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Coda9 Offline OP
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After stepping out of music for 25 years, as I’m returning, my current focus is music of Chopin. As the first theme is introduced in Ballade no. 4, m. v. Appears in between the staves. I have a dim memory of teachers discussing Chopin’s personalized-? Use of this term “meza voce.” Translated literally it means half voice but this is not a score for a vocalist to realize. Rather I remember discussions around this term refering to it as middle voice. My musical instincts suspect the chords between the treble main theme and the resonant bass notes are the recipient of this m. v. Indicator. The top note of these inner chords offer an incredibley beautiful countermelody with the upper treble main theme.
Does anyone else have experience working with the m. v. Marking in scores of Chopin?

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While there is no question that inner voices are often significant in the piano works of Chopin, I think that you might be on the wrong track here.

According to Groves: Mezza voce, mezzavoce (‘half-voice’). A direction in both vocal and instrumental music to produce a quiet, restrained tone ...

That is how I have always understood this term.

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In an analogous manner, Chopin uses the term sotto voce several times in the Scherzi (and elsewhere, no doubt). Again, no reference to vocal music per se, but a suggestion for a

dramatic lowering of the vocal or instrumental volume — not necessarily pianissimo, but a definitely hushed tonal quality.

Whether intentional or subconscious, such terms in Chopin tend to underscore the often vocal and bel canto character of some of his melodies.

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I am personally skeptical about the middle voice interpretation. I think the term is fairly self explanatory as to its meaning. If you look at the first edition, most indications are in between the 2 staves so it does not necessarily apply to the bottom staff.

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terms like 'cantabile', 'cantando', 'mezza/sotto voce', are to be seen as early examples of trying to break away from the simple 'piano' and 'forte' indications by the classic masters like Mozart and Haydn. Beethoven started it, Chopin and Liszt continued it, and there was no end to it later, their inspiration is from the operatic world, but it is just a refining of the old p/f terminology. Mozart only used p or f, Beethoven tried to ad to it in German 'gesangvoll, mit innigster Empfindung', Chopin used more vocal terms, Alkan let us play 'quasi ribeche', Ravel had us play 'sans expression', and Satie had us go out of our minds 'ouvrez la tête', or reminded us to stay put whilst playing 'ne sortez pas'.


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There is a new book I discovered titled “ Master classes with Menahem Pressler“. Among the pieces he coaches include Chopin’s 4th Ballade. My Google search turned up a quote from him (in this book) referring to” middle voice“ in this same passage as I’ve mentioned above. So I’m going to order a used copy or you can find it on Google books.
Many times in the first and fourth allades I hear a solo voice with opera chorus commentary. As I consider subtly bringing out the upper note of the chords measures five onward under the main theme, The opera chorus can be heard solo in Meesure 12.
This entire piece has to do greatly with inner voices so I’m exploring this possibility in the chords under opening of the main theme.

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Originally Posted by BruceD
While there is no question that inner voices are often significant in the piano works of Chopin, I think that you might be on the wrong track here.

According to Groves: Mezza voce, mezzavoce (‘half-voice’). A direction in both vocal and instrumental music to produce a quiet, restrained tone ...

This is the way "mezza voce" was, and is still used. It is often seen in instrumental music: Chopin is no exception.


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Originally Posted by Coda9
There is a new book I discovered titled “ Master classes with Menahem Pressler“. Among the pieces he coaches include Chopin’s 4th Ballade. My Google search turned up a quote from him (in this book) referring to” middle voice“ in this same passage as I’ve mentioned above. So I’m going to order a used copy or you can find it on Google books.

Here's the quote from that book (there's a typo: "mezzo" instead of "mezza"):

[Linked Image]

"someone who speaks from the inside: he talks to one person and not to everyone": that's a nice image to help find the right character for "mezza voce". Later Pressler does talk about a middle voice, but not in connection with this passage:

[Linked Image]


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Thank you so very much NRC, for reporting the segments in the book of masterclasses with Mr. Pressler. i’m looking forward to getting my copy and I think it’s a beautiful, very valuable tribute to Mr. Pressler as a teacher and pianist.
As I’ve found that all of the supportive “ accompanying“ styles lwithin Chopin’s compositions are actually imaginativive use of voicing, i’m going to keep my musical instinctive mind open and be aware to possibilities— both in his broken chord and blocked chord figures.

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I think a source of confusion is that Chopin and some other composers often used the directives sotto voce or mezza voce when a middle voice or bass line was the dominant melody, but that is not a requirement for their usage.

I've never seen a piano work with the "fil di voce" directive.


Play classical repertoire from score. Improvise blues.

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