Friday, 23 May 2014

The overlooked things make a big impact.

First off, sorry posts have become less frequent I am BUSY, This month has brought the Rite of Spring, Till, Rosenkavalier, Liadov, Lanza, Bedrossian, Messiaen, the list keeps going.  BUT, here today is a post.

So this post will be in two parts and comes from two places, Grisey's Accords Perdus and Messiaen's Appel Interstelliare. That is a big bite of horn music, also both quite different from each other. In many ways this post is a continuation of two other posts Faking it, and The Little Things. I am sure this post will say something by itself, but the is a great deal of ideas and thoughts I will be building on from the previously mentioned.

First off, this idea I have that an exceptional performance of any kind of music requires a few things.

  1. Knowledge of the style and score.
  2. Knowledge of the composer as well as their idiosyncrasies when it comes to notation. (For example we Know Bruckner and Mahler marked their music VERY heavily compared to others. The same is true with composers now a days. Though with modern notation less is left to "conventional knowledge", but there are markings etc. that remain rather consistent in various styles.. see point 1.).
  3. Validity of the publication. This has two big points. First, the quality between publishers is vast... some work heavily with composers and we can generally assume that the marking there in are valid markings. Though, others are not as consistent and full of errors (this also applies to music from other era, but the wide range of publishing venues currently complicated matters a bit more). Second some composers more than others are known to constantly revisit their music (Boulez for example) to make changes. So, is the music you are working from the current one, or is it a photocopy of the first draft that became heavily revised. This may seem like a big thing to bite off, but I believe that this kind of responsibility is needed to bring accurate and purposeful interpretations to listeners.
  4. Quality collaboration. This is the byproduct of all of the above, we all have different ideas, hopefully built on experience and education, someone may have the missing piece of the puzzle. 
So when we consider all of the above what does it all mean. 


Example 1 from Grisey's Accords Perdus 

So, quick thing to be said. Accords Perdus is a work for two horn based on the natural harmonic series of many horns. The end result is you have varying degrees of microtonality, when you consider and actually take the time to analyze the microtonality the piece becomes more complex sonically, and in turn more interesting. It is one thing to just get the pitches on the page but Grisey gives us much more to consider. The same way we analyze Beethoven's music to know the harmonies the same thing applies here, that is the analysis of the score. SO to example 1. We see that both horns have marked an E eighth flat, one could possibly assume that this is a moment of unison between the two horn. BUT (there wouldn't be a post if there wasn't a but) if you take time and compare harmonic 7 on the SI horn (the upper horn is currently using SI horn to get the E eight flat. The part is not in SI, just the use of SI horn will give the appropriate pitch) and harmonic 10 of the FA horn you would find out that the natural intonation of those harmonic series would place the pitches not in unison but actually ~17.5 cents apart. This kind of thing happens often in the work so one has to take time to really figure out what is going on, so that it can be conveyed to the listener in an obvious way.

I will be back later with part 2 which will talk about the last two points from my list of 4 in regards to Messiaen.


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