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Re: How Fast is Allegro Moderato? #376547
03/22/08 01:52 PM
03/22/08 01:52 PM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 22,416
Victoria, BC
BruceD Offline
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Victoria, BC
Quote
Originally posted by Akira:
Bruce, what would you suggest to the person who is simply looking at the music, knows the time signature, but has no context for the music.

If I were transported back to those days before iTunes, YouTube, CD's, LP's and 78's and phonographs, television, radio, motorcars... er, well, in short, to a time not unlike that of my younger years, I would do as I do now if I don't have a teacher to consult.

Knowing, very basically, that Adagio is slow, Andante is a moderate tempo, Allegro is quite rapid and Presto is probably faster than I should even try to play, I would combine that knowledge with what I sense is the style of the writing, and add whatever aid the title of the piece might convey and take it from there.

I would use my own musical judgement, musical common sense, and construct my own interpretation - including tempo - on those bases, using whatever clues the score gives me to make what I would feel is a rationale for my interpretation. That doesn't mean that, as the piece grows and develops, I would not change my initial idea of the tempo - or other interpretive aspects - of the piece. Indeed, on occasion I have done that, where I've played something I've not played or heard before, where I don't have - or choose not to listen to - a recording of the work while I'm working on it. I would not want, however, to be bound by an arbitrary system of bpm's for each tempo designation, a system that might work a good percentage of the time, but could, on occasion, fight strongly against my musical judgment.

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: How Fast is Allegro Moderato? #376548
03/22/08 05:16 PM
03/22/08 05:16 PM
Joined: Nov 2007
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wr Offline
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Joined: Nov 2007
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Quote
Originally posted by Tony.S:
Tempo indications sure seem arbitrary don't they? Seems like a metronome number range written on the piece in question would be far more useful.
I don't think tempo indications are (usually) arbitrary at all. They point to something about the sense of the music the composer had in mind. Providing a range of possible metronome speeds is something composers have sometimes done in the time since the device was invented, but many have not (come to think of it, I think the majority of the major ones have not, which is telling). I think it is because they want the performer to determine the tempo, using the performer's own sense of how the music should go. In a way, it's almost funny, in this day of people piously mouthing the words "composer's intent" when discussing how to interpret, to consider that in much of the music we play, the composer gave far more weight to what you might call "performer's intent" than people today seem capable of understanding, and to that extent, they are actually going against the composer's intent.

And it is also important to remember something I don't think has been brought up yet in this thread, and that is that many performers will make changes in speed (sometimes fairly large ones) during the course of a work, and many composers expect that to happen. I think Beethoven, who was in favor of providing metronome marks during the later part of his career, pointed out that tempos fluctuate depending on the emotional temperature of the performance, which makes metronome marks useful only as a rough guide. But then, that puts the performer back in more or less the same position as they were with using just the tempo words, which is having no more than a rough guide.

Another thing affecting tempo are the actual conditions of the performance. Is the space reverberant? Is the temperature warm or cool? Are the instruments in good shape? Etc. etc. etc. Even the season can make a difference. For example, an "allegro vivace" movement outdoors on a balmy and humid summer evening is not going to feel the same as that same movement indoors on a snowy and cold winter night. It just doesn't, and the absolute speed as measured by a metronome won't and can't account for those types of variables.

Re: How Fast is Allegro Moderato? #376549
03/24/08 05:59 AM
03/24/08 05:59 AM
Joined: Jan 2006
Posts: 134
Washington, MO
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cjsm Offline
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Washington, MO
I've got a question that's related to this topic. Are Baroque pieces with titles like Presto and Prestissimo titles given by the composers, or are the titles given by some compiler, editor or publisher?

I'm thinking specifically of the Presto in C minor by Pescetti, from the Sonata in C minor, and the Prestissimo which is the third movement of the Sonata Op. 17, No. 2, by Johann Christian Bach.

Re: How Fast is Allegro Moderato? #376550
03/24/08 09:49 AM
03/24/08 09:49 AM
Joined: Jul 2005
Posts: 3,990
Haverhill, Massachusetts
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John Citron Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by cjsm:
I've got a question that's related to this topic. Are Baroque pieces with titles like Presto and Prestissimo titles given by the composers, or are the titles given by some compiler, editor or publisher?

I'm thinking specifically of the Presto in C minor by Pescetti, from the Sonata in C minor, and the Prestissimo which is the third movement of the Sonata Op. 17, No. 2, by Johann Christian Bach.
This is a very good question.

The answer is both. This depends upon the piece, and the edition that the music is published in.
The movment titles are probably just the directcion by the composer to evoke the feeling and tempo he felt the piece should move at, and the edition you use has decided to make that the title of the piece. I have an old Kalmus edition that does that with some very overly-edited Italian keyboard sonatas.

These editions also go through great lengths to "correct" notation and ornaments to reflect the taste of rhe Romantic and early 20th century tastes.

During the Baroque period, music directions, if they were spelled out were used to evoke the feeling of the piece and not just the tempo as they are today. In many cases, as in the case of a suite or particular dances, the performer already knew the tempo that piece was to be played at. The different dances are explained very nicely by Thoas Morley in his "Plaine and Easy Introduction to Practicall Musicke"

See: http://home.sprintmail.com/~cwhent/MorleyIntroduction.html

John


Current works in progress:

Beethoven Sonata Op. 10 No. 2 in F, Haydn Sonata Hoboken XVI:41, Bach French Suite No. 5 in G BWV 816

Current instruments: Schimmel-Vogel 177T grand, Roland LX-17 digital, and John Lyon unfretted Saxon clavichord.
Re: How Fast is Allegro Moderato? #376551
03/24/08 03:36 PM
03/24/08 03:36 PM
Joined: Mar 2007
Posts: 395
Enebyberg Sweden
R
Robert Kenessy Offline
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Joined: Mar 2007
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Enebyberg Sweden
What about Chopin's 1st Scherzo which most play around 120 per three quarters= 360 per quarter.
nothing is the 168-200 presto range there. I could go on for hours.


Robert Kenessy

.. it seems to me that the inherent nature [of the piano tone] becomes really expressive only by means of the present tendency to use the piano as a percussion instrument - Béla Bartók, early 1927.
Re: How Fast is Allegro Moderato? #376552
03/26/08 08:45 PM
03/26/08 08:45 PM
Joined: Jan 2006
Posts: 134
Washington, MO
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cjsm Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by John Citron:

The answer is both. This depends upon the piece, and the edition that the music is published in.
The movment titles are probably just the directcion by the composer to evoke the feeling and tempo he felt the piece should move at, and the edition you use has decided to make that the title of the piece. I have an old Kalmus edition that does that with some very overly-edited Italian keyboard sonatas.


John
Thanks. I see what you mean. The J.C. Bach Sonata is given the title Prestissimo in a compilation of various pieces I have, but in a book of his Sonatas. the Prestissimo is in small print like a normal tempo direction.

Quote
These editions also go through great lengths to "correct" notation and ornaments to reflect the taste of rhe Romantic and early 20th century tastes.
I've read that most Baroque composers didn't have any kind of tempo markings, e.g. J.S. Bach, which makes me wonder if these are editorial editions.

Quote

In many cases, as in the case of a suite or particular dances, the performer already knew the tempo that piece was to be played at. The different dances are explained very nicely by Thoas Morley in his "Plaine and Easy Introduction to Practicall Musicke"
That explains those classical dance pieces whose tempo seems to indicate they're to be danced at a frenzy rock 'n roll pace.

Re: How Fast is Allegro Moderato? #376553
03/26/08 11:17 PM
03/26/08 11:17 PM
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wr Offline
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wr  Offline
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Joined: Nov 2007
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Quote
Originally posted by cjsm:
I've read that most Baroque composers didn't have any kind of tempo markings, e.g. J.S. Bach, which makes me wonder if these are editorial editions.
I think Bach did give tempo markings sometimes, e.g., the Presto for the last movement of the Italian Concerto is his marking, as far as I know. Also, the second part of the the C# major prelude in my edition of WTC II has an indication of Allegro, which I think is Bach's.

Didn't Scarlatti gave most of his sonatas tempo markings, too? I think they are his. But I think it's generally a mistake to think those words would have meant the same thing to Scarlatti that they mean in, say, Prokofiev.

Re: How Fast is Allegro Moderato? [Re: Antonius Hamus] #1513966
09/12/10 08:04 PM
09/12/10 08:04 PM
Joined: Apr 2010
Posts: 2,496
Virginia, USA
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Andy Platt Offline
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Virginia, USA
Originally Posted by Antonius Hamus
There is an interesting website about Mozart's tempo indications, here:

http://www.mozart-tempi.net/

I'm not sure why people, other than me, never mention it here, and rather make long posts of their own. If there is something wrong with the information at the website, I would be interested to know.


I looked at it and my eyes glazed over. It's rather a dry academic read and, these posts - long though they might be - don't tend to be too dry. I suspect that's why not too many people would refer to it.


  • Debussy - Le Petit Nègre, L. 114
  • Haydn - Sonata in Gm, Hob. XVI/44

Kawai K3
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Re: How Fast is Allegro Moderato? [Re: John Citron] #1513987
09/12/10 09:09 PM
09/12/10 09:09 PM
Joined: Dec 2009
Posts: 6,651
Here, as opposed to there
stores Offline
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Joined: Dec 2009
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Here, as opposed to there
Originally Posted by John Citron

The harpsichord, we have to remember, can't be played as quickly as the pianoforte because of the nature of the action. There is little escapement (if you could call it that) with the action, and the playing technique requires very precise lifting of the fingers to allow the jacks to drop back into place. When the music is played too fast on the harpsichord, the sound is more like a noise box than music.


A well voiced harpsichord can be played appreciably faster than a modern piano. The problem is that "modern" pianists often have no idea about old instruments and old performance surroundings and play harpsichord music much faster than it actually would have been played at the time.



"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

♪ ≠ $

Re: How Fast is Allegro Moderato? [Re: Akira] #1514005
09/12/10 09:41 PM
09/12/10 09:41 PM
Joined: May 2005
Posts: 9,220
Phoenix, Arizona
Carey Offline
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Carey  Offline
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Phoenix, Arizona
Stores makes an excellent point here - but I just thought I'd note that this thread is 2.5 years old (March 2008). Some of the participants are still active on Piano World - and others are not.


Mason and Hamlin BB - 91640
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Re: How Fast is Allegro Moderato? [Re: Akira] #1514039
09/12/10 10:38 PM
09/12/10 10:38 PM
Joined: Dec 2009
Posts: 6,651
Here, as opposed to there
stores Offline
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Here, as opposed to there
Ah, didn't even notice that. I just saw the thread and read a bit. Guess I should pay closer attention, eh?



"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

♪ ≠ $

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