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Terraced dynamics? #1615651
02/08/11 09:06 PM
02/08/11 09:06 PM
Joined: Jan 2009
Posts: 844
Ohio
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survivordan Offline OP
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survivordan  Offline OP
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I am somewhat confused about "Terraced dynamics" as they apply to Baroque keyboard music. I sort of understand the concept, but would like to hear other's ideas about what they are and where to use them. What are they? What historical information do we have about them? How are they a part of Baroque performance practice today?


Working On:

BACH: Invention No. 13 in a min.
GRIEG: Notturno Op. 54 No. 4
VILLA-LOBOS: O Polichinelo

Next Up:

BACH: Keyboard Concerto in f minor
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Re: Terraced dynamics? [Re: survivordan] #1615771
02/08/11 11:34 PM
02/08/11 11:34 PM
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Victoria, BC
BruceD Offline
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... from good (?) ol' Wikipedia :

"During the Baroque period, the use of terraced dynamics was common. This meant a sudden change from full to soft, with no crescendo or decrescendo. The terraced dynamic was used for musical effect, to create an echo effect: a passage is played forte, then repeated piano as an echo. However, a major reason for the use of terraced dynamics is that the harpsichord, which was the principal keyboard instrument of the period, was incapable of gradations of volume. The harpsichord can be played either loud or soft, but not in between."

Does this help, for starters?

Regards,


BruceD
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Estonia 190
Re: Terraced dynamics? [Re: survivordan] #1615800
02/09/11 12:19 AM
02/09/11 12:19 AM
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San Jose, CA
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jeffreyjones Offline
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To change between loud and soft on a harpsichord, you have to either physically switch between keyboards, push a keyboard in or out, or activate some kind of stop. So like BruceD said, there are no fine graduations and what you get is limited by the capabilities of the instrument.

Re: Terraced dynamics? [Re: survivordan] #1615860
02/09/11 03:11 AM
02/09/11 03:11 AM
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Canada
Frozenicicles Offline
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Terraced dynamics was also used with instruments capable of producing fine gradations in volume, wasn't it?

Re: Terraced dynamics? [Re: survivordan] #1615867
02/09/11 03:31 AM
02/09/11 03:31 AM
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London, UK (though if it's Aug...
keyboardklutz Offline
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The Baroque idea was the louder you wanted it, the more instruments you added. It's my feeling they didn't play too loud in the first place - there is a dynamic where your instrument has the best tone, if you're really sensitive to tone you'll live there.


snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/

Re: Terraced dynamics? [Re: survivordan] #1615909
02/09/11 06:20 AM
02/09/11 06:20 AM
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Dorset, UK
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sandalholme Offline
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kk is right: Baroque practice was to add or subtract instruments (or stops in the case of harpsichords and organs) to vary the volume. The composers in the middle of the 18th century clearly wished for more subtle changes in volume, hence the invention of such devices as the Venetian swell to enable even the harpsichord to vary the volume gradually. (The fortepiano put paid to that) However, I do not believe that gradual increases or decreases in volume were completely absent before the 2nd half of the 18th century. The "Mannheim" crescendo - or more properly, crescendi, there are several types - indicates that extended crescendi were innovative at that time, but there are short phrases, endings of movements etc, where gradual changes in volume make musical sense in just about any sort of music.

Re: Terraced dynamics? [Re: survivordan] #1615930
02/09/11 07:31 AM
02/09/11 07:31 AM
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keyboardklutz Offline
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sandleholme's right. Baroque is a more human scale range of dynamics - think of the ups and downs in volume of your usual speaking voice. It's that subtle.


snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/

Re: Terraced dynamics? [Re: survivordan] #1616147
02/09/11 01:03 PM
02/09/11 01:03 PM
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Victoria, BC
BruceD Offline
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I don't disagree with what sandalholme and kbk have said that there may have been more subtleties of dynamics in Baroque music than is generally considered, certainly there is in modern interpretations of Baroque music. I'll just add that "terraced dynamics" - one of which was the echo effect - were also part of the Baroque performance practice, sometimes out of necessity.

Regards,


BruceD
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Estonia 190
Re: Terraced dynamics? [Re: survivordan] #1616263
02/09/11 04:04 PM
02/09/11 04:04 PM
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Ohio
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survivordan Offline OP
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survivordan  Offline OP
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Ohio
Thank you all for the help! I appreciate it.





Working On:

BACH: Invention No. 13 in a min.
GRIEG: Notturno Op. 54 No. 4
VILLA-LOBOS: O Polichinelo

Next Up:

BACH: Keyboard Concerto in f minor

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