Tempo in Cello Suites

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Stephen Faulk
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Joined: Tue Jul 03, 2012 3:27 am

Re: Tempo in Cello Suites

Post by Stephen Faulk » Fri Dec 28, 2018 2:29 am

I can't find the other thread about Bach cello suites where we talked about tunings. But I found my project that explored a guitar tuned in fifths which has a lot to do with my ideas about how the suites are mounted on guitar and the advantages and disadvantages of guitar tuning. And by extension there's a tempo discussion there also.

I'm kind of nervously explaining my project, I had an idea to make a classical guitar tuned in fifths that you play with classical guitar technique and tune in the range of the cello. I never got around to working with the idea of recording a whole dance movement from a suite with good equipment because shortly after I made this sketch video someone came over and offered me money for the instrument......so my toy was gone and I've never made another one. The video hints at the timbre in the range of cello and might explain why I have different ideas about Bach, the guitar and the mounting of the suites on guitar.

Patience at the bending iron pays in rounded dividends!

Stephen Faulk
Posts: 1304
Joined: Tue Jul 03, 2012 3:27 am

Re: Tempo in Cello Suites

Post by Stephen Faulk » Fri Dec 28, 2018 2:51 am



Regarding tempo- beginning at 2:30 the end of the cello performance Zander begins to talk about shape of the line and its relation to tempo. This is inextricably linked to how the inversions work in a particular tuning. He talks about Bar lines and reaching certain intervals and speed leading into them. It's important to understand an over arching tempo scheme to the whole concept of a suite, but it's also important to hear tempo in the context of the shape of the line in a particular section and not metronomically just seek differences to each dance movement.

Each movement has a tempo character, but its important to see each movement and each section of repeat for itself and not simply for the value of giving different tempi in order to make the whole suite varied in speed. The guitar has different junctures of interest and inversions than the cello, some points where cellists lean into certain intervals and the work to get to that expression really really do not work on the guitar, it's a totally different animal do to tuning and lack of a bow to activate the strings.

Found what he talking about to be very natural to my sense as a cello player ( such as it is for my right now not playing) and more problematic thinking from a guitar standpoint because the phrases and line speed reasoning he's talking about works differently on guitar. Duration of plucked notes also are very different from bowed notes. The approach to tempo form suite to suite for me in terms of how I hear a guitarist is more about how they reach for the kind of line Zander is pointing out. If they try to place the emphasis on intervals and phrases that cellists try to reach and lean into, the guitar range and displacement of the inversion that's played on the cello pales in comparison. So I'm thinking about tempo that search for ways to make the guitar version work on the guitar. Maybe that means playing sarabandes faster, for example.

The way that hear this situation is fundamentally different than how more guitarists look at it. It's not meant to cause friction, it's just that I really hear it this way.
Patience at the bending iron pays in rounded dividends!

Conall
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Joined: Wed Dec 27, 2017 10:26 am
Location: Scotland

Re: Tempo in Cello Suites

Post by Conall » Fri Dec 28, 2018 8:59 am

Stephen Faulk wrote:
Fri Dec 28, 2018 2:51 am


Regarding tempo......So I'm thinking about tempo that search for ways to make the guitar version work on the guitar. Maybe that means playing sarabandes faster, for example.
The contrasting aural character & technical considerations between cello & character would, I agree, have some influence on choice of tempi since what sounds most convincing & technically practical on one instrument does not necessarily translate to another.

Unlike you, I don't play cello and I also do not play a guitar tuned in 5ths but I've listened to many cello recordings & played through all the suites in original keys & transposed keys & arrangements and it's often immediately apparent that it makes sense to approach the suites somewhat differently in terms of tempo (& some other areas) when playing them on guitar.

On cello the sustaining power & ability to vary single notes after initial attack means you can wallow in the beauty of melody in, for example, the sarabandes, to a larger (longer) extent than the guitar (so again, I agree a slightly faster sarabande tempo might make sense).

Transcriptions from other instruments work similarly, eg violin partita 3 in E prelude / lute suite 4 prelude where the naturally more agile violin seems to demand a faster tempo than on the guitar - which also has the extra basses too making it technically less viable & aurally more rushed-sounding to play at the same fast tempo.

However I would always refer first to the original instrument anyway to get an idea of how tempi vary between movements & to get ideas on a whole host of other areas such as ornamentation, articulation etc.

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