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rhythm vs beautiful sound/overall effect.
#3011173 08/07/20 12:08 PM
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tricky topic this but,

what would you prefer,
a performance full of life, beautiful 'magic' sound and subtle nuances and over all effect on a high level with some minor ish rhythm in accuracies vs

a performance where the rhythm is 100 percent spot on but the overall playing is dull and uninspiring, sound is plain and lifeless.

maybe depends on the piece but why is sometimes rhythm the most important thing when perhaps how beautiful it actually sounds is perhaps the most important thing when it comes down to it.
surely if it sounds good, then it is good?

everyone plays the same piece differently so does that mean that everyone is technically playing bits 'wrong' otherwise everyone would sound the same?

Last edited by daoc2009; 08/07/20 12:09 PM.

Daoc2009
Re: rhythm vs beautiful sound/overall effect.
daoc2009 #3011187 08/07/20 12:46 PM
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Last summer at piano camp, I heard a young man in his late teens play Clair De Lune in the most original and beautiful way. His rubatos and dynamic changes were not strictly what the score said, but I found them to be very pleasing. I felt like he was showing us his secret heart and I was very touched. The master class teacher was very critical of his somewhat unconventional playing and I could see he was crestfallen. I pulled him aside after class and told him how beautiful I thought his playing was. I also advised him to play strictly according to the score when he is being evaluated but to continue playing in his personal, beautiful and expressive way when performing. I'd hate to see this wonderfully talented young man strangled by convention.


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Deborah
Re: rhythm vs beautiful sound/overall effect.
daoc2009 #3011188 08/07/20 12:50 PM
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I think that you have given two hypothetical extremes whereas most of our listening experiences from amateur performers would fall somewhere in between. One may have a preference towards "beautiful" performances and with appropriate rubato accounting for what you call rhythmic inaccuracies.

On the other hand, many world-class professionals will give performances that are not only "beautiful" but will also be rhythmically accurate.

That said, then, I don't understand that I need to choose between your two extremes.

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: rhythm vs beautiful sound/overall effect.
BruceD #3011194 08/07/20 01:03 PM
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Originally Posted by BruceD
I think that you have given two hypothetical extremes whereas most of our listening experiences from amateur performers would fall somewhere in between. One may have a preference towards "beautiful" performances and with appropriate rubato accounting for what you call rhythmic inaccuracies.

On the other hand, many world-class professionals will give performances that are not only "beautiful" but will also be rhythmically accurate.

That said, then, I don't understand that I need to choose between your two extremes.

Regards,
Exactly, kind of like choosing between a performance filled with wrong notes or a performance at half speed but without wrong notes.

Re: rhythm vs beautiful sound/overall effect.
daoc2009 #3011195 08/07/20 01:05 PM
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If I had to choose, the beauty of the sound (the magic) would take precedence. That being said, two interpretations of the score will never be identical even with the same overall note rhythm: I.e., a crescendo is in the score. How much? Exactly when to start it etc can be subject to variation. The tempo is ‘allegro’: that still leaves room for decisions. And then there is rubato which is open to interpretation and variation. How much do you emphasize the melody? . Do I roll the chord? The list of variations is endless while still faithful to the intent of the composer.

A fun exercise is to take one piece and listen to a few top notch pianists play it. Read the score while they are playing and note the variation.


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
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Re: rhythm vs beautiful sound/overall effect.
daoc2009 #3011224 08/07/20 02:16 PM
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There's a Bernstein clip where he discusses such issues, and this isn't it. But it's similar...



In the one I'm thinking of, he said that small rhythmic liberties (in addition to larger decisions about tempo), which interrupt the strict time, represent tension and release, the shape of the melody, breathe life into the music, and so forth. They are part of your understanding of the composer's intent (and not only will, but should, differ from performer to performer).

But don't get it all entirely wrong. 😁 (That's me talking, not Lenny). You can't completely discount "tradition" (handed down teaching shifting over time) as far as "how something goes."


WhoDwaldi
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Re: rhythm vs beautiful sound/overall effect.
daoc2009 #3011246 08/07/20 03:17 PM
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Originally Posted by daoc2009
tricky topic this but,

what would you prefer,
a performance full of life, beautiful 'magic' sound and subtle nuances and over all effect on a high level with some minor ish rhythm in accuracies vs

a performance where the rhythm is 100 percent spot on but the overall playing is dull and uninspiring, sound is plain and lifeless.

What does it mean, "spot on"

If a robot/midi sequencer plays the piece, it's technically spot on but it's a useless kind of spot on

If someone plays with a great swing, he's also spot on but in a different way that is much more interesting

In general, I always seek for the performance that captures my attention in a positive way. I don't really care if it's rhythmically accurate or subtle nuances. It's in what the performer brings, not where he got it from.


But 'dull' would never cut it I guess so I would take the first option.


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Re: rhythm vs beautiful sound/overall effect.
daoc2009 #3011257 08/07/20 03:36 PM
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Except in a small number of rhythmically challenging pieces, being rhythmically correct is not difficult. Another reason the posed question, even as a purely hypothetical one, makes little sense to me. A completely false choice.

Incredibly good except for poor rhythm vs. incredibly bad except for perfect rhythm? Just a choice of evils that doesn't occur in real life. If someone has good rhythm but is poor in other areas, they should work on the other areas.

Re: rhythm vs beautiful sound/overall effect.
daoc2009 #3011364 08/07/20 09:31 PM
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This is all very relavant to what im learning right now. I have listened to quite a few versions of Clair de Lune and they ALL vary. The best version (in my opinion) is actually very varied and definitely to the players taste.

So, in my opinion, it's all down to preference. Personal at that. If you're being evaluated then perhaps it be best to follow it to the score. But, if its your performance, then its YOUR performance.

As a bluegrass/country singer and banjo player. I hear all the time "thats not now Earl played it" "thats not how Tony sung it" however, these comments usually only came from "purists" so to speak. The further away we strayed, the more acclaim we got and actually thats what we ended up being known for.

The best players in the world (in the bluegrass community) are completely original and do things their own way. Perhaps we can compare between the two genres?


If your work speaks for itself, then perhaps don't interrupt it?
Re: rhythm vs beautiful sound/overall effect.
daoc2009 #3011369 08/07/20 09:45 PM
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Kg
Seems like you might be a Debussy fan ( or maybe you just like Clair de Lune)
Anyway, I love this website because it has Debussy’s thoughts on his style
Debussy method .

I book-marked at tempo/rubato but there are other topics on the right

Re: rhythm vs beautiful sound/overall effect.
dogperson #3011375 08/07/20 09:56 PM
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Originally Posted by dogperson
Kg
Seems like you might be a Debussy fan ( or maybe you just like Clair de Lune)
Anyway, I love this website because it has Debussy’s thoughts on his style
Debussy method .

I book-marked at tempo/rubato but there are other topics on the right

Haha I am slightly! Thank you for the link! smile

I actually, as I've got older started leaning more on the Debussy style/period. The music just takes me back to a happy place of mysticism that feels so detached from any other kind of music that helps me... meditate?! I don't know what I'm trying to say but it's somewhere along those lines. No, I don't smoke the funny stuff haha


If your work speaks for itself, then perhaps don't interrupt it?
Re: rhythm vs beautiful sound/overall effect.
daoc2009 #3011384 08/07/20 11:23 PM
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Depends on the music. If you are playing a piece with an ensemble or other musicians, your rhythm would be locked in with other people. Otherwise you lose the sense of harmony. Back in my school days, my music teacher got the school band (15 people) to play a Bach fugue. In some places we were 2 bars off from each other but we managed to end at the same time.

If you're playing solo, you can stretch the beat of the R melody line and the L accompaniment would follow accordingly. As long as you know the sequence of notes and how the L & R sync together, the counting problem is not as noticeable.

Re: rhythm vs beautiful sound/overall effect.
thepianoplayer416 #3011409 08/08/20 02:16 AM
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Originally Posted by thepianoplayer416
Depends on the music. If you are playing a piece with an ensemble or other musicians, your rhythm would be locked in with other people. Otherwise you lose the sense of harmony. Back in my school days, my music teacher got the school band (15 people) to play a Bach fugue. In some places we were 2 bars off from each other but we managed to end at the same time.

If you're playing solo, you can stretch the beat of the R melody line and the L accompaniment would follow accordingly. As long as you know the sequence of notes and how the L & R sync together, the counting problem is not as noticeable.


Making a conscious decision that rubato is appropriate based on the score is one thing; to not know how to count and assuming it won’t be noticeable is quite another. Knowing how to count and maintaining the pulse of the music is critical and failures will always be noticeable. You can’t hide it.


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
"I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

It's ok to be a Work In Progress
Re: rhythm vs beautiful sound/overall effect.
Kgbow #3011444 08/08/20 07:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Kgbow
This is all very relavant to what im learning right now. I have listened to quite a few versions of Clair de Lune and they ALL vary. The best version (in my opinion) is actually very varied and definitely to the players taste.

So, in my opinion, it's all down to preference. Personal at that. If you're being evaluated then perhaps it be best to follow it to the score. But, if its your performance, then its YOUR performance.

As a bluegrass/country singer and banjo player. I hear all the time "thats not now Earl played it" "thats not how Tony sung it" however, these comments usually only came from "purists" so to speak. The further away we strayed, the more acclaim we got and actually thats what we ended up being known for.

The best players in the world (in the bluegrass community) are completely original and do things their own way. Perhaps we can compare between the two genres?
There is a huge difference between classical and bluegrass/country. Every non classical performance is a cover and major liberties with the original are common and acceptable. Those liberties can include the notes and rhythm. In classical music, the amount of acceptable liberty is generally smaller. Rarely are notes changed except occasionally in some pieces like a Liszt Rhapsody. Same for the rhythm. Rubato is acceptable but changing the rhythm is not OK. Of course, a few pianists, even some good ones, may play with such extreme rubato that it comes close to changing the rhythm but this is rare.

Re: rhythm vs beautiful sound/overall effect.
daoc2009 #3011489 08/08/20 09:51 AM
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WhoDwaldi and dogperson tell you about the nuance you should be looking for: there is some room for interpretation on the precise details, of rhythm/tempo/dynamics etc., and hence there is a need for performers rather than midi. The rhythm should be substantially correct, but once it is, there are various rubatos that might be appropriate. We seek the music, not the score.

Again, look to hints for dogperson and WhoDwaldi on what to look for there.
--------------------------------------

But I must confess, as a touchy amateur, that I genuinely prefer the magical incorrect option to the mechanically perfect one.

Perhaps I am being self-justified: I feel like I stand a better chance of being type 1 (and yet very bad at playing) somehow, than of being rhythmically perfect and dull.

But in honesty, the very fact that I've disproportionately practiced sounding how I like in music, and that I practice rhythm much less than I should, suggests I do prefer 1 over 2. The fact I don't drill myself on perfecting something doable shows, to some extent, that that is not what I value most.

--------------------------------------
Of course, in classical music, we are more demanding of actually playing right, but

suppose someone did have a professional level of 'magic' in their playing, with a decidedly unprofessional level of obliviousness to correct notes or of willful idiosyncrasy, etc. That could be -interesting- too, no? Such an imbalance, at such a high level.

Re: rhythm vs beautiful sound/overall effect.
daoc2009 #3011519 08/08/20 10:49 AM
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See this is so interesting to me. My old music lecturer (was concert pianist in his day) Tends to now (when I was in music college) be all about "self expression" Play it the way YOU like it. On the other hand, he also said never to mess with rhythm when it came to Bach. hahaha.


If your work speaks for itself, then perhaps don't interrupt it?
Re: rhythm vs beautiful sound/overall effect.
winterflower #3011547 08/08/20 12:02 PM
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Originally Posted by winterflower
But I must confess, as a touchy amateur, that I genuinely prefer the magical incorrect option to the mechanically perfect one. That's a completely false choice that no pianist has to choose between them. All professional pianists today play with correct rhythm because I think you are incorrectly assuming that correct rhythm means no rubato.There were some pianists from say before around 1920 who played with such extreme rubato that by present day standards some would say they played with incorrect rhythm. But that's a thing of the past.
Perhaps I am being self-justified: I feel like I stand a better chance of being type 1 (and yet very bad at playing) somehow, than of being rhythmically perfect and dull. Rhythmically correct doesn't mean dull or metronomic. You don't have to choose between the two approaches.

But in honesty, the very fact that I've disproportionately practiced sounding how I like in music, and that I practice rhythm much less than I should, suggests I do prefer 1 over 2. The fact I don't drill myself on perfecting something doable shows, to some extent, that that is not what I value most. If you can't play with correct rhythm when you want to that should be practiced IMO. None of the the winners of the Chopin Competition played metronomically or without rubato but they all played with correct rhythm.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 08/08/20 12:03 PM.
Re: rhythm vs beautiful sound/overall effect.
dogperson #3011719 08/08/20 07:13 PM
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Originally Posted by dogperson
Making a conscious decision that rubato is appropriate based on the score is one thing; to not know how to count and assuming it won’t be noticeable is quite another. Knowing how to count and maintaining the pulse of the music is critical and failures will always be noticeable. You can’t hide it.

Agree 100%.

Re: rhythm vs beautiful sound/overall effect.
daoc2009 #3011723 08/08/20 07:19 PM
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I think often the rhythmic offenses are not intentional, not rubato, not interpretation. It's actually bad playing, can't count properly. With this kind of bad rhythm, the performance cannot be beautiful.

There is a right rhythm that the music demands which is not the computer played rhythm. Poor rhythm is just offensive to the ear but rubato sounds fine. With rubato, the duration of the whole piece is not changed. The listener "keeps score": if you alter the rhythm by slowing here, you need to speed up there, to make up for it and make the listener whole.

Re: rhythm vs beautiful sound/overall effect.
wszxbcl #3011817 08/09/20 05:53 AM
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Originally Posted by wszxbcl
With rubato, the duration of the whole piece is not changed. The listener "keeps score": if you alter the rhythm by slowing here, you need to speed up there, to make up for it and make the listener whole.
I don't consider this idea valid at all. The simplest example would be a piece where one has very little or no rubato until the end where one slow down. There's no place to make up the lost time. IMO it's not reasonable to think that a pianist is keeping track of how much time he has added or subtracted and must make up the time gained or lost by the end of the piece.

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