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#1162246 - 03/13/09 09:59 AM Question about notation in Schumann's Träumerei
Larry B Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/03/09
Posts: 382
Loc: Boston
I heard a forum member's recording of Schumann's Träumerei recently and was entirely taken by it....and of course have been trying to learn it. There's something in the notation that puzzles me, though. (I'm new to classical piano, so there've been the occasional bits of notation that've been new to me...)

Here's the first few measures:

On the second beat of the first full measure, there's an F triad with an extra C on the bottom. The way it's written looks like the intent is to play the F and C with the RH and the bottom C and middle-of-the-triad A with LH - crossing fingers of one hand between fingers of the other. The way it seems natural to play it is the bottom C and F with LH and the A/C third with the RH.

Why is it written this way, and how do most people play it?

BTW...here is the link to the sheet music I'm working from.

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#1162271 - 03/13/09 10:53 AM Re: Question about notation in Schumann's Träumerei [Re: Larry B]
Studio Joe Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/28/07
Posts: 1803
Loc: Decatur, Texas
I think the reason is so the A can be held by the LH (as indicated by the tie) while the RH is free to play the following notes in in the treble clef.
Joe Whitehead ------ Texas Trax

#1162278 - 03/13/09 11:17 AM Re: Question about notation in Schumann's Träumerei [Re: Studio Joe]
ROMagister Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/26/08
Posts: 518
Loc: Bucuresti, Romania
Don't forget the Pedal sign (stylized P) - which allows notes to sound where the hand no longer is. So, in measure 2:
LH 2nd measure first beat, plays F2, then 2nd beat moves to add C3+A3 (while F2 is still sounding)
RH 1st beat F4, 2nd beat adds F3+C4 (yes, it seems interlocking fingers with LH), 3.5th beat plays the triolet.

The pedal is lifted very shortly right after measure 3, beat 1 (to erase the resonance memory) and kept pressed again just before playing beat 2 for the new phrase...

#1162284 - 03/13/09 11:42 AM Re: Question about notation in Schumann's Träumerei [Re: ROMagister]
lilylady Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/17/05
Posts: 4983
Loc: boston north
In a chord, the most important note is the third (middle note in the triad position). It signifies whether the chord is a MAJOR or MINOR chord.

In this instance the A is the third (middle note of the F triad) and it is more important to sustain that note rather than the root or the fifth (F or the C).

LB, you will find in a lot of classical music the fingers of both hands being intertwined. There usually is a reason... Composers don't make it more difficult on purpose! wink

Beautiful piece with lots of detail in it. Playing it is so much more than just the notes themselves.

"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything."

#1162296 - 03/13/09 12:08 PM Re: Question about notation in Schumann's Träumerei [Re: lilylady]
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4264
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
Hi Boston Larry,

Good question ... why would Schumann (with a bust hand) write
overlapping LH and RH chords within an octave spread? ... it
will be interesting to hear views from others ... but for my money I swop the mid-notes to make an A/C chord in the RH and C/F chord in the LH ... IMHO the same sustained sound.

The pedal spreading over the full first measure gives a clue as to the solid foundation upon which Schumann mounts his m1 dreamy RH 7, 1, 3, 5 (degrees of scale) ascent to the keynote F.

But strictly speaking the score calls for an overlapping of hands ... take your pick.

Can't agree with lilylady about the frequency of the overlap
or the fanciful accenting of mid-notes ... in this instance the score indicates that ALL the notes are sustained.

Edited by btb (03/13/09 12:21 PM)

#1162307 - 03/13/09 12:36 PM Re: Question about notation in Schumann's Träumerei [Re: btb]
lilylady Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/17/05
Posts: 4983
Loc: boston north
Rewrite what Schumann wrote?

You must be really good btb! wink (that's a wink smiley)

BTW, btb, I did not say that the midnote was 'accented', I explained the use of it here as to why it is the note to be held longer. If you look closely, the LH notes are held ONE BEAT longer notated with a tie.

As for notes intertwining...have you yet played Rach's PRELUDE 3/2?

HA! talk about tangled fingers!!!

"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything."

#1162313 - 03/13/09 12:55 PM Re: Question about notation in Schumann's Träumerei [Re: lilylady]
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
I am pretty sure most people would play the passage as written, i.e., with the thumbs overlapping. It's a device that Schumann employs fairly regularly, though it's not uncommon in music by other composers, too.

As to why notes would be distributed thusly, I think it's a matter of the composer's tastes and intentions. He may have felt that a slightly different sound would be achieved by such a voicing, and liked the esthetic of the crossing thumbs, too.

It's worth mentioning, though, that there other aspects of the notation here that cannot necessarily be played quite as written. Consider the duration of the notes, and the reach that would be required if they were to be held for their full values. A span of a tenth is required to play the left hand's part literally in this measure; a tenth would be required in the right hand, too, along with some very awkward fingering (i.e., playing the E-F-A with 4-5-5).

In reality, the notes aren't necessarily held as notated (here or elsewhere); it's taken for granted that pedaling will accomplish a comparable effect. For the right hand, in particular, it would be nearly impossible to execute the ascending phrase smoothly using a fingering that allows the F and C to be held through the measure with 1 and 2. Instead, the F/C are treated as half notes at most (instead of dotted halves) to free up the thumb and index finger.

I find it very frustrating when notation doesn't correspond precisely to manner of execution, especially where pedaling must be employed to fulfill the duration of notes or to simulate legato where these effects can't otherwise be achieved. Another example is when a note is played and held because of its duration, and later within the same measure the same note must be played again before the duration of the first occurrence has expired.

I'm mentioning these situations because they are all theoretical impossibilities that require workarounds as a practical matter. So if you encounter a chord, for example, that is impossible (or just uncomfortable) to play as written and you wish to redistribute the notes—and you think it sounds substantially the same—I don't see why you shouldn't. This assumes that you're playing for your own enjoyment, and that the piece isn't a technical study in which mastery of that uncomfortable element is the goal.


#1162320 - 03/13/09 01:10 PM Re: Question about notation in Schumann's Träumerei [Re: Studio Joe]
Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
Originally Posted By: jw7480
I think the reason is so the A can be held by the LH (as indicated by the tie) while the RH is free to play the following notes in in the treble clef.

That is exactly what I was going to say. smile And yes, that is why it's notated that way.
Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.

#1162484 - 03/13/09 08:35 PM Re: Question about notation in Schumann's Träumerei [Re: Horowitzian]
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4264
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
Good to be chatting lilylady,

You will have noted that the pedal marking includes the first beat of m2 of Traumerei ... it is therefore not possible to "un-sustain" the RH chord notes ... IMHO the copy-writers forget to match the tie of the left hand ... the broad chord foundation must continue under the dreamy RH ascent to climax
on F ... underwritten by the LH arpeggiated broken chord Bb, F, D.

Forgive being so bold, but even Beethoven scores can do with a little tidying of the score at times , to meet notation criteria ... as alluded to by sv.

Rachmaninoff preferred to score the opening of his popular Prelude 3/2 with overlapping hands ... he liked the use of octave chords ... but careful analysis reveals that the sight-reading of the opening measure chords can be simplified by swopping the touching notes ... to produce identical 3-note
chords in both hands ... eg the E, G#, C# is an easy spread for either hand ... sight-reading is eased by only having to read the RH and calling on the an auto-pilot LH ... the same notes are struck as scored ... but then not all of us have got the giant hand spread of Rachmaninoff .

Thanks for your experienced comment sv ... your view that the score does not always convey the correct interpretation of the music (notation shortfall)... and that it is sometimes necessary to juggle notes between hands to meet the comfortable fingering of individuals.

My students get a MIDI layout depicting the exact relationship of note patterns ... once the shape is clearly in the mind, sight-reading is eased ... for what it is worth here’s a diagram of the opening measures of Traumerei ... please forgive
the architectural approach.


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