Lagrima: A structural analysis and notes for interpretation

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Ramon Amira
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Lagrima: A structural analysis and notes for interpretation

Post by Ramon Amira » Mon May 19, 2014 8:52 pm

This is the first of a series of articles I will be posting, on an aspect of classical guitar pedagogy that I feel has not been sufficiently explored. Much of pedagogy deals with technique, but not enough with interpretation. Of course a good teacher will help his or her student with interpretation, but many players do not have teachers for any one of a number of reasons. And some teachers are reluctant to delve into interpretation with their students, feeling that interpretation is too personal. Others might be focused too intently on technique.

While interpretation is frequently a matter of "play it the way you feel it," there is one important facet of the music that can be used as a guide to interpretation - structure. The structure of a piece can often be used as something of a blueprint for interpretation. I am speaking of going beyond the obvious - e.g., a lyrical passage more quietly, etc. I mean a minute linear breakdown and analysis of the structure.

The following structural analysis of "Lagrima" has ensued from a lesson I recently gave to a Delcamp member. He had no trouble actually playing the notes, so I thought the lesson would be better used for interpretation. What emerged was a focus on a combination of phrasing and dynamics derived from the structure, as opposed to "playing it the way you feel it."

The first thing to do is identify and separate the disparate parts of the music. Lagrima has more parts than just melody and harmony. There are parts that can best be identified as "fills," which strictly speaking are neither harmony nor accompaniment. These should be isolated with the use of dynamics and tempo manipulation.

Dynamics can and should be used in the melody as well, but I am not speaking of fairly obvious wholesale dynamics, but rather incremental dynamics from note to note, as opposed to dynamics applied uniformly to an entire line or lines, sections, etc.

Measures One and Two:

In Measure One the melody line is ascending: G# -A - B. This ascension can be enhanced by ascending in volume as well as pitch, playing each successive note somewhat louder than the preceding note, as opposed to a linear uniformity. By doing that, not only is the ascension enhanced, but so is the peak of the melody line at B. The bass voice E - F# - G# - D# is executed the same way. The accompanying Bs are played softer to separate melody from accompaniment.

The F# on the first beat of Measure Two marks the end of the melody line. But this is a sharp descent from the B, lower even that the very first treble note of Measure One. Consequently, if it is played at or near the volume of the B, it threatens to dissipate the effect of the peak at B. Conversely, a drop in volume at the F# will enhance the peak at the B.

The remainder of Measure Two is a fill. It should be isolated by executing a short fermata after the F# and then playing the fill softly, thus establishing a clear distinction between melody and fill, a distinction that is not clearly delineated when the fill immediately follows the melody in a continuous line and at the same volume.

Measures Three and Four are a repeat of Measures One and Two, and should be played the same way.

Measures Five and Six are the exact opposite of Measures One and Two, as the melody line is now descending. This is a straight and continuous descent to the end of the melody line: E - D# - C# - B. The same principle can be used as was in Measures One and Two. Each successive note is played at a somewhat lower volume than the preceding note, thus creating a deeper emotional feeling of descent. The bottom B was first the peak of the melody line, and is now the nadir.

The balance of Measure Six is a fill, and as the fill in Measure Two should be isolated by executing a short fermata after the B and then playing the fill softly.

Measures Seven and Eight:

The melody line again consists of just four notes descending - G# - C# - B - E. It might seem on the surface that the melody line consists of seven notes, starting with the G# on the first beat of Measure Seven, and reading: G# - E - C# - F# - B - D# - E. But that construction would be inconsistent with everything that precedes it - four melody notes followed by fill - four melody notes followed by fill - four melody notes followed by fill. To be consistent structurally then, one would expect Measures Seven and Eight to consist of once again four melody notes, leading to the tonic, which is in fact the case if one construes the melody line as G# - C# - B - E.

Further evidence that the melody line is four notes and not seven can be discerned by the construction of the other voices. The lower voice is comprised of four notes: B - A# - A - G#. And the third voice - also comprised of four notes - is in the treble: E - F# - D# - E. Play each of these two voices independently and it becomes clear that they are both discrete parts. So Measures Seven/Eight really consists of three four-note voices - one melody line, and two harmony voices.

A useful exercise to illuminate the structure as described above is to extract the melody line and play it in isolation: G# -A - B - F# . . . . G# -A - B - F# . . . . E - D# - C# - B . . . . G# - C# - B - E.

My next article will continue with the second half of Lagrima.

Ramon
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petermc61
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Lagrima: A structural analysis and notes for interpretation

Post by petermc61 » Mon May 19, 2014 11:37 pm

Hi Ramon

I very clear description of the first part of Lagrima. I like your analysis and interpretative notes.

Regards,
Peter

Nate Miller

Re: Lagrima: A structural analysis and notes for interpretat

Post by Nate Miller » Tue May 20, 2014 2:00 am

very nice work. You're right, Ramon, there is not enough of this sort of work available for players who are working without teachers.

It was a great idea to pick a piece like this one, too

I believe I'll pull this one out onto the music stand and take a lesson with you myself

johnhall
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Re: Lagrima: A structural analysis and notes for interpretat

Post by johnhall » Tue May 20, 2014 10:39 am

I did an analysis a while back of Lagrima and Adelita that might also give you some interpretive ideas based on the harmonic and melodic structure:

http://www.johnhallguitar.com/blog/lgri ... _analysis/

John

wilhelmreich
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Re: Lagrima: A structural analysis and notes for interpretat

Post by wilhelmreich » Tue May 20, 2014 12:29 pm

Please don't stop. Your article was easy to understand but very useful and interesting. Great idea. Thank you!

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cefyn
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Re: Lagrima: A structural analysis and notes for interpretat

Post by cefyn » Tue May 20, 2014 12:59 pm

This is really helpful - I've been learning this piece for the last three lessons with my teacher. Whilst I'm still learning the notes at this stage it really gives me an insight into whats to come during my forthcoming lessons, as we make the piece 'musical'

Thank you
1983 Robert Cross Spruce & IRW

jrEADGBE

Re: Lagrima: A structural analysis and notes for interpretat

Post by jrEADGBE » Wed May 21, 2014 1:38 am

Thank you Ramone. This is one of my favorite pieces but what troubles me is all the string noise I make going across the fret board. I'm using D'Addario EXP strings. Any advice?

Bman

Re: Lagrima: A structural analysis and notes for interpretat

Post by Bman » Wed May 21, 2014 9:29 pm

Thanks for this explanation. Sometimes it's hard on some of the simplest pieces to know exactly which notes to accentuate to make it sound like music instead of just notes. It sounds much better now when I play it.

Paul Hammer

Re: Lagrima: A structural analysis and notes for interpretat

Post by Paul Hammer » Fri May 23, 2014 5:21 pm

what troubles me is all the string noise I make going across the fret board
I watched a teaching video on Lagrima a few months ago, where the player mainly taught the importance of removing the fingers from the strings - momentarily - and planting them, in order not to make squeaks or string noise. I think it was a Kevin Gallagher video.

Nate Miller

Re: Lagrima: A structural analysis and notes for interpretat

Post by Nate Miller » Fri May 23, 2014 5:44 pm

I've been working with this one since you posted this thread, Ramon, and there's something that I've noticed...

Now over in the Café, I posted a thread about Schenkerian Analysis, and I do apply his ideas when I approach a piece, and here I see something interesting in that first line G#-A-B-F#

The deep background melodic motion is clearly G#-F#-E. I mean over the entire work, not just this first part

For me then, I would bring out the motion from the G# to the F#. Dynamically accenting like: G# - A - B - F# so that the A and B are heard as decorating the G#.

What I like about your interpretation of the first bar is that the beginning of the piece is not actually the beginning of the main structure. The E bass note is not in the primary register. This whole first section is delaying that event, in fact, it is delayed until the return of the A section because in the B section the G# is a G nat. There's some problems if you try and be too pedantic with the application of the theory here, but I think that the first time through the A section, I would play this passage as you suggest, and save the G#-F# accentuation for the return of the A section. This allows me to "keep my powder dry" as it were and save this alternate way of phrasing that line for the repeat of the A section

Anyway...I'm not critiquing your work at all or even remotely suggesting that you' re not dead right. I'm just sharing some of the thoughts I've had on this piece since you have given me an interesting last few days. I hope that this idea helps to add to what you are trying to do for people, which is to illuminate the process we go through in creating our musical interpretation of a work

and I'm looking forward to your next article


nate

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Yisrael van Handel
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Re: Lagrima: A structural analysis and notes for interpretat

Post by Yisrael van Handel » Sun May 25, 2014 8:38 am

Ramon,
A thousand thanks for your post. I have been getting frustrated with the entire Delcamp network because of its focus on guitar particulars, while entirely ignoring the subject of music. I strongly believe that our goal is to play music, not to play the guitar. I see no justification for spending one's time playing the guitar. What will it accomplish? Now, playing music is a different story. Music is a language of the soul. It adds a whole dimension to life. It is a spiritual activity that elevates a person. If you wish to play music, the guitar is certainly a wonderful tool for playing music: it can produce great and very intimate tone, beautiful polyphony and harmony, etc. But only if you concentrate on making music. That requires understanding the music. Moreover, if your sound is very musical, if you deliver a moving, spiritual message, you can be forgiven for an occasional buzz or rough spot. I am not against technique. It is necessary to produce music. It should never be an end in itself, because that will lead to music without soul.
Yisrael van Handel
Modi'in Ilit, Israel

kelidj

Re: Lagrima: A structural analysis and notes for interpretat

Post by kelidj » Sun Jun 01, 2014 11:13 pm

It´s really helpful for those of us who are practicing classical guitar without a teacher to get an analyzis like this. I recently started to learn Lagrima. I think I have mastered the piece technically but I´m still thinking about how to interpret it. I hope you will find the time to write about the B part of the pice. I will read it for sure.

AlaricTheFirst

Re: Lagrima: A structural analysis and notes for interpretat

Post by AlaricTheFirst » Fri Jun 06, 2014 12:37 pm

Very nice! Thank you for the analyzis, Ramon. What I really want to see is the "part B" interpretation. As said before, I've probably mastered the piece technically but I still need to add more expression to it.

mainterm
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Re: Lagrima: A structural analysis and notes for interpretat

Post by mainterm » Fri Jun 06, 2014 3:54 pm

Hi Ramon,

I agree with many of the posts that this kind of contribution and discussion on this forum is welcome and needed. Thank you for posting this.

I did have a question regarding your view on mm3-4. You state:
Ramon Amira wrote: Measures Three and Four are a repeat of Measures One and Two, and should be played the same way.
When it comes to the finer points of interpretation, I think it is generally advisable to vary the presentation of repeated material -- if only very slightly. In this case one could vary the overall dynamic level of the phrase and/or vary the tone slightly and in so doing, create a more expressive effect in the interpretation.

Ramon Amira
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Re: Lagrima: A structural analysis and notes for interpretat

Post by Ramon Amira » Fri Jun 06, 2014 6:57 pm

mainterm wrote:Hi Ramon,

I agree with many of the posts that this kind of contribution and discussion on this forum is welcome and needed. Thank you for posting this.

I did have a question regarding your view on mm3-4. You state:
Ramon Amira wrote: Measures Three and Four are a repeat of Measures One and Two, and should be played the same way.
When it comes to the finer points of interpretation, I think it is generally advisable to vary the presentation of repeated material -- if only very slightly. In this case one could vary the overall dynamic level of the phrase and/or vary the tone slightly and in so doing, create a more expressive effect in the interpretation.
Yes, I agree, thank you. When I said "should be played the same way" I was referring to the internal dynamics. But the repeat would be better played with a lowering of the overall dynamic, like an echo.

Ramon
Classical and Flamenco guitar lessons via Skype worldwide - Classical and Flamenco guitars from Spain

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