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Unpopular Opinions (Read 2109 times)

Offline lettersquash

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Re: Unpopular Opinions
«Reply #50 on: February 25, 2021, 08:46:36 PM »
I'm intrigued by the silent practice keyboard, too, ted. But surely (j_tour) there's a sweet spot between a sheet of felt and a concert grand. Surely all that's needed is either:
a) an electric keyboard with the power switch in the off position, or
b) any other keyboard of suitable length, with a spring mechanism under the keys for resistance. I reckon this could be about 1 1/2 inches high and 6-8 inches deep and wouldn't weigh much. I know - you can't get them off the shelf!

The latter could be constructed with an adjustment for the tension very easily (raising the board below the keys' springs) if that's needed. I don't suppose most EPs have a tension adjuster. But if you don't want to adjust the tension, you could find a cheap s/h EP, rip most of the guts out of it, just leaving the keyboard in, and Bob's yer uncle. Or am I missing something?
Schwencke dumped in the middle of Bach's Prelude, and Gounod tried to polish it.

Offline compline

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Re: Unpopular Opinions
«Reply #51 on: February 25, 2021, 08:54:29 PM »
Quote
Music is not a language and transmits no meaning.  Meaning is imposed by the listening mind.



 




Hi Ted...


As I understand it, deconstructionism aims at taking a text of piece or music  and saying that it is the reader or the listener that imposes the meaning.  I tend to favour the more traditional view, which is that when we look at a book or piece of music , it is the author or the composer who is trying to convey something to us, and that is what we try to discover. So on that line, music has a language and a grammar that is set out by the composer  which it is up to us to try to understand.   I think it is a bit like the old argument about languages and history,  do you attempt to enter an ancient world on its terms, or do you try to impose your own view on things.   I myself do not find the deconstruction movement very helpful.


Online j_tour

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Re: Unpopular Opinions
«Reply #52 on: February 26, 2021, 02:31:35 AM »
But surely (j_tour) there's a sweet spot between a sheet of felt and a concert grand.
...
The latter could be constructed with an adjustment for the tension very easily (raising the board below the keys' springs) if that's needed. I don't suppose most EPs have a tension adjuster. But if you don't want to adjust the tension, you could find a cheap s/h EP, rip most of the guts out of it, just leaving the keyboard in, and Bob's yer uncle. Or am I missing something?

Yeah.  Well Ted's really the guy who knows about the Virgil Practice Clavier. 

Thinking more about it, although I have a Rhodes piano from 1976 with its infamously sluggish action (this particular example is actually pretty nice), but TBH, I never get around to playing on it unplugged (it makes a very faint sound from the mechanical tines (they're like tuning forks for each of the keys), overwhelmed by the mechanical sound of the action. 

Which isn't a bad action:  you can do repeated notes....well, quick enough for how I use them.

But, I guess in the end I like to have the ear-finger connection, to be able to hear physically what I'm playing. 

Probably because it's just plain nice sounding!  Well, you know, sometimes!

There's another long thread/argument/discussion about the limits of ear-training, but while I cherish being able to have developed a decent enough inner ear, I can't claim that I can hear any more than the average semi-competent musician by looking at a score.

About music as a language?  No, I'm not even getting involved in that discussion!  I don't actually know of any rigorous phenomenological analyses of music, besides some pages in Ingarden's studies, but, no, I just think music is music, and that's plenty for me.
My name is Nellie, and I take pride in helping protect the children of my community through active leadership roles in my local church and in the Boy Scouts of America.  Bad word make me sad.

Offline walther_von_stolzing

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Re: Unpopular Opinions
«Reply #53 on: March 24, 2021, 08:08:49 AM »
Lots of interesting posts, even though I disagree with 99% of every opinion presented here :)
So here is an unpopular opinion of my own:

I strongly believe that the piano music of J.S Bach should be played without ornaments.
Of course there should be exceptions where the ornaments are “hard coded” into the music, but in every instance where there is a marking in the score of a “trill, mordent etc”, it should be ignored by the pianist.
Why?
Not only will the music be much easier to play, but it will also be MUCH more beautiful and mature. The insistence of realizing all the ornaments in Bach’s music is simply extremely childish and stupid. It shows not only a poor taste when it comes to performance , but also, more worrisome, a serious mental immaturity that that has infected even the most renown music establishments responsible for teaching the younger generation of pianist.

(I hope I don’t need to go into hiding after publicly stating this opinion)

Offline lettersquash

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Re: Unpopular Opinions
«Reply #54 on: March 24, 2021, 11:10:00 AM »
Lots of interesting posts, even though I disagree with 99% of every opinion presented here :)

Hehe. I can't help discussing your opinion, which is obviously wrong! ;)

Quote
So here is an unpopular opinion of my own:

I strongly believe that the piano music of J.S Bach should be played without ornaments.
I view shoulds with suspicion, whether they tell me to do something or not do it. In my view, a should relates to an objective, whether we realise it or not. So you should/shouldn't play the ornaments depending on what your goals are for your Bach playing - if it's to pass an exam it'll be different from enjoying the odd tinkle on the ivories in private or developing a modern interpretation. Should/shouldn't one play Bach in a jazz style? I see no reason to deny ourselves freedom of expression in music, as we do in other art forms. The unstated objective or injunction is often something like, "to be true to how Bach wanted it to be played," but (a) we've a dim view of that and probably always will have, (b) maybe Bach wanted us to run with his inventions and make them our own, or (c) maybe Bach wanted everything nailed down and as he intended it, but - were he alive today - reverse that opinion and realise he was too up himself.

If we go with "how the master wanted it" - and I'm definitely no expert at all - I've read that JSB came from an older tradition that valued freedom of expression and the player's interpretive judgement, whereas the next generation began to want everything precise and wrote books about how everything should be played (CPE Bach, IIRC, was a stickler for the correct everything, from ornaments to fingering).

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Of course there should be exceptions where the ornaments are “hard coded” into the music, but in every instance where there is a marking in the score of a “trill, mordent etc”, it should be ignored by the pianist.
That leaves logical room for contradiction - unless you mean by "hard coded" the ones written in original scores, where we have them. "Should" we always use the autograph or check if the modern edition we've got matches it precisely?

Quote
Why?
Not only will the music be much easier to play, but it will also be MUCH more beautiful and mature.
Sometimes doing something hard is better, and beauty is in the ear of the beholder. It also depends on the instrument chosen, particularly what kind of sustain it has. I suspect that the preponderance of ornaments in Baroque music might be down to the popularity of the harpsichord, clavichord, lute and - as much of Bach's music was probably written on and for - the lute-harpsichord, with their relatively short sustain and little dynamic range, leaving rather boring holes in slow pieces unless an ornament is added to extend the note. Some Eastern string music - balalaika? - might play the same note repeatedly until it's time to change to the next one in the melody, but that's awkward on a keyboard. So, on a bowed instrument, a Sarabande can be gorgeous with minimal ornamentation - a long note can sweep in, sustain for seconds, even get louder to a final short stop - on a harpsichord it just goes plink. And you do want to cut through the murmuring of the restless bewigged throng in the drawing-room, after all.

Besides, the alternating notes of ornaments add to the harmonies that are playing and make a richer sense of it.

Quote
The insistence of realizing all the ornaments in Bach’s music is simply extremely childish and stupid. It shows not only a poor taste when it comes to performance , but also, more worrisome, a serious mental immaturity that that has infected even the most renown music establishments responsible for teaching the younger generation of pianist.

(I hope I don’t need to go into hiding after publicly stating this opinion)
I agree with your view that having to play them all is stupid, I just think reversing that is no improvement.
Schwencke dumped in the middle of Bach's Prelude, and Gounod tried to polish it.

Offline joe falchetto

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Re: Unpopular Opinions
«Reply #55 on: March 24, 2021, 06:44:52 PM »
Current opinion of mine - it may change, I'm learning.

There are no specific pianistic techniques, every piece and situation is different and requires its own approach. There are however general principles (like efficient movements, no unnecessary tension) which, applied to the specific piece and the specific pianist, translate in one, or more, preferable way of executing a movement/passage.

Offline nw746

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Re: Unpopular Opinions
«Reply #56 on: March 27, 2021, 03:42:38 AM »
I strongly believe that the piano music of J.S Bach should be played without ornaments.
Of course there should be exceptions where the ornaments are “hard coded” into the music, but in every instance where there is a marking in the score of a “trill, mordent etc”, it should be ignored by the pianist.
At least one famous pianist seems to have shared this opinion:


I think it sounds weird, but I guess I'm too used to hearing this piece on the harpsichord.

Online j_tour

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Re: Unpopular Opinions
«Reply #57 on: March 27, 2021, 03:54:44 AM »
I think it sounds weird, but I guess I'm too used to hearing this piece on the harpsichord.

I thought it sounded dastardly at first, but I don't know how I've never heard Kempff's version before.

It's oddly captivating. 

No, I wouldn't play it like that, but he hits the right notes!  I'd never even considered this option, even just fooling around.  Yes, for analysis, but not for actually playing the works this way.

What a strange idea, and yet I suspect that's how most people schematize these works in the subconscious:  thinking about structure and so on.

Odd.

But compelling.

I shall search out the rest of Kempff's solo keyboard works of Bach:  probably some good ideas to use in there.

////////////

Oh, in the spirit of the thread "unpopular opinions":  instead of acting upon the old maxim "love thy neighbor," one should instead adopt the notion that one should exact petty acts of vengeance upon thine literal neighbor. 

You know, for fun and all that.
My name is Nellie, and I take pride in helping protect the children of my community through active leadership roles in my local church and in the Boy Scouts of America.  Bad word make me sad.

Offline walther_von_stolzing

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Re: Unpopular Opinions
«Reply #58 on: March 27, 2021, 05:34:30 AM »
At least one famous pianist seems to have shared this opinion:

Nice find!
I got an eerie feeling of "what have I done?" when I first listened to that :)

I guess the saying; "if you want it done right, you must do it yourself" applies to Bach more than any other composer.

Offline lettersquash

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Re: Unpopular Opinions
«Reply #59 on: March 27, 2021, 06:58:38 PM »
Hmmm, very interesting. I miss the ornaments in the Aria, and yet I want to hear it with even fewer. It's a curious mix - some entirely dropped, the next, very 'Baroque', especially noticable at such a high tempo. But he's certainly not played the "hard-coded" ones.
https://christianbraumann.de/goldberg-variations_aria-autograph/
Schwencke dumped in the middle of Bach's Prelude, and Gounod tried to polish it.

Offline lelle

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Re: Unpopular Opinions
«Reply #60 on: March 27, 2021, 11:56:28 PM »
Lots of interesting posts, even though I disagree with 99% of every opinion presented here :)
So here is an unpopular opinion of my own:

I strongly believe that the piano music of J.S Bach should be played without ornaments.
Of course there should be exceptions where the ornaments are “hard coded” into the music, but in every instance where there is a marking in the score of a “trill, mordent etc”, it should be ignored by the pianist.
Why?
Not only will the music be much easier to play, but it will also be MUCH more beautiful and mature. The insistence of realizing all the ornaments in Bach’s music is simply extremely childish and stupid. It shows not only a poor taste when it comes to performance , but also, more worrisome, a serious mental immaturity that that has infected even the most renown music establishments responsible for teaching the younger generation of pianist.

Care to explain why in more detail? Why would following Bach's instructions be any more childish than playing the notes he wrote into the score? After all, his ornaments are also the notes he wanted to be played, just written in a different way.

Offline nw746

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Re: Unpopular Opinions
«Reply #61 on: March 29, 2021, 12:35:29 PM »
One difficulty is that, given the nature of Bach's often written-out ornamentation, there is often no right answer for what the "unornamented" version of (say) the Goldberg Variations might look like. I came up with this, quickly had second thoughts for individual bars, and also realised that if I put the task of producing an unornamented version of the aria to a class of thirty students I'd get thirty different answers.


Offline lettersquash

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Re: Unpopular Opinions
«Reply #62 on: March 29, 2021, 04:45:21 PM »
One difficulty is that, given the nature of Bach's often written-out ornamentation, there is often no right answer for what the "unornamented" version of (say) the Goldberg Variations might look like.
I agree, and before that question is the question of why one would want to "dis-ornament" a master's work in the first place? I ask genuinely as I don't know - perhaps he wrote the ornaments in, but intended them to only be used on the second pass of the section (as players tend to increase ornamentation then), or just on Palm Sundays. If they are part of the structure of the work, removing them is a bit like removing notes from Beethoven or Britten, just because you can simplify it.

One thing I find odd/interesting about this is that ornaments are sometimes not just additional notes augmenting a "default" note, they adjust the timing of that note, changing the feel and musical sense of the phrase entirely. It's particularly true of grace-notes, where the grace note might be played at the beat instead of the final note, and the latter delayed, sometimes quite substantially, although in other pieces they seem to be played early and the landing note is as it's written. MIDI interpreters tend to assume the latter, which is crazy when the intention is the former. Hear attached - I don't think I can upload a MIDI file, so I recorded it to mp3 - enjoy!

Quote
...if I put the task of producing an unornamented version of the aria to a class of thirty students I'd get thirty different answers...
Indeed, as you would if you asked them to take notes out of a piece of Mozart or Mahler.
Schwencke dumped in the middle of Bach's Prelude, and Gounod tried to polish it.

Online brogers70

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Re: Unpopular Opinions
«Reply #63 on: March 29, 2021, 07:08:38 PM »
I agree, and before that question is the question of why one would want to "dis-ornament" a master's work in the first place? I ask genuinely as I don't know - perhaps he wrote the ornaments in, but intended them to only be used on the second pass of the section (as players tend to increase ornamentation then), or just on Palm Sundays. If they are part of the structure of the work, removing them is a bit like removing notes from Beethoven or Britten, just because you can simplify it.

I think the argument would be that Bach wrote the ornaments to make up for the harpsichords inability to change dynamics, so that rather than a sfzorzando he'd write in a mordent, say. So the ornaments would be primarily ways of making more noise in order to shape a phrase. Since you can control the volume on a piano, such things are not necessary and they just distract from the main line.

I don't agree with that argument at all. Singers (even singers singing Bach) ornamented a great deal, and they have no trouble controlling dynamics without ornaments; likewise wind and stringed instruments, so I think the premise, that ornaments are mainly there to make up for the harpsichord's inability to control volume is incorrect.


Offline lelle

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Re: Unpopular Opinions
«Reply #64 on: March 31, 2021, 09:09:16 PM »
I think the argument would be that Bach wrote the ornaments to make up for the harpsichords inability to change dynamics, so that rather than a sfzorzando he'd write in a mordent, say. So the ornaments would be primarily ways of making more noise in order to shape a phrase. Since you can control the volume on a piano, such things are not necessary and they just distract from the main line.


Yeah, that's bollocks! :D The main line with the ornaments IS the main line. Else he wouldn't have written it with the ornaments.

Online brogers70

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Re: Unpopular Opinions
«Reply #65 on: March 31, 2021, 09:26:01 PM »
Yeah, that's bollocks! :D The main line with the ornaments IS the main line. Else he wouldn't have written it with the ornaments.

You know I agree with you, right?

Offline lelle

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Re: Unpopular Opinions
«Reply #66 on: March 31, 2021, 09:35:02 PM »
You know I agree with you, right?

Yes, of course, sorry if that wasn't clear! I was taking aim at that opinion that you also disagree with, not you  ;)

Offline walther_von_stolzing

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Re: Unpopular Opinions
«Reply #67 on: April 03, 2021, 11:17:29 AM »
So I didn't get much love from my first post about ornaments, but I won't let that stop me from sharing another unpopular opinion.

When playing a Bach fugue on the piano, you should NOT bring out, or emphasize the main subject, except at the very first exposition.
This annoys me to no end!
Why does everybody and their grandma, always emphasize the main subject? Are they worried the dimwitted listener had forgotten it already?  "What was the main subject again? Oh there it is ,thank God. Wait, I am confused, how did it go again? Ahh of course! Thank you for reminding me again, and again, and again..."

Bonus Opinion:

Each variation of Bachs "The Art of Fugue" is supposed to be performed in a different key. Every variation is written down in D minor, which makes it OBVIOUS that Bach intended the performer to play every variation in a key of his own choosing.
The most natural is to start the first variation in D-minor, and the go backwards through the circle of fifths. Or just follow the path from "The Well Tempered Clavier".  Sadly "The Art of Fugue" has just 14 variations, since Bach died before finishing. Most probable it would end up having 24 variations, which would give us the 12 major and 12 minor keys.

Online brogers70

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Re: Unpopular Opinions
«Reply #68 on: April 03, 2021, 08:34:38 PM »
When playing a Bach fugue on the piano, you should NOT bring out, or emphasize the main subject, except at the very first exposition.
This annoys me to no end!
Why does everybody and their grandma, always emphasize the main subject? Are they worried the dimwitted listener had forgotten it already?  "What was the main subject again? Oh there it is ,thank God. Wait, I am confused, how did it go again? Ahh of course! Thank you for reminding me again, and again, and again..."

Actually, I've been told that not only is your opinion about this not unpopular, but that it is in fact a longstanding, academic tradition of correct Bach interpretation at the piano that entrances of the subject in a fugue should never be "brought out" above the other voices. Even if, as seems to be your experience, almost every piano recording of a Bach fugue I've ever heard does indeed emphasize the subject somewhat whenever it appears.

Personally, I think that while anything can be overdone, there's no harm in subtly emphasizing the subject, particularly when it's been modified by inversion or augmentation or diminution. Banging it out to the exclusion of all else, of course, is crude.