Accents and phrasing for Renaissance music

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wazow
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Accents and phrasing for Renaissance music

Post by wazow » Sun Dec 30, 2018 3:37 pm

I am working on a Galliard (my first Galliard since 20+ years). I am trying to figure out some consistent phrasing. I have read online about the "big accents", on the fourth beat of the first phrase, and on the second beat of the second phrase. This is fine, and I think I am getting there. However, in many places I have read that articulation in the small (passages, single groups of notes) is more important in the early music. This is also what I hear in the good recordings but find hard to imitate.

Harnoncourt wrote that we need to alternate strengths of sounds as in speech - with strong and weak syllables, and that is much more important than phrasing in the large. But I have only seen a single phrase analyzed in his book. I have read similar statements in Kite-Powell's manual to performing Renaissance music, but they were mostly fragmented (an example or two, on a particular dance). Is there any consistent guide, school, manual, whatever, from where I could learn logical accenting, the speech of sounds, for Renaissance music? How do you folks learn it?

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David Norton
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Re: Accents and phrasing for Renaissance music

Post by David Norton » Sun Dec 30, 2018 5:03 pm

wazow wrote:
Sun Dec 30, 2018 3:37 pm
Is there any consistent guide, school, manual, whatever, from where I could learn logical accenting, the speech of sounds, for Renaissance music? How do you folks learn it?
Yes, the very same way they learned it in the 1500s: by listening to it and playing the repertoire. The same way jazz, blues, flamenco are all still taught. Trying to explain subtle nuances of music performance in written words is virtually impossible to do.

Also, please keep in mind there is no "continuous tradition" for playing this repertoire. The entire style died out for centuries, and was revived only 100 years ago or so. Therefore whatever we consider "right" today, is 100% speculation. Go with what your ear tells you is convincing and sounds right.
David Norton
Salt Lake City, UT
First person to complete the Delcamp "Let's Learn Sor's Opus 60" project

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Frank Nordberg
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Re: Accents and phrasing for Renaissance music

Post by Frank Nordberg » Mon Dec 31, 2018 12:50 pm

wazow wrote:
Sun Dec 30, 2018 3:37 pm
Harnoncourt wrote that we need to alternate strengths of sounds as in speech - with strong and weak syllables, and that is much more important than phrasing in the large.
That is very good advice although it's more relevant to song based forms than dances.

To get a good phrasing for a dance, you may want to start with the steps. The galliard - aka "five steps" is a fairly fast paced with four small steps (left-right-left-right) building up to a jump (or "cadence"). A stylized "art music" galliard will probably be a bit too slow to be danceable but you still want to keep that same character. Try to dance it yourself to get a fell for it, or watch these two videos:



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wazow
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Re: Accents and phrasing for Renaissance music

Post by wazow » Tue Jan 01, 2019 5:24 pm

Thank you. I am trying to listen and play various effects that I hear - although this is difficult. I may have concrete questions in a few days, but first, I need to share the dissatisfaction with my playing. When I listen to recordings (also the ones above) the difference between strong and weak bits is quite pronounced and clear. There is a variety in every passage. I am trying to imitate this, but whatever I produce is dull. My passages and melodies are flat, or they have a single trajectory (increasing or decreasing strength), not the "individual notes talking/dancing".

I believe that I can do a crescendo lasting 2 measures, but it is much harder to have this "talking" effect going within measure. Let's say,I am playing a passage, and want to accent only every second note, or only the strong steps in the dance. I am trying to do this, but the effect is mediocre. Is there any proven way of training this? An exercise? A practice method? Surely, all these historical players have somehow learnt this.

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Frank Nordberg
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Re: Accents and phrasing for Renaissance music

Post by Frank Nordberg » Tue Jan 01, 2019 10:45 pm

wazow wrote:
Tue Jan 01, 2019 5:24 pm
Let's say,I am playing a passage, and want to accent only every second note, or only the strong steps in the dance. I am trying to do this, but the effect is mediocre. Is there any proven way of training this? An exercise? A practice method?
I don't know of any exercises specifically for it but it's something you can practice with any piece of music, preferably something so simple you don't have to worry about other technical challenges.

Musical control is much more about what goes on in your brain than finger technique. You have to hear the music inside your head and feel it through your whole body to get it right. Try a very simple tune - or maybe just a single repeated note. Try to imagine how it's supposed to sound, then play it the way you imagined it. Don't worry about how each note sound, focus on the whole line, how the notes relates to each other - how the music ebbs and flows. Don't be afraid to excaggerate the dynamics at first.

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pogmoor
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Re: Accents and phrasing for Renaissance music

Post by pogmoor » Tue Jan 01, 2019 11:29 pm

Frank Nordberg wrote:
Tue Jan 01, 2019 10:45 pm
You have to hear the music inside your head and feel it through your whole body to get it right.
Maybe even sing the tune to yourself. It's quite helpful to find a galliard that also exists as a song. A good example is Dowland's Frog Galliard, which is the same tune as his song Now, O now we needs must part. Here's a video where the instrumental galliard morphs into the song (in the rather unlikely setting of Pickering railway station and surrounding countryside).
Eric from GuitarLoot
Renaissance and Baroque freak; classical guitars by Lester Backshall (2008), Ramirez (Guitarra del Tiempo 2017),
Yamaha (SLG 130NW silent classical guitar 2014).

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