35 votes
Accepted

Notation - when to use staccato vs rests

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 ...
20 votes

Notation - when to use staccato vs rests

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, ...
  • 62.8k
15 votes
Accepted

What does it mean to "play what is not written"?

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 ...
  • 80.3k
15 votes

Norwegian Wood, no consensus of rhythm and feel?

Lazy’s answer sums it up well but I would like to add that the reason there is no consensus on the notation for this song is that the song was created by a composer with no knowledge of music notation ...
14 votes

Slurs within slurs

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 ...
  • 62.8k
11 votes
Accepted

Norwegian Wood, no consensus of rhythm and feel?

The first image is from The Beatles, Complete Scores. The book provides transcriptions of the songs as originally recorded. They aren't original lead sheets, nor are they arrangements like the second ...
10 votes

What does it mean to "play what is not written"?

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 ...
  • 3,903
9 votes
Accepted

Why are there many types of staccato?

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 ...
9 votes

Norwegian Wood, no consensus of rhythm and feel?

Well, they are pretty much the same thing, just differently grouped. Note that the 3/4 is taking a different base unit, so here 1/4 is what would be 1/8 in the other cases. So clearly our base is a 3-...
  • 6,061
8 votes
Accepted

Double stopping pizzicato on the violin

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 ...
7 votes

Are there any composer instructions on how to play a melody?

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 ...
  • 25.2k
7 votes
Accepted

Did Chopin use hairpins (adjacent crescendo and decrescendo) to indicate rubato rather than dynamics?

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 ...
  • 326
7 votes

Slurs within slurs

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, ...
  • 178k
7 votes

Notation - when to use staccato vs rests

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 ...
  • 80.3k
7 votes

Notation - when to use staccato vs rests

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 ...
  • 8,592
6 votes

Why are there many types of staccato?

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 ...
  • 9,509
6 votes
Accepted

A question about Gershwin interpretation

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' ...
  • 15.7k
6 votes

Finding the tempo of Bruckner's "Chromatische Etüde" in F Major

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 ...
  • 81.3k
6 votes
Accepted

Finding the tempo of Bruckner's "Chromatische Etüde" in F Major

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 ...
  • 62.8k
6 votes

Is the length of a G.P. that has no fermata discretionary?

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 ...
  • 15.7k
6 votes

Norwegian Wood, no consensus of rhythm and feel?

Having had a hard listen to Norwegian Wood, I can't put it into anything but 6/8. Reasons being - the bass plays on 1 for each bar, as does the guitar. There's a distinct 'it could be a two feel, but ...
  • 178k
5 votes
Accepted

Is there a difference between Espirando and Mancando?

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 ...
5 votes

Does Sforzando really mean a stronger accent?

For Mozart and Beethoven, the only general meaning one can give to sforzando and accent (and fp forte then subito piano) is that they mean "play this louder than what came before and what comes after."...
5 votes

Are there any composer instructions on how to play a melody?

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 ...
  • 10.1k
5 votes
Accepted

What do the written instructions in Satie's 1ère Gnossienne mean?

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 ...
5 votes

In Bach's WTK I Prelude in C major, is Glenn Gould's performance more literal reading of the score?

Gould's interpretation is his, but it is in no way more "right" than others, any more than his singing along is right or wrong - it is simply a feature of his recordings that appeals to some ...
  • 6,963

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