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Re: Apparently we are supposed to play everything half-speed [Re: Orange Soda King] #2903972 10/24/19 10:07 AM
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The debate here is whether every tick or 2 ticks (1 cycle of the needle) of the metronome is considered a beat. Since sound recording was not invented until the turn of the 20th century so we will never know with 100% certainty.

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Re: Apparently we are supposed to play everything half-speed [Re: thepianoplayer416] #2903987 10/24/19 10:28 AM
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Originally Posted by thepianoplayer416
The debate here is whether every tick or 2 ticks (1 cycle of the needle) of the metronome is considered a beat. Since sound recording was not invented until the turn of the 20th century so we will never know with 100% certainty.

But there is substantial evidence to the contrary.





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Re: Apparently we are supposed to play everything half-speed [Re: Orange Soda King] #2904023 10/24/19 12:08 PM
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I find it astounding that anyone would try to apply this method to Bach. The metronome wasn't invented until well after Bach died. Another internet commentator has suggested that Bach's tempi were based on dances. That makes much more sense because Bach wrote many dances, but not all Bach pieces have dance rhythms in them. Contemporary accounts refer to Bach's playing as amazing, which would indicate fast tempi not slow.

Re: Apparently we are supposed to play everything half-speed [Re: Orange Soda King] #2904057 10/24/19 01:08 PM
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It's interesting to note that in Winter's own examples of his theory, he has not chosen anything which already has very low metronome markings. others have though, with expected results. It's unclear if this will be dealt with later, or he just has not developed the part of his theory covering MM's that are already very low from the time period in question.


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Re: Apparently we are supposed to play everything half-speed [Re: Orange Soda King] #2904062 10/24/19 01:21 PM
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Something to think about: Scottish reels were notated in 2/2 time in the 18th century and started being played twice as fast in the 19th century for some inexplicable reason. The dancers kept the same pace of step, so essentially the musicians started working twice as hard. This is the reverse of what Wim Winters does.


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Re: Apparently we are supposed to play everything half-speed [Re: Steve Chandler] #2904116 10/24/19 04:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve Chandler
I find it astounding that anyone would try to apply this method to Bach. The metronome wasn't invented until well after Bach died.


The metronome in its current form, yes, but there are several previously invented devices. Most notably is the cronometer by Loulié in 1696 which in effect is a pendulum; Michel L'Affiliard in 1705 also used a pendulum and documented tempos based on this device. Then most usefull is the clockwork chronometer by D'Onzembray in 1735 which is an ancester of the metronome using a clock mechanism. He presented his invention at the French Royal Academy of Science in 1732 and he indicated the tempo for several compositions, including 13 dances by Lully. Based on this we have some ideas of the recommended tempos. Typically a Menuet would be played between 71 and 78 measures/mn, a gigue like in 6/4 would be between 50 and 58 measures/mn. All of these tempos are quite fast paced. The tempos could obviously be adjusted by a number of factors like the signature, the affect of the piece and the description of the movement (Grave, Allegro, ...).

Whether Bach knew of these inventions, we do not know but it is possible; in any case he did not leave any numerical tempo markings, probably because for him and his contemporaries that was quite obvious. But since most dances in Germany were copied from the french courts in Bach's time, we can assume in all likelihood that the tempos were quite similar.
.

Re: Apparently we are supposed to play everything half-speed [Re: Orange Soda King] #2904167 10/24/19 06:47 PM
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Ah yes, I love playing/listening to Beethoven slow movements at the painful MM of 25 to a quarter note...


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Re: Apparently we are supposed to play everything half-speed [Re: Orange Soda King] #2904192 10/24/19 08:22 PM
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The Beethoven concert of 22 December 1808 lasted four hours.

Modern performances of the written works add up to nearly three hours. Adding an interval, a piano extemporisation by the composer, and setting up time, applause etc. it would easily add up to four hours.

Had everything been played at half speed there would have been six hours of music, plus the interval and the extemporised piece, setting up time etc. And the Choral Fantasy had to be restarted.

This gives us at least some indication that what Beethoven meant by his tempo markings are somewhat consistent with modern interpretation. Had his metronome markings been meant as Winters suggests, I think it is safe to assume that his tempo markings would have differed from his metronome markings.

Also, Balakirev said that Islamey should last around 7 minutes. The metronome markings are consistent with this, and were approved by the composer for printing. Surely he understood the notation conventions of the time.

Last edited by johnstaf; 10/24/19 08:26 PM.
Re: Apparently we are supposed to play everything half-speed [Re: johnstaf] #2904193 10/24/19 08:25 PM
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Originally Posted by johnstaf
The Beethoven concert of 22 December 1808 lasted four hours.

Modern performances of the written works add up to nearly three hours. Adding an interval, a piano extemporisation by the composer, and setting up time, applause etc. it would easily add up to four hours.

Had everything been played at half speed there would have been six hours of music, plus the interval and the extemporised piece, setting up time etc.

This gives us at least some indication that what Beethoven meant by his tempo markings are somewhat consistent with modern interpretation. Had his metronome markings been meant as Winters suggests, I think it is safe to assume that his tempo markings would have differed from his metronome markings.

Also, Balakirev said that Islamey should last around 7 minutes. The metronome markings are consistent with this, and were approved by the composer for printing. Surely he understood the notation conventions of the time.

Has Winters banned you yet? wink


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Re: Apparently we are supposed to play everything half-speed [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2904194 10/24/19 08:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop

Has Winters banned you yet? wink


I expect his acolytes might track me down. grin

I have no problem with his idea in itself, but the method of argument reminds me of the Flat Earthers. When he provides rigorously examined evidence, I'm ready to listen.

Last edited by johnstaf; 10/24/19 08:33 PM.
Re: Apparently we are supposed to play everything half-speed [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2904196 10/24/19 08:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by Animisha
I think that when we play a piece, we should allow ourselves great liberties as to which tempo we use. There is no need to justify this by evidence. If I think a piece sounds best in a certain tempo, I'll play it in that tempo, unless of course a teacher demands otherwise. But once the teacher is satisfied, I play the piece in the tempo that I think is best. And I hope everybody else will feel the same freedom.

I just have a theory that some people feel guilty or feel bad that they cannot play a piece at the composer's tempo. They also don't like to think that the performers of the past, like Liszt, were so much better than they are now. Winters comes in and tells them, "don't feel back, actually you are playing it already faster than the composer intended!" And in fact, Chopin and Liszt were real slowpokes. This allows them to raise their heads high and not feel ashamed. Of course, they could quietly play a piece at any tempo they wanted, but I suspect this is more an issue of self-image than of practicality or musicality.


+1. I agree with Tyrone here.



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Re: Apparently we are supposed to play everything half-speed [Re: NobleHouse] #2904197 10/24/19 08:38 PM
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Originally Posted by NobleHouse
Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by Animisha
I think that when we play a piece, we should allow ourselves great liberties as to which tempo we use. There is no need to justify this by evidence. If I think a piece sounds best in a certain tempo, I'll play it in that tempo, unless of course a teacher demands otherwise. But once the teacher is satisfied, I play the piece in the tempo that I think is best. And I hope everybody else will feel the same freedom.

I just have a theory that some people feel guilty or feel bad that they cannot play a piece at the composer's tempo. They also don't like to think that the performers of the past, like Liszt, were so much better than they are now. Winters comes in and tells them, "don't feel back, actually you are playing it already faster than the composer intended!" And in fact, Chopin and Liszt were real slowpokes. This allows them to raise their heads high and not feel ashamed. Of course, they could quietly play a piece at any tempo they wanted, but I suspect this is more an issue of self-image than of practicality or musicality.


+1. I agree with Tyrone here.



On all the points he makes.



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Re: Apparently we are supposed to play everything half-speed [Re: Orange Soda King] #2904201 10/24/19 08:47 PM
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Dear me, that Beethoven makes me lose the will to live.

Re: Apparently we are supposed to play everything half-speed [Re: Orange Soda King] #2904296 10/25/19 04:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Sidokar

It is not so much that I disagree with his theory (which I do). I think most advances in any field start by someone having a non conventional approach which disturbs the common way of thinking. After all in the XIXth century the way most people would play Bach's music was radically different from what the new sholarship studies tells us nowadays. It is by putting in question these conventions that we progressed in our understanding.

What does bother me in his approach is that it is not based on an objective analysis. He is starting from his idea and selecting some arguments (partial) that are convenient to him but does not mention all of the surrounding context and all the other elements that would prove the exact contrary and there are many of them. So what bothers me is that he is positioning himself as a specialist and yet he lacks objectivity and therefore what I would call intellectual integrity. For a serious scholar, which he obviously is not, a question as complex as determining the historical tempo of these pieces (BTW subject that has been studied by many true serious scholars) can not be a simplistic answer such as "I divide the tempo indication by half and there it is" !


I could not agree with you more. There was also a long thread about this on reddit. I appreciated some of Wim's early performance videos until I listened to him speak- it was a video about Pachelbel's Ciaconne. I was immediately thrown back: it was an uncritical, copy-and-paste reciting of information from wikipedia, with a tone that lacked sharpness and passion, both scientific and musical. I never saw him the same way since, and when the Theory videos later started bombarding my youtube feed, I just could not take any of it seriously. These days it is easy to pose as a scholar, and many people will buy it. This is true in all fields. My university invited someone to give a semester-long seminar about Sleep and Regeneration to music students. Having read Matthew Walker's life-changing book, "Why we Sleep" (which I heartily recommend to any pianist or person), I decided to sign up. Twenty or so minutes into the first "lecture", the lack of scientific objectivity became evident. As someone with a medical background and who had studied Walker's book carefully, I could not take all the inconsistencies, inaccuracies and false conclusions, all presented with a flashy, my-product-will-change-your-life kind of business language. Later googling showed that this person is not a doctor or any kind of scientist, but an MBA who had started a sleep-consulting business. And the problem with such people is exactly what you pointed out- that they do mention a lot of true information, but they pick what they like and lack intellectual integrity. Because the motive is not love of knowledge, it is something else. Money, fame, success, maybe. And when that purity of essential drive is not there, I cannot trust the methods, the decisions or the outcomes. I have no problem with people sharing information with others, but to pose as a specialist (when you are worlds, worlds away from the hard work and the real research committed by specialists) is deception.

An important point made in the Reddit thread is the fortepiano and how much easier it is to play fast tempi, repeated notes, even wide tenths, on earlier instruments.

Last edited by Rania; 10/25/19 04:17 AM.

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Re: Apparently we are supposed to play everything half-speed [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2904342 10/25/19 07:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop

I just have a theory that some people feel guilty or feel bad that they cannot play a piece at the composer's tempo. They also don't like to think that the performers of the past, like Liszt, were so much better than they are now. Winters comes in and tells them, "don't feel back, actually you are playing it already faster than the composer intended!" And in fact, Chopin and Liszt were real slowpokes. This allows them to raise their heads high and not feel ashamed. Of course, they could quietly play a piece at any tempo they wanted, but I suspect this is more an issue of self-image than of practicality or musicality.


I so understand this feeling. I have felt it more than once for different pieces. Why does the speed for a piece need to be so quick.

In the end it is just me needing more skill which will be slow to come by. It is not even about just more practise on a specific piece.

For my submission for the upcoming ABF recital. I have a recording which is quite slow and plodding, manages the dynamics well, and mostly pretty accurate but it just lacks something. I have a second recording right at the expected speed, and where I do manage to keep it under control, keep it from being too muddy and give it dynamics the piece really shines and I love it. But there are bits I've missed adding dynamics and other places the notes just run into each other and it is muddy. In the end for this piece where I do get it right at the correct tempo it just makes such a difference to the enjoyment. I keep switching between the two recordings to use but I think the one at the correct tempo will win.

Re: Apparently we are supposed to play everything half-speed [Re: Orange Soda King] #2904402 10/25/19 09:27 AM
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An interesting (and I think relevant to this topic) intro by Valentina Lisitsa to her recording of Chopin Nocturne Op 27 # 2 D Flat Major. Also a rather nice bit of playing, btw.
Valentina Lisitsa - Chopin Nocturne Op27 No 2


regards
Pete
Re: Apparently we are supposed to play everything half-speed [Re: petebfrance] #2904759 10/26/19 12:49 PM
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Originally Posted by petebfrance
An interesting (and I think relevant to this topic) intro by Valentina Lisitsa to her recording of Chopin Nocturne Op 27 # 2 D Flat Major. Also a rather nice bit of playing, btw.
Valentina Lisitsa - Chopin Nocturne Op27 No 2


It was interesting reading Valentina's comments on this piece. And yes, it was a nice bit of playing.



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Re: Apparently we are supposed to play everything half-speed [Re: NobleHouse] #2904783 10/26/19 01:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
I just have a theory that some people feel guilty or feel bad that they cannot play a piece at the composer's tempo. They also don't like to think that the performers of the past, like Liszt, were so much better than they are now. Winters comes in and tells them, "don't feel bad, actually you are playing it already faster than the composer intended!" And in fact, Chopin and Liszt were real slowpokes. This allows them to raise their heads high and not feel ashamed. Of course, they could quietly play a piece at any tempo they wanted, but I suspect this is more an issue of self-image than of practicality or musicality.
Anything is possible, but I doubt many people feel this way. The idea of playing at half normal speed and being satisfied with performance like that or justifying it because of Winters' idea seems incredibly farfetched to me especially for someone who is ready to at least attempt advanced repertoire.

In terms of performers of the past vs. today's pianists, the general technical level of piano playing today is much higher than it was seventy years ago or in the 19th century. This does not mean there weren't some pianistic giants of the past who could hold their own or more with today's technical wizards, but today's general level of far higher.

Re: Apparently we are supposed to play everything half-speed [Re: Animisha] #2904789 10/26/19 01:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Animisha
I think that when we play a piece, we should allow ourselves great liberties as to which tempo we use. There is no need to justify this by evidence. If I think a piece sounds best in a certain tempo, I'll play it in that tempo, unless of course a teacher demands otherwise. But once the teacher is satisfied, I play the piece in the tempo that I think is best. And I hope everybody else will feel the same freedom.
I think that depends on what you mean by "great liberties". If a composer writes allegro that implies a certain tempo range but not andante or even moderato. Although there are always outlier examples, most of the great pianists play most pieces within a fairly narrow range of speed. I think any interpretation should be able to be justified by more than "I like the way it sounds that way".

Re: Apparently we are supposed to play everything half-speed [Re: pianoloverus] #2904796 10/26/19 02:05 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by Animisha
I think that when we play a piece, we should allow ourselves great liberties as to which tempo we use. There is no need to justify this by evidence. If I think a piece sounds best in a certain tempo, I'll play it in that tempo, unless of course a teacher demands otherwise. But once the teacher is satisfied, I play the piece in the tempo that I think is best. And I hope everybody else will feel the same freedom.
I think that depends on what you mean by "great liberties". If a composer writes allegro that implies a certain tempo range but not andante or even moderato. Although there are always outlier examples, most of the great pianists play most pieces within a fairly narrow range of speed. I think any interpretation should be able to be justified by more than "I like the way it sounds that way".

With "great liberties" I mean just that. The piece has been written, the composer has done their job, and now it is up to the pianist to play their interpretation of the piece.

Of course, if you try to make a living out of playing the piano, you may need to adjust to demands regarding tempo - just as you'll probably need to adjust to demands regarding choice of repertoire, and other aspects of interpretation. But if you don't get paid, if you don't do exams - play at the tempo that you think is best. The piece is yours.

I don't mean that you should just be lazy and play everything andante, only because it is easier. But if you think a piece sounds more interesting, or emotionally convincing, if you play it more slowly - or faster, please feel free to do so.


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