The phrasing he suggests seems wrong?

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electrictears
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The phrasing he suggests seems wrong?

Post by electrictears » Sun Nov 08, 2015 9:45 am

I stumbled upon this video and he suggests making a decrescendo towards a top note and a crescendo back down to make the phrasing longer.
But the example he gives with Lagrima by Tarrega seems unnatural to do. (at 2:16)

The phrasing for Lagrima seems to be pretty obvious and it sounds strange when he changes it. Playing the Fsharp in the second measure as an upbeat instead of the end of the phrase? It seems more natural to put an accent on the low B note before the 3rd measure to accent the cadens instead of accenting the high F that lasts a whole measure.

So, is there such a thing as wrong phrasing or am I not feeling it because I'm used to it in the 'normal' way?

What's your view?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j8btVRVPwIs

bchi123
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Re: The phrasing he suggests seems wrong?

Post by bchi123 » Wed Nov 11, 2015 3:36 am

I don't think what Allen is saying is wrong; I feel it's another way of interpreting the phrase that you could also use in your playing.

I think the reason why this works is because the volume change doesn't disrupt the flow of the phrase. In his example of Lagrima, the last note of the melodic phrase ends on the first beat of mm2; the change of volume whether ascending or descending doesn't really affect the finality of that note. He also demonstrated this in his video.
When words leave off, music begins. ~Heinrich Heine

stevel
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Re: The phrasing he suggests seems wrong?

Post by stevel » Tue Nov 17, 2015 1:06 am

electrictears wrote: So, is there such a thing as wrong phrasing
What's your view?
You will hear musicians say "music is art, there are no rules in art".

However, MY opinion, FWIW, is that when you're dealing with an established tradition, there IS a correct way - and wrong way. IOW, the tradition defines the rules for us.

Everyone wants to be famous. Everyone is a bit narcissistic (especially pro performers) and they want to put their stamp on something. They want to be the "I"m the guy who came up with that interpretation" guy - right or wrong.

That said, there can be something very artistic in exploring anti-traditional interpretations that can put an entirely new perspective on a work.

However, IMHO there's a big difference between someone who interprets something "their way" based on lack of knowledge, versus someone who is truly seeking a new perspective (and it's clear that's what they're doing).

I wouldn't trust anything this guy says because he didn't play (and if he did later - I didn't watch the whole video - then it's too late).

I believe it might have been Frank Zappa: "Shut up and play yer guitar!".

I have to question the motives here.

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Re: The phrasing he suggests seems wrong?

Post by Ramon Amira » Wed Nov 18, 2015 9:03 pm

I would like to say that this guy is absolutely right. I would LIKE to say that, but unfortunately I can't. His Lagrima suggestion is preposterous. He turns the opening phrase into a yo-yo. It's outlandish.

He claims that continuing the crescendo to the B and softening the F# "creates a stop - BOOM - a complete statement, and then "this other stuff" (the fill) "which doesn't mean anything" . . . " Good grief.

It's the very fill itself that shows that the opening phrase is not a "complete statement," but even without that it in no way sounds like a "complete statement." You only have to "play" it in your head his way to see how ridiculous it sounds, but for a good laugh play it on the guitar.

Ramon
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Nick Cutroneo
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Re: The phrasing he suggests seems wrong?

Post by Nick Cutroneo » Fri Nov 27, 2015 8:35 pm

Musical interpretations are very personal. It's your personal thoughts and ideas of how a piece of music should be played. However, when you start using intellect and "oh this would sound different/cool/etc..." as your interpretive tools, you are no longer interpreting the music but forcing your will upon the written score. Sometimes that will is against what the composer has shown us in the music. There are general concepts to music that we should all be able to hear and create on our instruments

1) Notes ascend - you get louder as they go higher
2) Notes descend - you get softer as they go lower
3) Intensity = loud
4) Relaxation/release of tension = softer

There are others, but these are 4 basics that go along with the phrase in question with Lagrima.

Now, there are times when you'll actually go against these rules (IE - break them). However, the first question that one should ask is "Does breaking these rules enhance the piece?" If not, then you are probably over thinking the situation.

When in doubt sing the phrase. How do you hear it? How would you like to shape the melody? Singing will answer all these questions so you don't have to come up with an intellectual solution, but one based on notes in the piece.

Edit - Another thing, if someone is going to provide a musical interpretive idea that is different than the norm, for me they have to be able to support that opinion with musical facts from the piece of music. IE - I'm going to do abc because of xyz in the piece therefore I get this result. In addition, they have to be able to execute the idea comfortable and convince me. Sometimes people cannot do that. Or they may be able to explain why it should work, but when they play it -- it just doesn't work. Remember musical interpretation is individual. While the video in question is showing you a different perspective, it's up to you to decide if 1) You like it or not or 2) If it's a valid alternative to what you have been playing.

I'd argue, due to the amount of times you hear this phrase in Lagrima, that it might be interesting to incorporate the idea into 1 or 2 phrases that you feel would benefit from it's results. Would I do it for every phrase? I don't know, but I have my own phrasing of Lagrima and I don't feel that it needs to be altered.
Nick Cutroneo - Classical Guitarist, performer/teacher/suzuki instructor

hpaulj
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Re: The phrasing he suggests seems wrong?

Post by hpaulj » Fri Nov 27, 2015 10:42 pm

For a while I watched all of Alan's free videos. He seems to apply the 'decrescendo on rising phases' idea across the board. I forget the exact reasons (I think it was the naturally louder quality of high notes, and phrases tend to fall toward a resolution). He applies this even if it is contrary to markings on the score. But he also acknowledges that this is a personal preference, not a rule that we all have to follow. Alan focuses on phrasing and dynamics early in his tutorials.

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Yisrael van Handel
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Re: The phrasing he suggests seems wrong?

Post by Yisrael van Handel » Sun Nov 29, 2015 3:50 pm

There is quite a bit of freedom in Romantic performance practice. But phrasing is relatively predictable based on half-cadences and full cadences. There are no upbeats in Lagrima. Each phrase starts on the beat. The half cadence is at the end of the second measure and the full cadence is at the end of the fourth measure. The second set of four measures repeats the phrasing pattern. I think that it is clear and obvious that Tarrega intended the phrasing above. It is the performer's job to make the repetition interesting. You have the usual tools available: dynamics, timbre, articulation, and stretching or compressing the rhythm. That is where the Romantic period gives a lot of freedom. Both phrasing and dynamics ultimately derive from singing. It is natural for a singer to have to push harder to reach higher notes. You don't have to make this an iron-clad rule, but it is the natural trend for music that is ultimately derived from singing. Barring strong evidence to the contrary, I would stick my neck out and say outright that Alan is not historically informed. He is not playing Tarrega, or anything that Tarrega could possibly have meant. And those who say that he is not playing at all in this video have a point. By the way, try singing the melody. I think you will that that the phrasing and dynamics are obvious, and that in a piece that is largo, you would not expect exceptionally long phrases. I always meant to try to breath according to the phrasing. Haven't gotten around to it yet, but it seems like it would help the musical understanding.
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OSJ
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Re: The phrasing he suggests seems wrong?

Post by OSJ » Thu Dec 10, 2015 10:13 am

I listened to all of this video. Alan from "music shed" does not play anything on it, but he sings the melody along in places. What he is putting across is quite an interesting idea, especially as to how a diminuendo as opposed to crescendo on an ascending scale can direct the attention of the listener in a different way. Really, when I think about, it is a great idea and well worth paying attention to.

However, where the advice he is giving is plain "wrong", is here: He is actually suggesting that this idea be incorporated as a "general rule". That is plain silly, it might work with certain passages and is well worth trying out, but to apply it as a general rule? Curiously, the example he gives, "Lagrima", is a really good example of how "Alan's new general rule" does not work at all with something like Lagrima! We can't hear him playing it, but he sings along the melody and it sounds completely ridiculous: "Lah-dah-dah-BOOMPH!" What? It sounds like the guitarist fell off his stool in the middle of the first few bars, or someone knocked into him with a loaded drinks tray :-)

It is possible that he is exaggerating to get the idea across, and that it might even sound nice when he actually plays it, we cannot know that unfortunately. The idea of giving a "push" to the F-sharp top note of the dominant 7th B arpeggio sounds fine to me, but not if it is meant to dispose of the following accompaniment, which he seems to be suggesting, and not if it is played louder. Giving a note a "push" does not necessarily mean "louder", but that seems to be what he is indicating. To get this in a nutshell, we only need to think about what he is telling us about the first phrase. Telling us that the melodic phrase ends with the F-sharp note is stating the obvious. However, playing the phrase (wherever you think it ends) loud at the beginning and softer towards the high notes, in this particular case, is totally absurd. You don't even have to play it on the guitar to prove it. Making the first pair of notes the loudest, in the case of Lagrima, is like someone dropping their heavy suitcase down on the floor and then shuffling off in a dazed manner towards the exit. End of story, but it hasn't even started.

He has a really interesting idea, well worth studying and thinking about, but has framed it completely in the wrong context.

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OSJ
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Re: Music is art

Post by OSJ » Thu Dec 10, 2015 10:54 am

"Music is art, there are no rules": I have seen this quite a lot around these forums. At least if it comes up again I can quote myself. It is a completely nonsensical and useless piece of advice, for the following reasons:

1. All art (and therefore music) has "rules". We don't have to apply the same rules all the time. We can bend rules, break them, or even invent new ones, but there are always rules.

2. Music (or art) without rules is "noise", not music. It is like a 3-year old kid banging on a keyboard with no idea but to make a noise.

3. Even if we step completely outside of convention to create something, as soon as we have an IDEA then we have "rules", the rules that govern that particular IDEA.

4. Is there ever a time when "rules" do not serve us well? Of course! When we apply rules without thinking, then we have lost sight of the art that inspired us to learn the rules in the first place. Music once agains becomes "noise", because the IDEA is no longer there.

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mc1
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Re: The phrasing he suggests seems wrong?

Post by mc1 » Thu Dec 10, 2015 12:39 pm

electrictears wrote:I stumbled upon this video and he suggests making a decrescendo towards a top note and a crescendo back down to make the phrasing longer.
But the example he gives with Lagrima by Tarrega seems unnatural to do. (at 2:16)

The phrasing for Lagrima seems to be pretty obvious and it sounds strange when he changes it. Playing the Fsharp in the second measure as an upbeat instead of the end of the phrase? It seems more natural to put an accent on the low B note before the 3rd measure to accent the cadens instead of accenting the high F that lasts a whole measure.

So, is there such a thing as wrong phrasing or am I not feeling it because I'm used to it in the 'normal' way?

What's your view?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j8btVRVPwIs
i've been thinking about this a bit, and i don't really think it's so easy to generalize. sometimes the highest note should be quieter, sometimes not.

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Yisrael van Handel
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Re: The phrasing he suggests seems wrong?

Post by Yisrael van Handel » Thu Dec 10, 2015 1:18 pm

The whole concept of phrasing comes from singing. In fact, the reason we have phrasing is singers have to breathe. It is also natural for the singer to push harder on high notes. Not that you have to do exactly the same thing as singers; after all, we are not singers. But this was the historical basis of the concepts of phrasing. While the Romantic period gives a lot of freedom, especially in dynamics, timbre, articulation, and rhythm, it does not mean that we can do whatever we want. I personally think that it is historically uninformed to do something that the composer could not possibly have meant or intended. Alan's de-emphasizing high notes is a rule that could not have crossed Tarrega's mind. Therefore, I think it is historically uninformed--wrong (excuse the politically incorrect word, but the era of political correctness ended last year, as the concept was proven to be failure).
Yisrael van Handel
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Steve Kutzer
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Re: The phrasing he suggests seems wrong?

Post by Steve Kutzer » Thu Dec 10, 2015 1:25 pm

stevel wrote:
electrictears wrote: So, is there such a thing as wrong phrasing
What's your view?
You will hear musicians say "music is art, there are no rules in art".

However, MY opinion, FWIW, is that when you're dealing with an established tradition, there IS a correct way - and wrong way. IOW, the tradition defines the rules for us.

Everyone wants to be famous. Everyone is a bit narcissistic (especially pro performers) and they want to put their stamp on something. They want to be the "I"m the guy who came up with that interpretation" guy - right or wrong.

That said, there can be something very artistic in exploring anti-traditional interpretations that can put an entirely new perspective on a work.

However, IMHO there's a big difference between someone who interprets something "their way" based on lack of knowledge, versus someone who is truly seeking a new perspective (and it's clear that's what they're doing).

I wouldn't trust anything this guy says because he didn't play (and if he did later - I didn't watch the whole video - then it's too late).

I believe it might have been Frank Zappa: "Shut up and play yer guitar!".

I have to question the motives here.
yes, it's bizarre to do a video without playing. Internet self-publishing seems to me it's starting to implode. So many expert looking productions with amateur content, it's hard to wade through.
See my technology (and guitar!) site CIO Dojo

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jpryan
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Re: The phrasing he suggests seems wrong?

Post by jpryan » Thu Dec 10, 2015 2:50 pm

Yisrael van Handel wrote:... the era of political correctness ended last year, as the concept was proven to be a failure.
:applauso:
--John

Polifemo de Oro

Re: The phrasing he suggests seems wrong?

Post by Polifemo de Oro » Thu Dec 10, 2015 3:41 pm

Ramon Amira wrote:I would like to say that this guy is absolutely right. I would LIKE to say that, but unfortunately I can't. His Lagrima suggestion is preposterous. He turns the opening phrase into a yo-yo. It's outlandish.

He claims that continuing the crescendo to the B and softening the F# "creates a stop - BOOM - a complete statement, and then "this other stuff" (the fill) "which doesn't mean anything" . . . " Good grief.

It's the very fill itself that shows that the opening phrase is not a "complete statement," but even without that it in no way sounds like a "complete statement." You only have to "play" it in your head his way to see how ridiculous it sounds, but for a good laugh play it on the guitar.

Ramon
+1

The Spanish word, Lágrima, means tear, or tear drop. The overriding sense of the phrase should be one, therefore, of tenderness. To do as this person suggests would be to turn the phrase into a grotesque kind of declamation. If you want to exercise a more passionate response to the music you have ample opportunity to do so in the B section of the piece. Here, you may get as maudlin as you wish (but don't).

So, you see, there are reasons in the end for political correctness. In the old days this was simply knowns as having a sense of discretion, taste, and propriety.

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mc1
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Re: The phrasing he suggests seems wrong?

Post by mc1 » Thu Dec 10, 2015 4:08 pm

Polifemo de Oro wrote:The Spanish word, Lágrima, means tear, or tear drop. The overriding sense of the phrase should be one, therefore, of tenderness. To do as this person suggests would be to turn the phrase into a grotesque kind of declamation. If you want to exercise a more passionate response to the music you have ample opportunity to do so in the B section of the piece. Here, you may get as maudlin as you wish (but don't).
maybe he was trying to tear the musically right out of it, and in so doing, make our eyes swell up.

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