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Mozart & Scriabin Perfect as a Crystal
On her debut album for the Nave label, the Russian pianist Zlata Chochieva risks an unusual coupling: piano pieces by Mozart and Scriabin. In an interview, German magazine Pianist asked her what connects the two composers. Read more >>

Topic: Composer asking about using 3 staves...  (Read 10802 times)

Offline Billy

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Composer asking about using 3 staves...
on: December 13, 2003, 08:43:25 PM
Hello, everyone.  I'm a composer, and I'm currently putting the finishing touches on a piano trio.  I have always tried to avoid using 3 staves for a piano part, but I think I've encountered a situation where I need to use three staves: the left hand alternates between low, sustained octaves and chords in the middle register, while the right hand is playing a wide range of notes in the upper register.  There just isn't any room on two staves for all of the music!
My question is this:  how do pianists feel about reading three staves?  Is it particularly hard to read/understand the first time through? Should I really, really avoid this, or is it ok sometimes?  
Thanks in advance,
Billy

Offline Sketchee

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Re: Composer asking about using 3 staves...
Reply #1 on: December 13, 2003, 10:09:58 PM
It's rare enough, but I really don't mind it.  If it prevents music from being cluttered or makes clear a musical idea then it's understandable.  The cases Ive seen are Liszt uses a third staff in Un Sospiro for the melody which changes between hands and Ravel uses a third staff at the end of the last movement of Ma Mere l'Oye (V. Le jardin feerique) to show the 8va glissandos in the right and the left hand taking up both the bass and treble.

If you have a justified reason for doing so and aren't using three staffs for the novelty then it's fine.  Mark m.d. or l.h. or whatever the staff is being used for and just try to make your intent clear to the performer.
Sketchee
https://www.sketchee.com [Paintings. Music.]

Offline allchopin

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Re: Composer asking about using 3 staves...
Reply #2 on: December 17, 2003, 03:00:18 AM
I have played Liszt's (of course  ::)) transcription of Ave Maria, using 3 staves throughout.  It was at times confusing, but, like Sketch said, it defines the melody and what you are intending to hear at that point in the piece.  He used upward bars for notes to be played with the right hand, and downward for left hand.
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Offline Billy

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Re: Composer asking about using 3 staves...
Reply #3 on: December 17, 2003, 05:58:49 AM
Thanks for the help - it's great to be able to get a pianist's input on this kind of thing before I get the score and parts ready.  

Offline eddie92099

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Re: Composer asking about using 3 staves...
Reply #4 on: December 17, 2003, 06:14:53 AM
There is a lot of writing done over four staves too, but I wonder if any composer has written for piano over five...
Ed

Offline allchopin

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Re: Composer asking about using 3 staves...
Reply #5 on: December 17, 2003, 11:47:15 PM
I thought you had written somewhere that Alkan or someone used 8 or so staves.... ?
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Offline eddie92099

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Re: Composer asking about using 3 staves...
Reply #6 on: December 18, 2003, 02:13:48 PM
No, I said Alkan wrote 8 part fugues,
Ed

Offline liszmaninopin

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Re: Composer asking about using 3 staves...
Reply #7 on: December 18, 2003, 02:19:57 PM
Yes, sometimes composers write for ridiculous quantities of staves.  The end of Sorabji's O. C. uses five, and there is a point in Violette's Sonata 7 where the score utilizes six staves.  To tell you the truth, it is very hard to sight read as one's eyes are jumping all over the paper, not just moving from left to right.

I would suggest that you use 3 staves if it is really necessary to show your musical ideas; but don't overuse the setup if possible because it does make it somewhat more difficult to sightread.  Really, though, it is your composition, and if you need to use 3 staves, use it; pianists can always memorize the music.

Offline cziffra

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Re: Composer asking about using 3 staves...
Reply #8 on: December 24, 2003, 02:46:06 AM
anne boyd tended to compose across a whole page, using however many staves were needed at each moment, sometimes using more than 10.  it's an interesting way to do it, but, ultmately, quite unneccesary.  

i think she just thinks that way.

:o 8 part fugues?  have any been recorded?
What it all comes down to is that one does not play the piano with ones fingers; one plays the piano with ones mind.-  Glenn Gould

Offline liszmaninopin

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Re: Composer asking about using 3 staves...
Reply #9 on: December 24, 2003, 04:50:19 AM
More than 10 staves?  That seems excessive.  I have tried sight reading Sorabji's Gulistan, which is mostly on four staves, and that is hard enough as it is.

Chitch

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Re: Composer asking about using 3 staves...
Reply #10 on: December 31, 2003, 12:31:03 AM
Wow...10 staves...he loves his job...

Offline cziffra

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Re: Composer asking about using 3 staves...
Reply #11 on: December 31, 2003, 01:37:00 PM
yes, ANNE does love HIS job, he must... :P
What it all comes down to is that one does not play the piano with ones fingers; one plays the piano with ones mind.-  Glenn Gould
 

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