Granados Danza Español 2 (Oriental): implicit subtlety in use of time signatures?

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Cass Couvelas
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Granados Danza Español 2 (Oriental): implicit subtlety in use of time signatures?

Post by Cass Couvelas » Sun Mar 26, 2017 3:37 pm

There are subtleties implicit in Granados’ time signature markings in this piece that I think I'm missing. The first section is marked 3/4 with Andante indicated; the second (middle) section is marked 6/8 and Lento assai (which I take to indicate very slow, perhaps – broadly speaking – around half an andante pace).

I’ve listened to various performances, and within the ebb and flow of people’s interpretations, there doesn’t seem to be any clear difference between the overall perceived speed of the two sections, as I hear it. When I got hold of the score (Wilson/McAllister duet transcription, Waterloo edition), I was surprised to see the two sections marked so differently.

For me, the markings seem to arrive – very, very broadly – at a similar result but from opposite ends. Put very simplistically, section one is filled with quavers but taken at a reasonable clip; section two peppered with semiquavers but taken at about half the speed of section one.

I’d be really grateful to hear from anyone who has studied this piece what their own experience of it is, and what they feel the subtleties implicit in these markings are? What am I missing?
Last edited by Cass Couvelas on Sun Mar 26, 2017 6:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Denian Arcoleo
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Re: Granados Danza Español 2 (Oriental): implicit subtlety in use of time signatures?

Post by Denian Arcoleo » Sun Mar 26, 2017 4:15 pm

Interesting question. I agree that there should be a perceptible difference in tempo between the two parts. My approach would be to think only of quaver speed and to consciously slow down that quaver speed when the second lento assai section arrives. You can make that tempo 'gear change' in the four rit. bars just preceding lento assai. That way there is a clear slowing down (hopefully that comes across in my performance of the piece) and consequently the tempo contrast clearly desired by Granados is easy to hear. Don't forget that 3/4 and 6/8 are just two different ways of grouping six quavers.

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lagartija
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Re: Granados Danza Español 2 (Oriental): implicit subtlety in use of time signatures?

Post by lagartija » Sun Mar 26, 2017 4:41 pm

Denian Arcoleo wrote: Don't forget that 3/4 and 6/8 are just two different ways of grouping six quavers.

Doesn't that mean that the feel of the pulse is changes from two groups of 3 to the feeling of one group with 4 being a bit weaker than 1? :?
A bit like a longer "wave"....feeling it in one rather than two?
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Denian Arcoleo
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Re: Granados Danza Español 2 (Oriental): implicit subtlety in use of time signatures?

Post by Denian Arcoleo » Sun Mar 26, 2017 5:28 pm

lagartija wrote:Doesn't that mean that the feel of the pulse is changes from two groups of 3 to the feeling of one group with 4 being a bit weaker than 1? :?
A bit like a longer "wave"....feeling it in one rather than two?
I kind of know what you mean, but I don't actually believe in one in a bar! We automatically group beats together in two's threes and fours. I always tell my pupils that one in a bar is essentially a pneumatic road drill and doesn't really exist in music :lol:
I believe 6/8 to be; 1 and a 2 and a.

Cass Couvelas
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Re: Granados Danza Español 2 (Oriental): implicit subtlety in use of time signatures?

Post by Cass Couvelas » Sun Mar 26, 2017 6:56 pm

Thank you, Denian. So, in effect, in section 2 the tempo should indeed slow a little. (I can certainly see that in your solo performance, which I hadn’t seen before. Thank you).

I’m still not quite clear, though, why Granados would opt to describe, or label, the second section in such a different way from the first. I feel there must be a hidden message there, which escapes me.

If the tempo intended is to be only a touch slower than in the first section, what might the reason be behind applying such extremes as ‘andante’ and ‘lento assai’ and changing the signature; when the use of, say, ‘adagio', to indicate something a bit slower than andante, would serve the purpose while maintaining the same 3/4 time signature?

Is it, as Lagartija implies, to do with the phrasing of the beats in 6/8, as opposed to 3/4, which might promote a different feeing? Or something else? A different sense of the pulse, perhaps?
Last edited by Cass Couvelas on Mon Mar 27, 2017 5:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
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lagartija
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Re: Granados Danza Español 2 (Oriental): implicit subtlety in use of time signatures?

Post by lagartija » Sun Mar 26, 2017 8:26 pm

Denian Arcoleo wrote:
lagartija wrote:Doesn't that mean that the feel of the pulse is changes from two groups of 3 to the feeling of one group with 4 being a bit weaker than 1? :?
A bit like a longer "wave"....feeling it in one rather than two?
I kind of know what you mean, but I don't actually believe in one in a bar! We automatically group beats together in two's threes and fours. I always tell my pupils that one in a bar is essentially a pneumatic road drill and doesn't really exist in music :lol:
I believe 6/8 to be; 1 and a 2 and a.
Well, yes.... I know what you mean by counting it 1 and a 2 and a. As a matter of fact, that is exactly the technique my teacher gave me on Friday to help with my tendency to play the B section of Julia Florida as two groups of three when I was counting 123,456. I didn't have that problem with the A section; that seemed to flow just fine with the way I was counting it. Still, it is an indication to me that the phrasing has a longer "wave" period or flow than if one counted in 3/8. Counting it as 1 and a 2 and a still differentiates the 6/8 from the way I would play a 3/8 counting 123 123. Even if it is all in my mind. :)
When the sun shines, bask.
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