33

I endorse Aaron's and Richard's answers, regarding what staccato means conceptually. This answer is mostly to provide some examples and details as to how staccato will typically come out in the case of a string quartet (or, strings in general). As I already commented, I strongly disagree with the people saying a staccato note should “in theory” be the same ...


19

The core difference is that eighth notes/rests and quarter notes/rests (etc.) are durations; whereas, staccato marks are articulations. While it's true that staccato affects the duration of the note, there is an important interpretive meaning either way. The version including notes and rests is giving a precise indication of how long each note and rest ...


14

The outer/larger slur is a phrase marking, letting you know that the entire passage constitutes a single musical idea. The inner slurs are similar, but indicating smaller units. One could think of the inner slurs as indicating words, and the outer slur as denoting a sentence. Part of the reason there are two sets is that there are some places in the phrase ...


14

There are a few different things this can mean, and they aren't always mutually exclusive. But they all relate to a fundamental weakness of musical notation: it's impossible to specify everything the performer should do without completely cluttering up the score. Understanding the implied style of performance. When Beethoven premiered a new piano sonata, ...


10

I want to correct some misinformation contained in the top voted answer. The claim that this is a result of Handel poorly understanding English is pure nonsense; with regard to the (valid) complaint about the placement of stress in "For unto us a child is born," the music was almost directly lifted from an earlier duet of Handel: "Nò, di voi non vo' fidarmi."...


10

Any vocal work can only be fully appreciated by listening to it in the original language, whether that language is German (Schubert's "Winterreise", or any Wagner or Strauss opera) or Italian (Puccini, Verdi etc.), because a translation nearly always loses some of the detail of the original. In extreme cases the whole meaning can be lost, ...


8

My music history professor stated flat out that Handel's English text setting was just plain bad because of his poor understanding of the language, and this was his Exhibit A. There is also the Golf Song: "FORE! Unto us a child is born!" I think he could have done better: "All WE, like SHEEP, like SHEEP have gone astray" but that's just my opinion. ...


8

Usually, there is three types of staccato's, namely a dot (staccato), a wedge (staccatissimo), and a dot under a slur (portato). The general idea is that staccatissimo is the shortest, staccato moderately short, portato still less short. Their exact meaning is up to context and interpretation, like is every musical decision. The problem complicates as some ...


8

When I studied music in college, there was a term that was thrown around an awful lot: "intentional fallacy." The idea that the performance of a piece could be more authentic if you could understand the mind or intentions of the artist was very strongly resisted. I'd agree with that about 70%. However, AS A PERFORMER, trying to figure out the ...


7

This depends on the piece of music (genre, style), not to mention what the composer may have wanted. Some pizzicatos are meant to be plucked simultaneously while others are basically strummed -- and in the latter case sometimes from top to bottom! There are notations such as vertical arrows which can indicate the strum direction.


7

This practice as you describe it became more popular in the Romantic period, with Beethoven essentially serving as the bridge from Classic to Romantic. During this age the image of the artistic composer-genius began to be intertwined with mysticism around inspiration and the creative process. Belief in the supernatural was also hugely popular at this time. ...


7

It wasn't limited to Chopin; the hairpin symbols weren't universally tied to dynamics until the twentieth century. Before then, usage was a little more varied. A good source for this is David Hyun-Su Kim. "The Brahmsian Hairpin." 19th-Century Music 36, no. 1 (2012): 46-57.


7

Whilst they all look like slurs, they're not. Some are ties, which means they're making one long note out of two written. Bar 4, the E notes are as such. But, there's one phrase mark over bars 1 to 4, which is more likely what you're questioning. Imagine speaking, and splitting your sentence into four separate little bits - mini-phrases. That's what's ...


7

I'll chime in as a violinist. Keep in mind that notation is partly about psychologically manipulating the musicians to produce the effect that you have in mind. The first example would be appropriate if you really, really wanted silence between the notes. As a musician I'd pick up on this desire and probably wind up interpretively shortening the eighth ...


6

Because musical notation is a language. Words in English have many meanings. You determine the meaning based on context, your experience, facial expression, etcetera. Words even change meaning over time. Literally. Musical notation is the same. Each symbol has a range of meaning, and that has changed over time. You need to understand the context in which ...


6

If Gershwin had wanted this swung he would have written dotted rhythms, as was usual at that time. Gershwin's original piano roll version has no swing, neither for this passage nor the other 'bluesy' trumpet solo. A lot of orchestras want to swing this, Leonard Bernstein's version with the New York Philharmonic does so (it's a light swing, not a heavy big-...


6

There's no definitive answer. It's an Etude, designed to develop and showcase some aspect of piano technique, so I think we can assume it's designed to go at a fair lick! You could look at it as a preparatory exercise to playing 'Flight of the Bumblebee'.


6

There are three ways to determine the appropriate tempo of any piece: Through one's own experience with similar pieces (e.g., same composer, style, genre, or time period). By consulting recordings to see how others have played it. By consulting other written editions of the piece. Experience This piece is clearly focused on developing fast finger-work. The ...


6

I only have a half answer, but I think there's an important thing to clarify: the literal definition of staccato. It's a past-tense form of the Italian staccare, meaning "to detach." While it's true that some musicians (especially those in competitive ensembles like a marching band) have determined particular proportions inherent in a marking like ...


6

G.P. and a fermata have entirely different meanings. OnMusic Dictionary is wrong. G.P. (or the Italian "vuota") is a courtesy indication that nobody is playing. In the absence of any indication to the contrary the tempo continues. G.P. is mostly only marked in the orchestra parts, the conductor can see from the score that everybody has rests. A ...


5

FWIW, the go-to Dolmetsch page says espirando (Italian) fading away, expiring, dying away, spirando, en expirant mancando (Italian) failing, diminishing in strength, dying away, lacking smorzando (Italian) extinguished, put out, gradually dying away to a whisper, calming down, subduing (Italian ) in music, similar terms include al niente (...


5

If my dictionary gets it correctly, this is called expressive mark (in German Vortragsbezeichnung). Examples of those not relating to speed or dynamics are: giocoso dolce animato grave Robert Schuman was aware of the deficiencies deriving from those terse words and frequently gave lengthy instructions as Nicht schnell, immer sehr leise (not fast, and ...


5

Satie played a lot with the absurd and was very eccentric. Things he did remind me of Dadaism, Surrealism and other types of modern art that came in the next generation after Satie. Compare Satie's Vexations - with 840 repeats, probably more joke that literal instructions - with Conceptual art. These are expressions that exist more as thoughts rather than ...


5

To add to some already good answers, one reason it can be so worthwhile to know the original language is to fully appreciate the text–music relationships that the composer set. There's a technique known as text painting (or word painting) where a composer makes a musical reference to the text being sung. Perhaps there's a chilly wind that passes the ...


4

The trend is clearly against translating. While operas were frequently translated into the local language still in the 20th century, this sharply declined with any historically informed performance. Schuberts melodies have easily an impact on the interested listener (no matter, how hard they are to play or to sing). The poems he chose were of widely varying ...


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