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#2287006 - 06/07/14 02:15 PM A little musical demonstration ...  
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Baroque vs. modern

This may be a bit OT for a piano teacher's forum, but it could be interesting nonetheless. And it might offer some ideas for making recitals fun and informative at the same time.

My youngest put together a concert/talk with a wonderful "period instrument" musician in our area (Tom Marshall). In addition to explaining the differences between modern and period instruments, they also played Baroque works on both modern and period instruments. Here's a snippet:

This is two movements of a sonata by Josef Bodin de Boismortier. They play the first movement on modern piano and modern silver flute. Within this first movement they go back and forth between playing it in a drier and more detached Baroque style and a more contemporary legato/vibrato manner. That's quite obvious in the first sixteen bars. Eight are played Baroque and eight are played modern. Then they switch to harpsichord and Baroque flute for the second movement.




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#2287065 - 06/07/14 05:49 PM Re: A little musical demonstration ... [Re: Piano*Dad]  
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The Heart of Screenland
*Dad,

My ear is not good enough to tell. Are the period instruments at 415?


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will never need a friend.

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#2287130 - 06/07/14 09:27 PM Re: A little musical demonstration ... [Re: KurtZ]  
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Wow, huge pitch change. It it's the same sonata, it sounds as if they drop almost 1/2 step for the second movement. Perhaps there is that great a difference between modern A 4400 and the pitch of those older instruments.

Those old flutes are tough to play, I think, having to close all those holes with must fingers.


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#2287137 - 06/07/14 09:45 PM Re: A little musical demonstration ... [Re: Piano*Dad]  
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Kurt & Gary,

The harpsichord and baroque flute are pitched at A=415. And these are the last two movements of the same sonata in G.

At one point in the concert, I heard the audience actually gasp in recognition when they segued from modern flute to baroque flute very quickly. The pitch drop smacked them in the face. They had already been "lectured" about what to expect and about the history of rising pitch over the past few centuries.

The baroque flute is MUCH harder to control than the modern flute. The embouchure hole is tiny, and there is no mechanism to close holes completely. In addition, the keyless baroque flute forces the player into more difficult fingering. If you're used to the modern flute, you have to learn a lot of different fingering to play effectively on the period instrument. Often the same note can be played with multiple fingerings, and you choose based on small pitch differences between the various fingerings. Playing chromatically on a period instrument is not easy.

It's funny that his tone on the modern instrument has gotten worse over the past year. He just isn't playing it as much as he used to. smile

I thought the lecture/demonstration format worked very well. And the conversation wasn't just about the different instruments, though they had flutes from four different centuries. Tom also spent some time talking about how music was written and played in the early 17th century. He actually plays quite often from the equivalent of Baroque era lead sheets, improvising the accompaniment as he goes.

#2287161 - 06/07/14 11:29 PM Re: A little musical demonstration ... [Re: Piano*Dad]  
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Originally Posted by Piano*Dad
Tom also spent some time talking about how music was written and played in the early 17th century.

Do you mean the early 18th?


Regards,

Polyphonist
#2287259 - 06/08/14 08:32 AM Re: A little musical demonstration ... [Re: Piano*Dad]  
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Indeed. Slip of the tongue/pen.


#2287265 - 06/08/14 08:57 AM Re: A little musical demonstration ... [Re: Piano*Dad]  
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A series of related questions directed to the teachers.

Have you used recital time to:

a) explicitly explore the differences (technical and interpretive) between baroque, classical, romantic, and contemporary music.

b) used recital time to talk to the audience about those differences, instead of just programming the different styles/genres.

c) had your students do the talking instead!

d) invited your students to work on duets or small ensemble works with friends who play other instruments. There is so much good ensemble work out there that works beautifully in small spaces like a home studio, and getting students to work with peers can pay dividends.



#2287280 - 06/08/14 09:33 AM Re: A little musical demonstration ... [Re: Piano*Dad]  
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Originally Posted by Piano*Dad
A series of related questions directed to the teachers.

Have you used recital time to:

a) explicitly explore the differences (technical and interpretive) between baroque, classical, romantic, and contemporary music.

b) used recital time to talk to the audience about those differences, instead of just programming the different styles/genres.

c) had your students do the talking instead!

d) invited your students to work on duets or small ensemble works with friends who play other instruments. There is so much good ensemble work out there that works beautifully in small spaces like a home studio, and getting students to work with peers can pay dividends.

PD, to answer your questions straight up:

A. No. That's reserved for our lessons and performance classes.

B. I use program notes as needed; for the most part, getting teachers to even host recitals is a challenge. As I recall over the years, there have been a number of teachers even on this forum who don't "do" student recitals.

C. I try to minimize talking while maximizing performance during recitals. There are some, I'm sure, who are in love with their own voice. Pity the audience.

D. Yes, not only within the studio, but I've established a community wide Duet Fest for the express purpose of piano students into small ensembles.


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
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Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA
#2287365 - 06/08/14 02:37 PM Re: A little musical demonstration ... [Re: Piano*Dad]  
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Originally Posted by Piano*Dad
Indeed. Slip of the tongue/pen.

Or finger. grin


Regards,

Polyphonist
#2287445 - 06/08/14 06:14 PM Re: A little musical demonstration ... [Re: Piano*Dad]  
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Originally Posted by Piano*Dad
Kurt & Gary,

The harpsichord and baroque flute are pitched at A=415. And these are the last two movements of the same sonata in G.

I know about the incredible changes in pitch, but at that time I don't think any one pitch was standard. I meant to type 440, not 4400, and for the record a modern Ab is 415.3, tempered.
Quote

The baroque flute is MUCH harder to control than the modern flute. The embouchure hole is tiny, and there is no mechanism to close holes completely. In addition, the keyless baroque flute forces the player into more difficult fingering. If you're used to the modern flute, you have to learn a lot of different fingering to play effectively on the period instrument. Often the same note can be played with multiple fingerings, and you choose based on small pitch differences between the various fingerings. Playing chromatically on a period instrument is not easy.

In some ways it is like the older brass instruments. Even playing an F horn is harder than a modern double horn. The old valveless horns are truly risky business.


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#2287523 - 06/08/14 09:57 PM Re: A little musical demonstration ... [Re: Piano*Dad]  
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Gary,

Pitch did indeed vary all over the map literally. In one region, most musicians might use 415, while in the next town over it could be 420. The gentleman who crafted this flute, which is based on an extant example made by Carlo Palanca, also has models that are pitched at A = 392. By the later 18th century pitch was mostly A = 430. That might be the next flute we need to get. There is one that can be played at 430 or 440. A little gizmo adjusts between the two.

The audience really didn't know much about Baroque music, so the ones who cared actually learned quite a bit from the discussion between pieces. At least that was what I heard in the conversation afterwards. I'm sure there were some people for whom the information zoomed over their heads, and who would have preferred a more formal program.

BTW, since my eldest plays horn, I have seen those valveless horns at work. Quite a bit of work to hold a decent tone. And like the old flute, a horn (even a modern one) can play any given note with multiple fingerings. The best choice depends on the situation.

#2288023 - 06/10/14 10:18 AM Re: A little musical demonstration ... [Re: Piano*Dad]  
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Quote
C. I try to minimize talking while maximizing performance during recitals. There are some, I'm sure, who are in love with their own voice. Pity the audience.


John,

Makes perfect sense in many situations. If someone is giving a studio recital with 25 mostly young kids, blabbing on about music history in between each piece is a recipe for squirming kids and yawning parents. On the other hand, I can easily imagine a teacher programming a recital to explore some particular idea (the classical to romantic transition, for instance) and using a rather small amount of time (a couple of minutes) to educate the audience. This would work most effectively in a smaller recital that showcases a mix of students that includes some intermediate and advanced level players. Most audiences are composed -- pun intended -- of educated but relatively musically ignorant people. Many of them would indeed be interested in a small amount of information to help them make more sense of what they are hearing and why their young one has been studying a particular genre.

#2288030 - 06/10/14 10:52 AM Re: A little musical demonstration ... [Re: Piano*Dad]  
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John,

I applaud you for your Duet Fests. What a valuable addition to your local music community. I have a woman friend who is doing something like this in a salon setting in her home. At her last one I played a small (really small) baroque piano piece and then she accompanied on the piano while I played an alto recorder (at 440). The rest of the night was mostly strumming guitars and sing alongs but all is fair while having fun. It's most enjoyable to get together with a bunch of adult who really don't mind talking about music for a few hours at a stretch.

A music program called Simply Music of which we have two branches nearby emphasizes ensemble work at their recitals.

P*D, thanks for sharing. Being a fan of early music, I enjoyed hearing your son play.

Kurt



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