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Need some advice on tempo markings in piano composition (Read 7210 times)

Offline pairra

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Need some advice on tempo markings in piano composition
« on: January 23, 2013, 05:44:25 PM »
I'm a bit perplexed about how to notate what I want.

The piece is fairly slow and expressive, but:
- in the middle I want it to accelerate for about two measures
- then maintain that tempo for about four measures
- then accelerando again for five measures
- then a ritardano for one measure
- the finally going back to the original tempo.

I don't want the pianist to return to the original tempo until the end, but I also don't want the performer accelerating the entire section.

This is my temp fix, but I know it's not right and wouldn't make sense to anyone accept me:

ms. 33/34   -- accel.------------
- with the dashes indicating to speed up for those two measures

ms. 35-39 -- nothing
- my hope was the pianist would "interpert" this keep the last tempo as the main tempo for this section.

ms. 40-44 -- accel. -------------
- speeding up for these measures

ms. 45/46 - rit.

ms. 47 - a tempo

So, fellow pianists, any thoughts on how to make this clearer?
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Offline andreslr6

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Re: Need some advice on tempo markings in piano composition
«Reply #1 on: January 23, 2013, 11:11:09 PM »
Yep, it's all good, just for the 35-39 section I suggest you put an indication on around what tempo you're thinking, like faster than tempo I, or presto, or allegro so that on the first accel you write it like this: "accel al tempo X" (X being that tempo from bars 35-39) or even mark it as accelerando until bar 35.

Now, there's a piece that ask for exactly that, Alban's Berg piano sonata op.1, I suggest you take a look at it so that you see a clear example and get an idea of how to do it. The section I'm talking about starts from bar 70 to bar 99. The accel. asked as yours is in bar 77, he marks it poco a poco accel. e cresc. bis FFF, meaning you have to accelerate until the FFF which appears in bar 88. Also, study all of the piece, it's very interesting to look at all the explicit markings he wrote down, from expression marks (like breathing marks as in singers and wind instruments) to precise accelerando and ritardando markings.

link: http://imslp.org/wiki/Piano_Sonata,_Op.1_%28Berg,_Alban%29

Offline ajspiano

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Re: Need some advice on tempo markings in piano composition
«Reply #2 on: January 23, 2013, 11:33:34 PM »
I suspect if you wanted to be more explicit you could mark the new tempo post the accel..

such as.. (and in the extreme :P)

adagio               accel..................vivace.

or something like that..  don't feel like you have to follow any strict rules..  you need only view a bit of satie to realise you can write whatever you feel is needed to get your point across.

Offline j_menz

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Re: Need some advice on tempo markings in piano composition
«Reply #3 on: January 24, 2013, 12:05:56 AM »
you can write whatever you feel is needed to get your point across.

Indeed. You can even use plain english.
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Offline lateromantic

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Re: Need some advice on tempo markings in piano composition
«Reply #4 on: January 24, 2013, 06:10:28 PM »
Indeed. You can even use plain english.

I had a similar situation to pairra's in a fugal section in my fourth piano sonata, where I wanted the performer to ritard slightly at each successive entry of the subject, resulting in successively slower tempos.  So I wrote "poco rit.------" at each of those points, but also included a more detailed English-language explanation as one of several notes to the performer at the end of the whole composition.

Italian may be the traditional "language of music," and I use traditional Italian terms where appropriate, but there's no rule that says that always and henceforth all expressive musical indications have to be in Italian.

Offline pairra

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Re: Need some advice on tempo markings in piano composition
«Reply #5 on: January 30, 2013, 04:03:54 PM »
Yep, it's all good, just for the 35-39 section I suggest you put an indication on around what tempo you're thinking, like faster than tempo I, or presto, or allegro so that on the first accel you write it like this: "accel al tempo X" (X being that tempo from bars 35-39) or even mark it as accelerando until bar 35.

Now, there's a piece that ask for exactly that, Alban's Berg piano sonata op.1, I suggest you take a look at it so that you see a clear example and get an idea of how to do it. The section I'm talking about starts from bar 70 to bar 99. The accel. asked as yours is in bar 77, he marks it poco a poco accel. e cresc. bis FFF, meaning you have to accelerate until the FFF which appears in bar 88. Also, study all of the piece, it's very interesting to look at all the explicit markings he wrote down, from expression marks (like breathing marks as in singers and wind instruments) to precise accelerando and ritardando markings.

link: http://imslp.org/wiki/Piano_Sonata,_Op.1_%28Berg,_Alban%29


Thanks. Good to know I was on the right track. And thanks for the link to the Sonata. I haven't heard it before and looks quite interesting. I was definitely racking my brain trying to think of a piece that had something similar, but couldn't think of any.

I suspect if you wanted to be more explicit you could mark the new tempo post the accel..

such as.. (and in the extreme :P)

adagio               accel..................vivace.

or something like that..  don't feel like you have to follow any strict rules..  you need only view a bit of satie to realise you can write whatever you feel is needed to get your point across.

I will definitely look at some Satie, then.

Indeed. You can even use plain english.

Lol. Thanks. Though, I always seem to run into the extreme composer who feels the need to lecture me about rules and how I'm doing something wrong, even though I spent hours researching and finding examples and thought I was doing it correctly.

I had a similar situation to pairra's in a fugal section in my fourth piano sonata, where I wanted the performer to ritard slightly at each successive entry of the subject, resulting in successively slower tempos.  So I wrote "poco rit.------" at each of those points, but also included a more detailed English-language explanation as one of several notes to the performer at the end of the whole composition.

Italian may be the traditional "language of music," and I use traditional Italian terms where appropriate, but there's no rule that says that always and henceforth all expressive musical indications have to be in Italian.

I like the idea of having a note, detailing the exact way you want it performed. Thanks!
Composer, pianist, teacher. The best trifecta of them all.