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question about the 5/8 rhythm in "Zortzico" by Albeniz
#2820979 02/28/19 06:15 AM
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Hi all, I've already posted this question without much luck and I hope somebody here will manage to help me understand this.

I was casually scrolling through the score of Albeniz' op. 165 when I tried to mentally read the last work, Zortzico.

The piece is in 5/8 time and the left hand plays at each measure:

quaver - dotted quaver - semiquaver - dotted quaver - semiquaver.

What I found strange is that every single record I've listened to seem to play this in something closer to a 4/4, with the left hand going:

quaver - quaver - semiquaver - quaver - semiquaver

For reference, the recordings I listened to are by Baremboim and Alicia De Larrocha, and one guitar version (last piece in each link here below). What I hear sometimes is just some rubato, but it doesn't really feel like the dotted quavers are actually being held for their whole duration, so I hear more a 4/4 than a 5/8...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aleMQ5zBHLI

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uSD5lYcyxhY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJYAZC0wAnU

Is it just me hearing it wrong?

Or am I reading the rhythm incorrectly?

Re: question about the 5/8 rhythm in "Zortzico" by Albeniz
Kalos Piano #2820989 02/28/19 07:03 AM
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I only listened to the first link (Barenboim's) for the first minute or so, but I don't hear what you describe.

Try beating a regular quintuple time (you might need to practise it first), then play the video - slow the video down to half speed to make it easier - and beat time to it. Allowing for rubato (not that evident when the pianist is setting the pervasive rhythm at the start with just LH), you'll find that he's playing the rhythm indicated in the score.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: question about the 5/8 rhythm in "Zortzico" by Albeniz
Kalos Piano #2821024 02/28/19 09:33 AM
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Thanks for your reply Bennevis.
I've tried listening again but honestly, even if don't consider the rubato - so that it's not 4/4 - I still don't manage to count 5 eights.
If I count each quaver with my finger the "best" I manage to do is 4 quavers and a half, basically meaning 9/16. This is because, even assuming that the first dotted quaver is fully held, the last dotted quaver is not.
At least that's what it sounds like to me.
On the other hand, if I listen to the below, which is a crappy sounding - but mathematically exact - computer generated file of, I guess, a different zortzico with the exact same left hand pattern, I manage to count 5/8 without any problem.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-_R384nR8U

I suppose it's just the rubato messing up with my head. But if I had not listened to the recordings of the masters, I would have played this rhythm quite differently.

Re: question about the 5/8 rhythm in "Zortzico" by Albeniz
Kalos Piano #2821048 02/28/19 11:32 AM
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I don't know the history of this work, but from the Youtube video and the IMSLP score, there are two different versions of this work. That said, I don't have any trouble counting 5/8 - as long as I have the score in front of me. As bennevis suggested, the 5/8 rhythm becomes much easier to grasp if you slow down the video to half speed.

If I were to play this, I would initially ignore what I hear on recordings, at least until I had all the notes in my fingers and the rhythm - as written - firmly established. That is how I work on anything new that I study.

Regards,


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Re: question about the 5/8 rhythm in "Zortzico" by Albeniz
Kalos Piano #2821389 03/01/19 07:25 AM
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Thank you BruceD for you input.
I must say, even slowing the whole thing down, I am really surprised about how you manage to count the 5 eights.
The fifth beat sounds to me quite faster than the others, and I don't have the impression that it's just the rubato.
For comparison, found this other recording which is to me a "real" 5/8
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FqCPay-Wrqw
and also this one which is a different zortzico arranged for orchestra, where the 5/8 is very obvious:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-LYH6QhUW5o
weird how these sound to me as more correct than the ones from the great concert pianists.

Re: question about the 5/8 rhythm in "Zortzico" by Albeniz
Kalos Piano #2821468 03/01/19 11:19 AM
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The simpliest is to actually measure the time. On the first 5 measures in half speed of the second version: the duration is 3s55, 3s46, 3s38, 3s42, 3s55. The last 2 beats out of 5 should represent 40% of the time. I measured 1s38, 1s25, 1s11, 1s36 and 1s40 ie 38%, 36%, 33%, 40%, 40%.

I am not sure how you would actually measure only the 5ft beat and the accent is on the 2nd and 4th. Anyway seems like pretty the tempo is close to what it should be and at full speed all the minor differences are not audible.

Re: question about the 5/8 rhythm in "Zortzico" by Albeniz
Kalos Piano #2821831 03/02/19 08:29 AM
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Hi Sidokar, that's an interesting idea, although I'm not sure how relevant the actual time measurements can be with such an important use of rubato, which messes up all the measurements.
I tried doing the same with the first two measures (the ones with less rubato) using actual time instead of percentages in Baremboims recording and this is what I got:

both first and second measure: 1.7 secs

5/8: quaver + dotted quaver and semiquaver + dotted quaver and semiquaver

correct exact measures
quaver --> 1.7 / 5 = 0.34 secs
dotted quaver and semiquaver --> 0.68 secs

measure 1
first quaver: 0.5 secs
first dotted quaver and semiquaver: 0.635 secs
second quaver and semiquaver: 0.565 secs

measure 2
first quaver: 0.45 secs
first dotted quaver and semiquaver: 0.64
second quaver and semiquaver: 0.61

4/4: crotchet + crotchet + quaver + crotchet + quaver (in my first post I had erroneously written quaver - quaver - semiquaver - quaver - semiquaver)

correct exact measures in 4/4
crotchet --> 1.7 / 4 = 0.425 secs
quaver + crotchet + quaver --> 0.85 secs

measure 1
first crotchet: 0.5 secs
second crotchet: 0.47 secs
quaver + crotchet + quaver: 0.73 secs

measure 2
first crotchet: 0.45 secs
second crotchet: 0.48 secs
quaver + crotchet + quaver: 0.77


The final verdict is.... the first beat is way too long for a 5/8 and this was way too much work for this result smile

Re: question about the 5/8 rhythm in "Zortzico" by Albeniz
Kalos Piano #2821834 03/02/19 08:41 AM
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btw a guy on reddit gave me the link to this piano roll, which is exactly what I would have expected this rhythm to sound like:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MpGUjcw-Hkw

Re: question about the 5/8 rhythm in "Zortzico" by Albeniz
Kalos Piano #2821884 03/02/19 11:19 AM
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Well comparing with the de Larrocha version which is played much slower and with the added Rubato, I still do not see where your issue is...

Re: question about the 5/8 rhythm in "Zortzico" by Albeniz
Kalos Piano #2821959 03/02/19 01:38 PM
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well, my issue is that, at least in Baremboim's recording, the only way to count 5/8 is for the second note of the measure to fall slightly after the second beat.
If instead we consider the first two notes to fall both exactly on the beat (as it should be), then it's not a 5/8 time anymore.
The difference with the mathematical exact rhythm in the piano roll seems quite evident to me.

Re: question about the 5/8 rhythm in "Zortzico" by Albeniz
Kalos Piano #2821963 03/02/19 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Kalos Piano
well, my issue is that, at least in Baremboim's recording, the only way to count 5/8 is for the second note of the measure to fall slightly after the second beat.
If instead we consider the first two notes to fall both exactly on the beat (as it should be), then it's not a 5/8 time anymore.
The difference with the mathematical exact rhythm in the piano roll seems quite evident to me.

If you listen carefully to Barenboim for the first minute (played at half speed), you'll find that in some bars he's playing almost completely regularly at 5 beats to the bar.

At no time is it possible to beat 4 beats to the bar, as you claim, without chopping off half beats here and there.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: question about the 5/8 rhythm in "Zortzico" by Albeniz
bennevis #2821987 03/02/19 02:48 PM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by Kalos Piano
well, my issue is that, at least in Baremboim's recording, the only way to count 5/8 is for the second note of the measure to fall slightly after the second beat.
If instead we consider the first two notes to fall both exactly on the beat (as it should be), then it's not a 5/8 time anymore.
The difference with the mathematical exact rhythm in the piano roll seems quite evident to me.

If you listen carefully to Barenboim for the first minute (played at half speed), you'll find that in some bars he's playing almost completely regularly at 5 beats to the bar.

At no time is it possible to beat 4 beats to the bar, as you claim, without chopping off half beats here and there.


mmmm but what I did in my previous post was calculating the time length itself of each note in the first two measures.
I mean, with a calculator...

the second note (dotted quaver) of the first measure lasts LESS time than the first note (quaver) while instead it should last 1 time and a half as long as that. The second note in the second measure lasts just 0.03 seconds more than the first note, with a length of about 0.48 seconds while it should be about 0.675 seconds, i.e. 0.225 seconds more.

The only way you can count the 5 beats to the bar is by letting the second note of each measure fall a bit later then the second beat, which is incorrect as per the sheet both the first and the second note should fall on the beat.

It may not be 4/4 but I really don't see how you can count 5/8 without changing the length of the notes. I repeat cos it's very important and it's such an evident problem that I'm really surprised it's passing unnoticed: the second note (dotted quaver) of the first measure lasts LESS time than the first note (quaver) while instead it should last 1 time and a half as long as that. The dotted quaver is lasting less than (or, in other measures, just about as long as) the quaver!

Last edited by Kalos Piano; 03/02/19 02:58 PM.
Re: question about the 5/8 rhythm in "Zortzico" by Albeniz
Kalos Piano #2822020 03/02/19 03:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Kalos Piano

mmmm but what I did in my previous post was calculating the time length itself of each note in the first two measures.
I mean, with a calculator...

the second note (dotted quaver) of the first measure lasts LESS time than the first note (quaver) while instead it should last 1 time and a half as long as that. The second note in the second measure lasts just 0.03 seconds more than the first note, with a length of about 0.48 seconds while it should be about 0.675 seconds, i.e. 0.225 seconds more.


Have you heard of agogic hesitations?

He 'hesitates' before the second LH note (i.e. he elongates the first note) in a few bars to emphasise the dotted nature of the rhythm. But he doesn't do it in every bar. Even a casual musical listener will still grasp the quintuple nature of the piece's time.

Listen to this famous pianist playing a famous piece:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1PqnruPitzc

Are his accompanying triplets all metronomically equal? And listen to what he does with the tune......(and this is a classical piece, not late-Romantic).

Seriously, you should go listen to lots and lots of interpretations by great pianists, and get acquainted with the kind of expressive 'devices' that they use in their performances. Humans are not computers. Some play more freely than others, depending on the music too. Some kinds of 'rhythmic distortion' are almost universal in specific music, for example, Viennese waltzes, Polish mazurkas......

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1YFubxfXb0


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: question about the 5/8 rhythm in "Zortzico" by Albeniz
Kalos Piano #2822099 03/02/19 06:33 PM
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Playing on the duration of certain notes to accentuate the rythm is a very old technique. In baroque music for example it was already quite usual to play dotted or overdotted (Inequality), for example in a sequence of 4 quarters to accentuate 2 of them to give some liveliness to the rythm of the piece. That does not change the metre. And the time is recovered from subsequent notes. It was usually done in certain measures but not everywhere at the discretion and good taste of the performer. None of these were notated in the partition but decided by the well trained perfomer.

Re: question about the 5/8 rhythm in "Zortzico" by Albeniz
bennevis #2822290 03/03/19 09:14 AM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
Even a casual musical listener will still grasp the quintuple nature of the piece's time.


LOL, no, just no, Ask any random guy in the street without saying anything about the actual time signature in the score and a number close to 100% of the people will count a 4/4 without any problem with the first two notes falling on the first two beats.
A 4/4 with a slight rubato, of course, but still a 4/4.
I just don't buy that you don't manage to count a 4/4 with rubato when you say it's "clearly" a 5/8 but the only way to count 5/8 is to briskly accelerate after the second beat. Like, you have no problem with an extreme rubato in 5/8 but than a little rubato in 4/4 messes up with your head. I just don't believe it.

FYI, I'm perfectly familiar with the use of rubato in the moonlight sonata, in waltes and mazurkas and whatnot, and I already listen to several pianists without the need for you suggesting me to do so.

The difference with the rubato in the links you've provided is that, even when extensively used, it represents more the exception rather than the rule, and after taking into account the hesitations the rhythm can be reduced to a simple meter, 3/4 in the case of the mazurka, 4/4 in the case of the moonlight sonata.

In the case of the zortzico recordings, instead, a timing similar to the mathematically correct one (as in the piano roll) is found in the extreme minority of the measures, if at all (I really have a hard time finding a single measure where the dotted quaver lasts one and a half time the length of the quaver, and one where the second grouping of dotted quaver + semiquaver lasts as long as the first group).
And why would anyone even bother counting a 5/8 with a very elongated first beat when you can simply interpret it as a 4/4 with a bit of rubato and a very simple crotchet - crotchet - quaver - crotchet - quaver rhythm? I just don't get it. I'd say the easier rhythm should be privileged over the more complicated one.

For me the correct rhythm is the one in the piano roll and it's quite far away from the interpretation of the pianists I've posted. You justify it with the use of rubato, but for me the rubato here is used way too much, it becomes the rule rather than the exception and that way the rhythmic feel is completely lost. Apparently you disagree and have no problem counting a 5/8 with the first two notes falling on the beat. Let's agree to disagree.

Re: question about the 5/8 rhythm in "Zortzico" by Albeniz
Kalos Piano #2822315 03/03/19 10:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Kalos Piano
Originally Posted by bennevis
Even a casual musical listener will still grasp the quintuple nature of the piece's time.


LOL, no, just no, Ask any random guy in the street without saying anything about the actual time signature in the score and a number close to 100% of the people will count a 4/4 without any problem with the first two notes falling on the first two beats.
A 4/4 with a slight rubato, of course, but still a 4/4.

ROTFL.

Why would you just take the first two 'beats' of any piece of music you hear and assume that's the tempo for the rest of the piece? Lots of musicians 'ease' into pieces at the start, especially from the Romantic era. How many pianists start Rach 2 at the same tempo as they play the main theme?

Forget computers, just try beating 4/4 for a few seconds and see what you get. Do you know how to beat time?


Quote

In the case of the zortzico recordings, instead, a timing similar to the mathematically correct one (as in the piano roll) is found in the extreme minority of the measures.....

For me the correct rhythm is the one in the piano roll and it's quite far away from the interpretation of the pianists I've posted. You justify it with the use of rubato, but for me the rubato here is used way too much, it becomes the rule rather than the exception and that way the rhythmic feel is completely lost. Apparently you disagree and have no problem counting a 5/8 with the first two notes falling on the beat. Let's agree to disagree.

I'm getting the idea that you're far more used to computer & mechanical stuff than human-generated music.

You just keep harping on about "the first two notes falling on the beat", and now throw in "mathematically correct". That's exactly the way computers (MIDI etc) "play". Are we talking about real music, or computer-generated rubbish that adorn computer games? You obviously haven't listened to many human performances.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

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