He also recommended that one should not be too rigid in this and to give yourself the freedom to move this tempo up or down to suit each individual piece.

There was not a tempo set for these dances when they were written as part of a sonata, it was more important to gain the character of the music, but there is nothing wrong with using a device that can suggest a speed that works wreather it was exactly the speed these classical masters used or not.

In further reply he used other set speeds for many dances but only insisted as using them as a starting point and to then move the tempo to suit each individual piece. This is laregely subjective so it is most important to arrive at the speed that you find most appropriate.

Cheers


Trev the composer
Re: What tempo should a Minuet-Trio be played at? [Re: Trev] #1155666
03/02/09 02:38 AM
03/02/09 02:38 AM
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Trev, I guessed that's how he said it, and I'm sure 112 might be a good starting point for many minuets, I just wanted to point out o the OP that there is no single answer to this question.

What makes a minuet a minuet is not the tempo, it's how you divide the bars into strong and weak beats. If you play it Strong-weak-weak - Strong-weak-weak... then it's not a minuet, it's a waltz. I believe the minuet should have a strong beat on the 2nd beat, which resolves to the 2nd beat in the next bar. Which leads to a strong beat on every second 2nd beat.

Re: What tempo should a Minuet-Trio be played at? [Re: RogerW] #1155700
03/02/09 06:38 AM
03/02/09 06:38 AM
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keystring Offline
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Roger, I wish I had had your answer a month ago. I think you hit it on the nose.

I explored minuets a while back with just that question in mind. I had a horrible edition that sought to turn a Bach Minuet (Anna Magdalena) into a dirge-like romantic piece ( ! ). It was impossible to play as written.

I finally turned to period dances for clues. All danced minuets were at a walking pace, had a strong underlying rhythm which emphasized the second beat. There is a kind of graceful dignified holding back, a light staccato in some:

minuet dance
minuet dance steps
My question is, how much of the character of the dance is still there when it is not a dance?

KS




Last edited by keystring; 03/02/09 06:41 AM.
Re: What tempo should a Minuet-Trio be played at? [Re: keystring] #1155735
03/02/09 08:21 AM
03/02/09 08:21 AM
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Performers' interpretations vary widely in Minuet-Trios, especially in the classical era when the form was becoming more stylized and less dance accompaniment.

I tend to advise students that most minuets work very well at a tempo that can be felt in 3 or 1. If it's clearly in 1, then it's too fast. If it's clearly in 3, then it's too slow. (It also has the benefit of being something you feel and not something you follow.)


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Re: What tempo should a Minuet-Trio be played at? [Re: keystring] #1155742
03/02/09 08:38 AM
03/02/09 08:38 AM
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Denver, CO
DragonPianoPlayer Offline
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Keystring and Roger,

I've been looking over the sections covering the Minuet in "Dance and the Music of J. S. Bach." (A book I picked up to try to get a feel for what is different about the different baroque dance styles.)

From what I am reading in this book, the Minuet is a dance of the following metrical structure:

Beats-pulses-taps: I-3-2

Which means there is one beat per measure broken into three pulses per beat and two taps (what the author considers the smallest note value typically used in the piece) per pulse. The dance is also typically performed in step units of two measures in contrast to the music. In the second video keystring posts, I can see the two measure pattern.

So, is the accent on the second beat or the even measures? In the first video I feel the meter as being one two three ONE two three - accent on the second measure not second beat. Is this just my interpretation? As a side note, this is also how I hear (and have played - rightly or wrongly) the Minuet in G Major attributed to Christian Petzold.)

I think this minuet example is even clearer on the accent on measure two:



Remember, also, that the waltz and minuet are from different musical periods and also, I believe, locations. (Minuet from France and waltz from Austria.) It is not necessary to use meter to distinguish between the two dances.

Rich

Last edited by DragonPianoPlayer; 03/02/09 08:40 AM.

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Re: What tempo should a Minuet-Trio be played at? [Re: DragonPianoPlayer] #1155748
03/02/09 08:56 AM
03/02/09 08:56 AM
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If you really want to get into it, there is an article somewhere on Internet where a cellist wanted to get to the bottom of this question. He interviewed a well known period dance instructor, and he played various minuets to which she commented. His playing was undanceable, but if he played according to her specifications, the music was unplayable or unpleasant as I recall. He concluded that whatever it is that he was playing was not meant to be played as the dance but had become stylized. He was left up in the air.

Earlier last year I was doing some first explorations of music history and looked up music from the periods as I went along. The music of the Renaissance (I think) was very rhythmic to a startling degree - something our young people might want to dance to. It makes sense that when the instruments were primitive, percussion would have a stronger role. I listened to the same genre when performed as a dance, and then people performing it on guitars, lutes, pianos etc. Some of the music was "dead". The playing that had substance to it had the feeling of the rhythm you get from the dancers and the percussion.

I wonder whether in our playing we need to have a "whisper" of the dance form but not necessarily in its complete form. I've also wondered whether it might be useful to learn to dance. wink

KS

Re: What tempo should a Minuet-Trio be played at? [Re: DragonPianoPlayer] #1155749
03/02/09 09:01 AM
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DragonPianoPlayer - How about the accompaniment that comes underneath as a clue of a relentless underlying rhythm. It's sort of "daDeeda / DUMP ..." It comes across the most strongly for me in the pizz'd section.

I'll have to read your theoretical explanation a couple of times to get its full meaning. It seems to make sense.

KS

Re: What tempo should a Minuet-Trio be played at? [Re: keystring] #1155771
03/02/09 09:42 AM
03/02/09 09:42 AM
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Keystring,

I think that is what I am interpreting as the accent on the second measure. As I am counting the music, it is always coming on a one, just a bit more accented on the "even" one's. I'd almost describe the music as being duple feel (hence the steps being of two measures length) overlayed on top of the single beats with clearly heard triple pulses. I think the latter is what Kreisler is commenting on as a minuet needs to be heard as both 3 or 1 metrical structure. Maybe it's just my overactive imagination this morning. LOL

From Kreisler's comments it might be hard to distinguish between the interpretation of the minuet in different periods. I'd have to add locations to that as well.

Rich


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Re: What tempo should a Minuet-Trio be played at? [Re: Samuel1993] #1156285
03/02/09 11:49 PM
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Hummel, who actually lived in the Mozart household for a time as a very young student, later did chamber arrangements of some of Mozart's symphonies, and included metronome markings. So you've got someone from Mozart's time with first-hand knowledge providing some clues about how fast these minuets go that I think should be pretty valuable (although I'd be the last to say they are any more than clues - there are too many variables for them to be definitive).

So, are you ready? Take a deep breath - these are all per bar settings for the minuets

Haffner - 66
Linz - 72
E flat, K 543 - 80
G minor, K 550 - 76
C major "Jupiter", K 551 - 88

Right speedy, and the dance reconstruction people would definitely have trouble keeping up. Czerny also published arrangements of these symphonies and gave many of the same metronome markings, although he did change the ones for K. 543 and K. 550 to 72, which seems to verify that these movements went very fast indeed by our standards.






Re: What tempo should a Minuet-Trio be played at? [Re: wr] #1156369
03/03/09 08:22 AM
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Let's see. If Haffner = 66 bpm per bar, and if a minuet is in triple meter, then this would be 66 X 3 = MM 198 = Presto?

Re: What tempo should a Minuet-Trio be played at? [Re: keystring] #1156716
03/03/09 06:42 PM
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Originally Posted by keystring
Let's see. If Haffner = 66 bpm per bar, and if a minuet is in triple meter, then this would be 66 X 3 = MM 198 = Presto?


It would be MM 198 if you were counting all three beats, but I think the idea would be that it was one beat to a bar. I was thinking a little about this last night, and realized that the shift from minuet to Beethoven's scherzo movements in the standard four movement symphony/sonata form seems like a more logical development if the minuets were pretty fast to begin with.

Here are some other assorted minuet infobits I came across while googling: in one contemporary description, it was said that Haydn and Mozart conducted their minuets "hurriedly". Some early Italian instrumental minuets were notated in 3/8 meter, which was often used for quick movements like gigues. By Mozart's time, there were really two different styles of instrumental minuet, the regular one that had no tempo marking, and a slightly slower one that would be marked "Allegretto".

I'm wondering if any of the current "historically informed" performances really try to go that quickly. But too, these metronome markings aren't for full orchestra versions, but for chamber (I think the Hummel was for piano quintet and the Czerny for piano 4-hands, but I'm not sure), so they might be a little faster than you'd expect for an orchestra.



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