Questions tagged [performance-practice]

For questions related to how music is or was performed, including but not limited to issues of instrumentation, tuning, and personnel.

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24 votes
6 answers
8k views

Why do some pianists occasionally play their hands at different times?

Piano is not my main instrument, but I have always been taught that the same rhythms should always sound together. In other words, if both hands play on the downbeat of the measure, both hands should ...
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23 votes
4 answers
4k views

As a soloist, should I face the audience or the conductor during long tutti sections?

I am playing a violin concerto with an orchestra and a fairly large audience in a few weeks. So my question is, in the long Tutti parts where I don't play, should I face towards the audience, and what ...
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22 votes
5 answers
2k views

Notation - when to use staccato vs rests

I'm arranging a piece of music I wrote for string quartet, and I'm not sure what the most practical way of notating the following rhythm is. I'm self taught and rarely use written music, so I'm not ...
22 votes
6 answers
14k views

Performance practice of Viennese Waltz

Occasionally, when I listen to an orchestra playing a Strauss waltz or something similar, I hear something interesting in the background rhythm of 'boom chik chik' in that the first 'chik' happens ...
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21 votes
4 answers
3k views

Very little time to learn pretty complex songs. What should my strategy be?

I got invited to join this band. They've got plenty more experience than I do, but I've been playing with one of the members for quite a while and, I guess, I wasn't doing so bad, since he's now ...
20 votes
17 answers
5k views

What can I do to stop getting nervous before and during a performance? [duplicate]

Normally when I have a piano performance/recital I tend to get nervous. I have done a couple of exams, and all I do is stare at the wall. But then I start sweating and then my hands are all sweaty ...
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16 votes
2 answers
2k views

Do they make "karaoke" versions of concertos for solo practice?

Say I as a pianist want to play/practice Saint-Saens's second piano concerto, but I happen to not have a symphony orchestra in my living room. How can I play this? Are there "pianoless" recordings to ...
16 votes
3 answers
331 views

What is the historically informed way of playing the 1/16 notes in Handel's Water Music suite no. 1 overture?

Handel's Water Music suite no. 1 starts with a slow overture with 1/16 notes at the middle and end of each measure: Some performances play it "as written" [Koopman], but some play the 1/16 notes ...
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12 votes
2 answers
10k views

Grace notes: when are they played on the beat, and when are they played off?

Since my performance experience is mostly in music after 1850, and since my instrument (tuba) very rarely has any grace notes, I've been mixed up for some time on how to play grace notes in different ...
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9 votes
1 answer
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What does "x" mean in piano fingering?

In many of Louis Moreau Gottshalk's scores, such as "Minuit á Séville", measures 16 - 18 (see below), the fingering is written "x" and not a digit. What does it mean? I interpret &...
9 votes
4 answers
386 views

What do you work on to get more confident, stay relaxed and play consistently?

I've been a self taught drummer for the past 18 years and only a few months ago started getting into drum notation and actually practicing rudiments. I'm realizing how important these both are to ...
8 votes
4 answers
1k views

Why are there pairs of wind instruments in a symphonic orchestra?

Why is it so that there are often two identical oboes, two identical clarinets, two identical bassoons and two identical trombones in a symphonic orchestra? Is it just because one instrument is not ...
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8 votes
5 answers
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Are German lieder usually flexible re male or female singers?

I've been listening to a lot of Schubert lieder - it's a form I'm learning more about. Are lieder vocals generally non-gender specific? It seems that there can be either a male or female vocal on the ...
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8 votes
1 answer
827 views

How to play large chord?

I am playing Scriabin's Prelude Op. 11 No. 11. (see IMSLP ) I can reach 10ths fairly comfortably, but I am wondering what to do with chords such as those that appear in m. 14 (C#4-B5-G5). Do I play a ...
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8 votes
4 answers
6k views

Should pedals be used when playing Classical-era piano music?

I recently did some reading on the historical evolution of the piano. From my understanding, classical-era pianos did not have foot pedals. By classical-era I refer to the narrower meaning of ...
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8 votes
3 answers
425 views

Extra notes (triplets) in a Bach manuscript?

My question relates to an answer by @Peter to this earlier question Different versions of mordents in Bach Invention No. 1 In C Major, BWV 772 Here's what we usually see However, in Peter's answer, ...
8 votes
2 answers
5k views

Where does the tradition of bowing after a performance come from?

Why do we bow after a performance? Where does this tradition come from? For how long has performers been doing this? Maybe there is some sort of interesting anecdote about this.
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8 votes
1 answer
368 views

What is the meaning of the "chiaroscuro" sound that was considered ideal in Classical and early-Romantic Italian opera?

Apparently, in Classical and early-Romantic Italian opera (the "bel canto" opera repertoire), the ideal kind of vocal colour was a so-called chiaroscuro sound. The chiaro- part translates as ...
7 votes
2 answers
880 views

How do you play a low Eb on a double bass?

The opera Das Rheingold starts with four of the double basses playing a low E-flat, one half step below the lowest E on a bass with standard tuning. In the sheet music, there is the instruction that ...
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7 votes
2 answers
327 views

Should staccatissimo be observed in Bach's Fugue in D Minor in WTC 1 BWV 851

I am using the "Edition Peters" and there are notes which have a staccatissimo sign under some notes. Should these be observed? It seems to me that it disrupts the overall tonal quality of ...
7 votes
1 answer
445 views

Bach French Suite BWV 816: Allemande - what is the ornament with the swoosh at the end?

I am using this (Henle) reference for ornamentation: https://www.henle.de/media/foreword/1816.pdf. The ornament in bar 9 looks like "idem" but the swoosh comes at the end (instead of at the ...
7 votes
2 answers
472 views

Small bore trombone in philharmonic orchestra - Berlioz symphonie fantastique

I was listening to this recording of Berlioz symphony by the French orchestra "Orchestre philharmonique de Radio France". After having a laugh about the clarinetist suffering from the ...
7 votes
2 answers
275 views

Timing of grace notes in Chopin's Waltz in a minor

Consider the following: (Chopin At the Piano - Verlag) Should the grace notes be played before the beat or on the beat? I am reading a book on music theory, and it says: (The AB Guide to Music ...
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7 votes
1 answer
232 views

Linear Harmony = neo-medievalism?

How much can linear harmony (the Tonnetz, Neo-Riemannian theory) be explained, more than a century later, as a correction from overly vertical (chordal, Roman numeral, late 1700's) organization to ...
6 votes
8 answers
1k views

What do I do when I feel lost when practicing a piece?

I've been practicing this piece for a while now and I just feel totally empty inside. I'm practicing measures and I feel like I'm not making any progress. I can play it with a slow speed but I feel ...
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6 votes
4 answers
466 views

Which is more comprehensible for a player after writing fortissimo: forte or meno forte?

So after writing ff when you want musicians to play very loud, would you rather write f alone or meno f if you want them to go a bit softer but still loud enough?
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6 votes
7 answers
394 views

Is there a musical difference between a work ending with a whole note and one ending with a whole note tied to an eighth?

Occasionally I come across pieces of music written for wind ensembles (or similar groups) such that the final held note of a piece is notated like so: In other words, the final note of the piece ends ...
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6 votes
2 answers
666 views

Do conductors scores ("partitur") ever differ greatly from the full score?

I believe most conductor’s scores are full scores, with all instruments appearing on them in a prescribed order, in the same notation the player will see However, it seems like there would be ...
6 votes
4 answers
2k views

Should you play baroque pieces a semitone lower?

I haven't really been able to find an answer to this question. I've only noticed that most instruments during the baroque period were tuned a semitone lower (A=415 Hz I believe). So shouldn't it make ...
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6 votes
2 answers
558 views

How to maintain an existing repertoire of performance-worthy compositions?

As an amateur guitarist, I have to time-budget my daily practice. Thus, I can either learn new material or play through the compositions I want to keep in good condition for performance. Playing ...
6 votes
1 answer
799 views

What was opera performance practice like in Wagner's time?

I know that opera performance practice was unlike that of the 20th century in, say, the 18th century in that the audience was often noisy and distracted. I'd like to know where and when the modern ...
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5 votes
4 answers
1k views

Who decides how a historic piece is adjusted (if at all) for modern instruments?

Here we have a video of a historically-informed (or period) performance of Moonlight Sonata's first movement. Wikipedia notes: Some critics contest the methodology of the HIP movement, contending ...
5 votes
3 answers
222 views

Which source for Scarlatti K208? Can I mix and match versions?

I'm working on Scarlatti's K208. The Dover edition includes variants from the Codice Veneziano (C.V.), Codice Santini (C.S.) and from the London original edition (E.O.). The first picture shows a ...
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5 votes
2 answers
281 views

Playing Haydn on the modern piano, reading list?

A typical modern score for Haydn has a boatload of editorial suggestions for dynamics, staccato, tenuto, etc. I'm sure these editors know more than I do (that's not hard), but I'd like to know more ...
5 votes
1 answer
158 views

Playing symphonies by e.g. Rachmaninoff or Mahler using string instruments with gut strings (like more Baroque styled instruments)?

I was listening to some performances from Netherland's "All of Bach" group that performs Bach works on Baroque instruments. I quite liked the sound of the strings, and I thought that it ...
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5 votes
1 answer
118 views

Help understanding basso continuo in Vivaldi's 'La Folia'

This piece by Vivaldi is shown in the score to be notated for 3 voices. However in performances, there are 4 instruments played: 2 violins, cello and keyboard. The keyboard, along with playing the ...
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4 votes
5 answers
2k views

Theory vs Practice

I am a keyboard player. I've been playing for 8 years now. The reason I ask this question about the purposes, differences and priority of theory and practice is that I've been noticing some resonating ...
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4 votes
4 answers
323 views

Are ups & downs/peaks and valleys inherent in piano practice and performance?

It sounds like a weird question, but I just don't know how to describe it in words; sometimes you are really good at performing the piece, and you feel enthusiastic and more confident, other times ...
4 votes
2 answers
1k views

Should I use the sustain pedal when playing Bach fugues?

I'm Practicing Bach Prelude & Fugue in D . There is no pedal markings since it from Baroque eras , but i found in Youtube many Concert pianist Performing Fugue with Sustain Pedals. Am working for ...
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4 votes
2 answers
216 views

Did Bach call for male countertenor for the Alto solo part for his cantatas / passion oratorios?

I see a recent trend for countertenors to sing the alto parts for Bach's cantata / passion oratorios such as Maarten Engeltjes in Magnificat and Tim Mead in St. Matthew Passion. Is this recent trend ...
4 votes
2 answers
514 views

Rolled chords: how much flexibility in the rhythm?

Best way to illustrate this question is by example, looking at Liszt's transcription of Beethoven's 6th symphony, movement 2. Compare 9:30 in: to the very start of: ...
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4 votes
3 answers
265 views

Practice and performance

This question is going to take some time to explain (at least for me), so pardon the length ahead of time. Also note that it seem like it elicits opinions but this is not the intent. I'm interested ...
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4 votes
1 answer
816 views

Performance practice of baroque triplets

When is a triplet not actually played as three equal-duration note lengths? If I may use ratio notation -- I have always understood the only acceptable interpretation of a triplet notation to be the ...
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3 votes
5 answers
909 views

How can I start to feel the beat while playing an instrument?

When I hear another one playing a piece on e.g. a piano I can usually notice if he's rushing or slowing i.e. not "feeling" the beat. But somehow I can't feel it while I'm playing the piano either, so ...
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3 votes
4 answers
473 views

How do you interpret the symbols in Erwin Schulhoff's "In futurum"?

One of the pieces that I am researching is the third movement of Funf Pittoresken, "In futurum". IMSLP link to the score pg 8 This composition has a few notations that I am at a loss at how ...
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3 votes
3 answers
217 views

Difference between notes and recoding of performed BWV anhang 122

During the past weeks I've been studying BWV anhang 122, the march in D major. Sheet music can be found here. I'm more or less able to perform the piece, though not yet at the tempo indicated by the ...
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3 votes
7 answers
891 views

Timing and performance

I love music and I want to create and I have an advanced knowledge of theory. But when it comes to performance, I fall flat. Whenever I am playing a bass or guitar, I become too overwhelmed and ...
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3 votes
4 answers
994 views

Should I try to perfect every song I play at open mic?

I've recently taken to attending open mic nights to try and get some much needed experience playing in front of an audience. I've currently got two performances under by belt and I realize I have a ...
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3 votes
3 answers
83 views

In general, do chamber musicians prefer to play from a score or from an individual part book?

Specifically in the context of Baroque trio sonatas. If part books are preferred, then what is the point of printing such works in score in the first place?
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3 votes
2 answers
124 views

Has it always been the tradition for conceto soloists to have their music memorized?

At all the performances of concertos I've attended, the soloists perform without sheet music, whether it is a concerto for piano, viola, or horn. Has this always been the performance tradition for ...
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