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#2750921 07/12/18 08:15 AM
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Some time ago I was invited to make a public performance together with a mezzo-soprano. For this occasion we studied French songs, mostly by Faure, and in addition I played some short solo pieces (Bach, Debussy and Poulenc). The concert went live about a month ago, and for an amateur performance I think it went ok. This was really fun, and since then I have reconsidered my practice plans and choice of music. We agreed that we should continue the cooperation, and therefore I have decided to learn more art songs. Currently I'm working on more Faure, and songs by Glinka, Tchaikovsky, Grieg and Schubert. Some of them are just as technically demanding as solo pieces by the same composers, but performing music together with someone is always less stressful than solo playing. So I'm changing focus from solo playing to accompanying. This doesn't mean that I have stopped working on piano music, but I work more on pieces that can be used as interludes. For this purpose shorter pieces (1 - 4 minutes) are best suited. I absolutely recommend others to try accompanying vocals or other instruments. It adds an extra dimension to the music.

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Originally Posted by Ganddalf
I have decided to learn more art songs.


Really dumb question, what does "art song" mean?

And that's neat, I've been learning a very simple accompaniment for a beginner violin (my daughter just started this year) and we're having a really good time with it. I've also been learning a piano duet with my son. You're right, it's fun! And you don't need that much experience playing to do it with someone else.


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Originally Posted by Qazsedcft


Thanks! "Today I learned" what an art song is smile


Now learning: Chopin C# minor Nocturne (posth), Mozart Sonata in C K. 545, R. Schumann Fantasy Dance, Joplin The Chrysanthemum
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Neat! For someone like yourself, who has been playing for many years, branching out to art songs and collaborative playing seems like a natural progression. Do you have a schedule set up to meet an practice with others?


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Originally Posted by squidbot
Originally Posted by Qazsedcft


Thanks! "Today I learned" what an art song is smile

I learned something too. But a clarification, if I may. So based on the wikipedia definition, even a very common operatic aria wouldn't be considered an art song? For example, "Nessun dorma", which is probably more often performed outside of the opera, Turandot, than in the opera itself?


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Stubbe,
Before the concert in June we planned rehearsals together, once or twice a week. Now we both have summer vacation, but from the middle of August we start up again. We realize that we have to select a new concert date and agree upon which songs to perform before we schedule the rehearsals. Otherwise there is a risk that nothing will happen. But once week seems right to me, and perhaps more frequently as the concert date draws near.

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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by squidbot
Originally Posted by Qazsedcft


Thanks! "Today I learned" what an art song is smile

I learned something too. But a clarification, if I may. So based on the wikipedia definition, even a very common operatic aria wouldn't be considered an art song? For example, "Nessun dorma", which is probably more often performed outside of the opera, Turandot, than in the opera itself?


Not to me. I consider it an Aria, not an Art Song.



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Originally Posted by NobleHouse
Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by squidbot
Originally Posted by Qazsedcft


Thanks! "Today I learned" what an art song is smile

I learned something too. But a clarification, if I may. So based on the wikipedia definition, even a very common operatic aria wouldn't be considered an art song? For example, "Nessun dorma", which is probably more often performed outside of the opera, Turandot, than in the opera itself?


Not to me. I consider it an Aria, not an Art Song.

Is this just a context thing? Opera vs. not opera? That is, is an operatic aria just an art song performed within an opera? Or is there a more fundamental difference between the two completely separate from the context? (Of course I know what an aria is, but I just have never heard the term art song before, probably because I don't listen to art songs... LOL)

Last edited by Tyrone Slothrop; 07/12/18 06:41 PM.

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Art songs require a somewhat different mind-set than for operatic arias and orchestral songs.

Voice & piano is an intimate affair, a far cry from a tenor bellowing out Vincerò! Vincerò!. You can whisper in a Lied or mélodie, you can deploy all sorts of nuances that would be lost in an opera:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YSo5yUxgohA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ih6UCcIvE18

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rTFUM4Uh_6Y


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Originally Posted by bennevis
Art songs require a somewhat different mind-set than for operatic arias and orchestral songs.

Voice & piano is an intimate affair, a far cry from a tenor bellowing out Vincerò! Vincerò!. You can whisper in a Lied or mélodie, you can deploy all sorts of nuances that would be lost in an opera:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YSo5yUxgohA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ih6UCcIvE18

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rTFUM4Uh_6Y

Thanks for the examples! Now I know that art songs are called Lieder. I do have a friend who was pressing me to listen to some lieder. So now I know what I was missing by resisting. wink

Probably I'm showing my ignorance now, but it seems to me a somewhat fine distinction, most of which I must be missing. Except that the first opera that I know of that used a piano was La Rondine, I feel that "Du bist die Ruh" at the first link could have very nicely fit in some German opera - even something like Parsifal, which has some quieter and more reflective moments with less than the full orchestral accompaniment. And "A Chloris" at the second link could have fit in a baroque opera - for example, something by Cavalli - except that in such a case it would have been with a harpsichord continuo, and not piano. I am vaguely sensing the difference between an art song and an operatic aria, but it seems to be a very gray line... well, except for the context of being in an opera or not, which is obviously clear cut. But as to their stylistic nature, I still don't feel like I have a good grasp of the difference between an art song and aria. But be that as it may, both examples you've given are very nice, and so now I will have to search out more art songs to listen to.


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Here is a conundrum: one of the most beautiful Lieder arranged by the composer into an equally beautiful orchestral song wink :

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26Mhh3pfydk

BTW, there's also a piano transcription of this song by Reger:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-Absz6cdx0

.....which I've been playing for a while now. It's quite easy - the main difficulty is balancing the vocal part and the accompaniment, which is in the same register on the piano.


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Originally Posted by bennevis
Here is a conundrum: one of the most beautiful Lieder arranged by the composer into an equally beautiful orchestral song wink :

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26Mhh3pfydk

BTW, there's also a piano transcription of this song by Reger:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-Absz6cdx0

.....which I've been playing for a while now. It's quite easy - the main difficulty is balancing the vocal part and the accompaniment, which is in the same register on the piano.

So from your comment, I take it lieder/art songs can only be with piano accompaniment, and if converted to orchestral accompaniment, then what appears to be the same song cease to be a lieder/art song, but become an orchestral song instead? And an operatic aria then is just an orchestral song within the format of an opera? (I'm being killed by the nomenclature! haha)


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Operatic arias lose much of their textual significance when sung out of context, i.e. out of the operas they came from. Whereas the significance of Lieder is that the composer conceived them as self-contained, even if the text came from something much bigger, like Goethe's Faust.

Incidentally, this is the song that's generally considered to have given birth to the German Lied - with the text taken from said Faust:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fTDIfoTnl3A

The piano part - with its moto perpetuo depicting the spinning of the wheel (and the interruptions later) - is inseparable from the vocal part. Thus was conceived the art-song, where the accompaniment contributes equally - describing/commenting on the text, sometimes like a second character in the story.

As here, the piano as the horse galloping away from the dangerous creature 'Erlking':

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

Compare with this lovely song, which is not considered to be a 'Lied': the piano is clearly just providing the harmony, as well as setting the jaunty mood:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9CJqi6bqbU


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Originally Posted by squidbot


Really dumb question, what does "art song" mean?

And that's neat, I've been learning a very simple accompaniment for a beginner violin (my daughter just started this year) and we're having a really good time with it. I've also been learning a piano duet with my son. You're right, it's fun! And you don't need that much experience playing to do it with someone else.


Originally Posted by Qazsedcft


LOL!! What a sleuth! I had never heard of it either. Now I have to listen... btw is it possible Bennevis wrote the Wikipedia entries? LOL sorry just in a comical mood today.


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Gandalf, sounds interesting - good luck with the new adventure. I wonder if it's a little easier playing these pieces as you don't have to play the melody, but on the other hand there is the stress of keeping perfect time when playing with others.

As an aside, whenever I now watch a rock concert that contains a piano or keyboard, I'm always thinking, "wow, that looks so easy - they just play a few chords, or just for a few bars at a time. I have to play the lead, the rhythm, keep the time, add dynamics, etc etc. all by myself."


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Ganddalf, Interesting that you should bring up the dimension of playing piano with others, whether it be singers or other pianists, or chamber music. In addition to having a regular duet partner, I recently have met a violinist which has opened opportunities for playing piano trios. But now I find myself agreeing to learn the Clara Schumann trio and a Bach double concerto. I don’t learn new music easily, so I am torn between thinking of this as an opportunitty to learn new music more quickly or wondering if I should say “no” to some of these suggestions. I feel that all this is cutting into my time of working on my solo piano pieces. There are only so many hours in a day that I can practice piano.

Are you feeling overwhelmed, and do you just say “no” to certain opportunities?



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Originally Posted by bennevis
Operatic arias lose much of their textual significance when sung out of context, i.e. out of the operas they came from. Whereas the significance of Lieder is that the composer conceived them as self-contained, even if the text came from something much bigger, like Goethe's Faust.

Incidentally, this is the song that's generally considered to have given birth to the German Lied - with the text taken from said Faust:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fTDIfoTnl3A

The piano part - with its moto perpetuo depicting the spinning of the wheel (and the interruptions later) - is inseparable from the vocal part. Thus was conceived the art-song, where the accompaniment contributes equally - describing/commenting on the text, sometimes like a second character in the story.

As here, the piano as the horse galloping away from the dangerous creature 'Erlking':

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

Compare with this lovely song, which is not considered to be a 'Lied': the piano is clearly just providing the harmony, as well as setting the jaunty mood:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9CJqi6bqbU

Aha! I get it now! Lieder/Art Songs are self-contained songs with piano accompaniment where the piano music itself is an integral part of the semantics of the song and contributes connotations through musical themes and sound mimesis! Yes? And so if the piano accompaniment is not an integral part of the semantics, and it is just simply a nice harmony with the song, then it isn't a lieder/art song, right?

You should have started with this. LOL. So yes, then these are totally different than operatic arias. I must listen to more of these.


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Originally Posted by PianogrlNW
Ganddalf, Interesting that you should bring up the dimension of playing piano with others, whether it be singers or other pianists, or chamber music. In addition to having a regular duet partner, I recently have met a violinist which has opened opportunities for playing piano trios. But now I find myself agreeing to learn the Clara Schumann trio and a Bach double concerto. I don’t learn new music easily, so I am torn between thinking of this as an opportunitty to learn new music more quickly or wondering if I should say “no” to some of these suggestions. I feel that all this is cutting into my time of working on my solo piano pieces. There are only so many hours in a day that I can practice piano.

Are you feeling overwhelmed, and do you just say “no” to certain opportunities?


For a long time my main problem has been the opposite. Very few opportunities to play for other people. Actually I would really like to work with instrumental chamber music as well as with vocal accompaniment. But there is plenty of good music within the "art song" category, and at present I feel happy with the situation. I may have to cut into my time of working with solo pieces, but in the beginning I have decided to work mainly on pieces of moderate difficulty. I think it is much more fun to play an easy piece for an audience than fighting with something very difficult on my own.

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Concerning the "art song" discussion, I think the definition is rather vague, and depends a little on language and culture. In Norwegian we use the terms, "sang" (song) or "romanse" (romance). In German, "Lied" is used, but this word may also refer to a simple song without accompaniment. In French they speak about "melodie" and in Russian it is "romance". So far I have played an original composition for a vocal soloist accompanied by a pianist.

Examples:

A Schubert "Lied": https://youtu.be/O405pK6BuUc
A Faure "melodie": https://youtu.be/R2Q8zuviX3c
A Glinka "romance": https://youtu.be/PLYydrXCXXg
A Grieg "sang": https://youtu.be/R-NkxDQUUDM

Simple to play? Definitely more challenging that just playing chords. Many of these compositions are true duets between the vocalist and the pianist. And when accompanying the pianist all the time has to listen to and adapt to the soloist and vice versa.

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