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BWV 879 fugue rhythm -- 16ths #2935503 01/17/20 07:52 PM
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Pianists I've heard on line seem to play the below 16th note, A#, with the triplet C# in the left hand. It seems a bit fussy to play it as a true 16th note, so might as well play it using the triplet rhythm. But you might look at the score, it starts off with some quadruple 16ths.

How would you play it?

[img]https://www.dropbox.com/s/p2y18brrfheo5aj/2020-01-17%2016.34.44.jpg?dl=0[/img]

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Re: BWV 879 fugue rhythm -- 16ths [Re: RubberFingers] #2935618 01/18/20 06:22 AM
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It is a well known issue which has no definitive answer. The mix of triplets and dotted notes in baroque music and in particular Bach is calling for a different answer depending on each case. This is also reinforced by the fact that often dotted notes can be overdotted. Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach suggest to assimilate to triplets (but he is already part of a different musical culture) and Quantz recommends to play them as notated.

I have heard both versions. For this particular case, there seems to be a favor toward assimilation. Personally, going against the current, I prefer when it is not assimilated as it allows to keep the articulation, but it works within certain interpretative choices. The beginning is in pure duple time, so one might conclude that you would want to keep that melodic line and style most of the time (there are a couple of places where the assimilation makes sense though) including when there is a mix with triplets. That said you can go either way, what is most important is to make consistent choices with the way you choose to play the entire piece.

Re: BWV 879 fugue rhythm -- 16ths [Re: RubberFingers] #2936389 01/20/20 05:46 PM
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In the score snippet provided by the OP, I think the vertical alignment is strongly suggestive of “assimilation” that is, treating the 16th note as a triplet note aligned with the triplet, although the vertical alignment may be in the edition of the score but not the original manuscript.

I think with most baroque composers other than JS Bach, it generally is considered that assimilation is intended. I think because JS Bach was more advanced harmonically than other baroque composers, we are more likely or willing to consider more modern interpretations of the music.

I’m reminded of Claude Daquin’s Swiss Noel with Variations. It starts with dotted 8ths and 16th notes in both the melody voice and harmony, but in the middle section switches to triplets in the melody voice and the same figurations with dotted 8ths and a 16ths in the harmony voices are assimilated to triplets to match the melody.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=xzbnV5LjMus

At 1:52 the melody changes to triplets and at 3:18 back to dotted 8ths and 16ths. The same rhythmic notation is used in the harmony for both, but the melody dictates the interpretation of the rhythm of the harmony.


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Re: BWV 879 fugue rhythm -- 16ths [Re: RubberFingers] #2936796 01/21/20 03:51 PM
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Quote

Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach suggest to assimilate to triplets (but he is already part of a different musical culture)...

Expounding on that a bit more, JS Bach was of course CPE Bach’s father and music teacher, so we also would have to discount CPE Bach’s access to personal communication with his father regarding his father’s intention for the fugue. Given CPE’s “musical rebellion” to a different style, I would be more inclined to discount CPE based on musical culture if he were recommending going against the prevailing style and advocating for the use the 4x3 rhythm instead of the assimilated style.

On the other hand, Quantz knew both JS and CPE well, so his view is also hard to discount. This may be counterbalanced by the fact that Quantz was a flute player, and may have been advocating for more melodic freedom that would result from the decoupled rhythms.


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Re: BWV 879 fugue rhythm -- 16ths [Re: Sweelinck] #2936820 01/21/20 05:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Sweelinck


Expounding on that a bit more, JS Bach was of course CPE Bach’s father and music teacher, so we also would have to discount CPE Bach’s access to personal communication with his father regarding his father’s intention for the fugue. Given CPE’s “musical rebellion” to a different style, I would be more inclined to discount CPE based on musical culture if he were recommending going against the prevailing style and advocating for the use the 4x3 rhythm instead of the assimilated style.

On the other hand, Quantz knew both JS and CPE well, so his view is also hard to discount. This may be counterbalanced by the fact that Quantz was a flute player, and may have been advocating for more melodic freedom that would result from the decoupled rhythms.
[/quote]

I think CPE Bach was writing what he recommended for the music of his time and not necessarily what was relevant for his father music, which is quite natural. JS Bach sons were more attracted to the new music (In their time BAch was not recognized the way he is today). Some elements of course come from his education and certainly in large part apply to JS Bach as well, but others come from his own experience and from the influence of his time. It is not easy to make a distinction between the two. There are other cases where we know that the indications of CPE Bach are not in line with the practice of JS Bach. Typically the ornamentation is already different and is evolving toward something more adapted to the new style of sturm and drang or Galant.

That said it does not help us to make a formal opinion. In general the tendancy to have 2 against 3 was disapearing anyway and it is true that in baroque music most often assimilation is the reasonable way to go, including for Bach. It is when there is a clear melodic line above triplet bass that one can assume the intent can be to let the melodic line free (Mozart K296 for example).

There are also plenty of other theorists that wrote practice books which give various indications, Marpurg, Leopold Mozart, Mattheson, Türk, Agricola, .... Agricola in particular mentions that he supports Quantz view as JS. Bach was teaching it to his pupils. But others would support CPE Bach position like Marpurg.

All in all, nowadays there is no clear consensus among experts on the subject. For that reason the NBA does not take position. Some people strongly believe assimilation is intended in all cases and others are more balanced. In the case proposed by the OP, I see that there are opinions toward assimilation (not my choice though) and so I think it is perfectly viable to go that way.

Re: BWV 879 fugue rhythm -- 16ths [Re: RubberFingers] #2938474 01/25/20 02:34 PM
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I don't think it's fussy to play it as a 16th. - the rhythmic pattern leading up to that measure practically screams for consistency in this instance. Compare it to the later triplets in the piece where Bach does not use 16ths - methinks he is being clear in this piece overall.
Personally, I think it is fussy to adhere to writers who create rules demanding assimilation when other options make better musical sense given the score.

Re: BWV 879 fugue rhythm -- 16ths [Re: Mattardo] #2938495 01/25/20 04:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Mattardo
I don't think it's fussy to play it as a 16th. - the rhythmic pattern leading up to that measure practically screams for consistency in this instance. Compare it to the later triplets in the piece where Bach does not use 16ths - methinks he is being clear in this piece overall.
Personally, I think it is fussy to adhere to writers who create rules demanding assimilation when other options make better musical sense given the score.


A similar problem occurs in the Schubert Impromptu, Op. 90, No. 1, in C minor and in the third variation of the Impromptu, Op. 142, No 3. The opening of the Op. 90, No. 1, on the fourth beat, contains a dotted eighth-note followed by a sixteenth note over the same notation in the left hand. Later, however, the left hand has triplet eighth-notes while the right hand has the same notation as the original figure.

In the Op. 142, No. 3, variation three, the same occurs. Gieseking, in his editing of the Henle edition states:

[This notation] "raises the familiar Schubert question how the figure is to be printed and how it is to be played. [...] the printed text, which accords with the exact metrical value of the notes, is [...] not binding for the performance. The player must decide, according to tempo and expression, whether the sixteenth-note (semiquaver) is to be played with, or after, the third eighth-note (quaver). See also op. 90, No. 1."

Gieseking seems less concerned about adhering to the text and more about artistic licence; I am inclined in these two Schubert instances to be faithful to the printed text, particularly in the Op. 90, No. 1 where I feel one should not change the rhythm of the opening subject when it recurs.

Regards,


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Re: BWV 879 fugue rhythm -- 16ths [Re: RubberFingers] #2938499 01/25/20 04:16 PM
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When it comes to Bach, however, sometimes there may not be an option.

In the Courante of the Fourth French Suite, BWV 815, in 3/4 time, the right hand has predominantly triplet eighth-notes per beat against a dotted eighth-note plus a sixteenth note. At the tempo of a Courante, it would be extremely difficult and certainly overly fussy to try to play the left hand as written: i.e. after the third triplet note. This is a case where, editor Alfred Dürr (Bärenreiter Urtext) agreeing, writes:

"In the courante of the fourth French Suite BWV 815/2, eighth-note triplets and dotted rhythms are [...] present. Although it is an editorial principle of our new edition not to assimilate these rhythms notationally, it should be understood that the dotted rhythms should be performed as triplets."

Dürr seems to suggest that assimilation is expected throughout Bach's writing when this feature occurs; he doesn't isolate this instance and suggest assimilation because of tempo.

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Re: BWV 879 fugue rhythm -- 16ths [Re: RubberFingers] #2938559 01/25/20 06:40 PM
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In my original post, the picture is the Henle edition. They print the notes vertically aligned, so perhaps their editor thought they could be played together.

Re: BWV 879 fugue rhythm -- 16ths [Re: RubberFingers] #2938578 01/25/20 07:37 PM
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Originally Posted by RubberFingers
In my original post, the picture is the Henle edition. They print the notes vertically aligned, so perhaps their editor thought they could be played together.


It's an accepted convention in the performance of Baroque music, although not all scholars agree. As I mentioned earlier, tempo sometimes dictates that playing as written might be difficult or overly fussy.

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Re: BWV 879 fugue rhythm -- 16ths [Re: BruceD] #2938685 01/26/20 04:15 AM
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Originally Posted by BruceD


Dürr seems to suggest that assimilation is expected throughout Bach's writing when this feature occurs; he doesn't isolate this instance and suggest assimilation because of tempo.



Alfred Dürr provided additional comments on his editorial policy in the NBA.

“With regard to the triplet problem, two things have to be taken into consideration. The first is Bach own notation, and the second is the possibility of reproducing it in printed form. With regard to Bach’s own notation, much does in fact seem to suggest assimilation. The matter might be summarized as follows. Assimilation may often be deduced from the way the notes are written - and particularly from the way in which the editions that Bach himself saw into print arrange them. In the majority of cases, however, the written notes can be interpreted in more than one way, and they can never be seen as providing unambiguous proof of non-assimilation. “

Follows several examples where Dürr explains ambiguities and the fact that several interpretations are possible. He concludes:

“That notes should be assimilated seems plausible. The question of how they are to be assimilated seems to be so difficult in many cases that I am of the opinion that the NBA should not take a patronizing attitude in this matter. And so I believe that the best thing is still 1.Mathematical printing 2.Information in the preface. Only in this way can we educate performers to think for themselves, performers who are not at the mercy of the subjective decisions of a printed edition.”

This is one opinion of an expert. There are many others with various positions. The particular piece, tempo, main rythm and other circumstances, interpretative choices, drive the decision to assimilate or not.

Re: BWV 879 fugue rhythm -- 16ths [Re: BruceD] #2938705 01/26/20 07:21 AM
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Originally Posted by BruceD

A similar problem occurs in the Schubert Impromptu, Op. 90, No. 1, in C minor and in the third variation of the Impromptu, Op. 142, No 3. The opening of the Op. 90, No. 1, on the fourth beat, contains a dotted eighth-note followed by a sixteenth note over the same notation in the left hand. Later, however, the left hand has triplet eighth-notes while the right hand has the same notation as the original figure.


Heh heh if I didn't know any better I would say you were listening to me yesterday: I played through the Op. posthumous D946 and then Op. 90 Impromptus before the 4th Op. 90 reminded me of my forearm muscles. That one always wears me out by the end!

I think we agree on the Schubert.

That's a good example to use: I have always thought that the Op. 90, No. 1 should have a very short sixteenth note - Baroque in it's brevity, to use a quick description, and quite bouncy. I see no issue at all in playing it as a sixteenth, and even prefer it a bit faster according to my personal taste. If Schubert had wished assimilation, then why use an RH eighth note in measure 49 (on the final beat of the triplet) rather than a sixteenth? If that were the case, he could easily have written the previous notes as eighth notes.

Originally Posted by BruceD

In the Op. 142, No. 3, variation three, the same occurs.

A good example, and one in which I personally do not see a need to assimilate - I find that the sixteenth notes contrasts nicely to the passages in which an eighth note is used instead.

Originally Posted by BruceD
Gieseking, in his editing of the Henle edition states:

[This notation] "raises the familiar Schubert question how the figure is to be printed and how it is to be played. [...] the printed text, which accords with the exact metrical value of the notes, is [...] not binding for the performance. The player must decide, according to tempo and expression, whether the sixteenth-note (semiquaver) is to be played with, or after, the third eighth-note (quaver). See also op. 90, No. 1."

Gieseking seems less concerned about adhering to the text and more about artistic licence; I am inclined in these two Schubert instances to be faithful to the printed text, particularly in the Op. 90, No. 1 where I feel one should not change the rhythm of the opening subject when it recurs.

Regards,


That's well said - I think Schubert knew how a competent player would view those pieces.

I also feel that about the Bach fugue. At first glance, I think the rhythm is very clear - bouncy, dancish, however you want to describe it. This impression becomes even more clear when you deeply examine the structure of the fugue. Maybe it's me, but I don't see any need to assimilate sixteenths to eighths.
Now, your other example of the Courante from the French Suite - that depends on my mood. There are times in which I will assimilate the bass to the RH to give it a lilting or leaping quality. Perhaps I'm wrong, but my time spent with Couperin has pushed me in this direction with such pieces at times. I know Bach is not Couperin, but he was aware of his works and the peculiar rhythmic puzzles it presented to notation.

Re: BWV 879 fugue rhythm -- 16ths [Re: Sidokar] #2938706 01/26/20 07:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Sidokar


This is one opinion of an expert. There are many others with various positions. The particular piece, tempo, main rythm and other circumstances, interpretative choices, drive the decision to assimilate or not.


I think this is a good way of looking at it - the peculiar temptation to assimilate gets abused too much, in my opinion as a performer.

Re: BWV 879 fugue rhythm -- 16ths [Re: RubberFingers] #2938975 01/26/20 08:21 PM
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The Haydn Sonata in C major Hob. XVI:35 is another example. I’ve played it unassimilated, which is what is suggested in the score edition I have. I did however find an edition probably published around 1900 on IMSLP that was scored to suggest assimilation.


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Re: BWV 879 fugue rhythm -- 16ths [Re: RubberFingers] #2944579 02/09/20 06:54 AM
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Yesterday, I was playing through my birthday present of the Barenreiter Handel Keyboard Works, and came across a great example in the Allegro Fugue in Handel's 3rd Suite of 1720 IMSLP link. The theme has a very clear dotted rhythm, which is eventually notated without the dotted rhythm. Depending on the edition you are using, it is dropped at different times. Also depending on the edition you are using is whether the theme has multiple dotted notes.

My older Henle version has some editorial notes at the bottom discussing this interpretive problem in the Fugue.

I guess this forum only accepts urls for images, so I can't show any examples.


Last edited by Mattardo; 02/09/20 06:55 AM.
Re: BWV 879 fugue rhythm -- 16ths [Re: RubberFingers] #2944663 02/09/20 11:38 AM
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Mattardo:

Here's the opening measures of that Fugue from the Third Suite of Handel, your link to IMSLP score:

[Linked Image]

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Re: BWV 879 fugue rhythm -- 16ths [Re: BruceD] #2945074 02/10/20 09:43 AM
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Originally Posted by BruceD
Mattardo:

Here's the opening measures of that Fugue from the Third Suite of Handel, your link to IMSLP score:

[Linked Image]

Regards,


Ah, thank you for that! The main differences I find is that the theme initially has 2 dotted notes, then reduced to 1 dotted note and finally reduced to no dotted notes! To me, this suggests that the performer has several avenues of approach but that they all involve at least 1 dotted note in the recurrence of the theme and that one is probably best served to replicate the dotted note throughout the piece. Heck, even 2 dotted notes makes sense to me musically when I play it - even as far as extending that dotted pattern to developed 16th note figures that are not strictly the theme.

From a quick glance in the Henle edition, it seems to keep the initial dotted note in the theme until about measure 11. The first edition from Cluer and the 1730 edition do the same (the 1730 is a little easier to see).
1st Edition:
[img]https://drive.google.com/open?id=1z6lctay0eyYEiB7-LCaft8Nl6i6s1kf9[/img]

1730 Edition:
[img]https://drive.google.com/open?id=1z6lctay0eyYEiB7-LCaft8Nl6i6s1kf9[/img]

My Barenreiter drops the initial dot at measure 6:
[img]https://drive.google.com/open?id=1GNlSTKpzGORy8WikZgu58sUPKaTCloND[/img]

Henle gives the following footnote:
[img]https://drive.google.com/open?id=1AOLmg2fOz-iAuQYViZd2EtGWW961fJfv[/img]

while Barenreiter notes that the autograph also has "the dotting of the third note in the first appearance of the subject".

I have no idea why pictures don't properly show up when I post them!

Last edited by Mattardo; 02/10/20 09:47 AM. Reason: Checking pictures

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