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Guest Nigel ALLCOAT
It all depends on the use you make of these devices. I agree that one is easily tempted into unmusical gadgetry. But on the other hand, I don't see anything wrong with using a sequencer to make registration changes you would want to make anyway, if you can make those changes more comfortably, and therefore with less disruption to the flow of the music.

 

Indeed - just as I said; a helpmate, no less, no more.

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Then there was the question of the space between movements of a Trio sonata and sometimes the proper space between works.

N

 

This seems an extraordinary argument to be used against sequencers/steppers! Pity the poor pianist who doesn't have stops to pull out and push in - how on earth are they to know how long to leave between movements of a Beethoven sonata?

 

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Guest Nigel ALLCOAT
This seems an extraordinary argument to be used against sequencers/steppers! Pity the poor pianist who doesn't have stops to pull out and push in - how on earth are they to know how long to leave between movements of a Beethoven sonata?

 

S

 

Could I suggest Musicianship?

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Could I suggest Musicianship?

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Good thought! Perhaps, then, it wasn't the sequencer that was to blame for the lack of space between movements of a trio sonata that you mentioned - perhaps it was a lack of musicianship!

 

You might even say that the sequencer would help in this aspect of playing as the player can judge the space using his/her musical judgement, rather than the space being dictated by the number of stops to be added or subtracted.

 

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  • 4 weeks later...
Surely it is no accident that Debussy totally ignored our instrument.*

 

* I am aware that there is one early essay - a prelude or something. I've not seen it, but I read somewhere that it doesn't sound like the familiar, mature Debussy, so wouldn't mind betting that it was a student exercise he was required to write. Does anyone know it?

 

Yes, I have a copy of it - a Fugue in four voices on a theme of Massenet, written by Debussy for one of his Conservatoire exams. It's published by Doblinger, who seem to be bringing out quite a lot of rare and early works by "great" composers. Whether or not this is a worthwhile exercise is a matter for debate, and I suspect that those arguing against the venture would probably win - it's not a great piece, not even recognisable as Debussy in the way that his mature works are. In fact, if you take a look at the preface (complete with a photocopied page of the original ms) you'll discover that it was originally written in open score with C clefs for the upper three voices, and has little analytical notes (subject, countersubject etc.) left by both Debussy and his professor. You could just as easily play it with a string quartet or on the piano... It might make for a novel bit of programming in a recital, or serve incognito as a voluntary in church, but there's nothing commendable that could be said about it.

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Although far from being present-day, Vierne and Dupré would qualify, I think. Vierne definitely changed his registration practises in the Pièces de Fantaisie, after his American tour (the most blatant example being Fantômes). Dupré, too, was influenced by those instruments, and by his own experimenting at Meudon (e.g. Vision op.44, which according to Graham Steed was directly influenced by the sequencer he had installed during the 1940s).

 

Ditto Widor, in his later symphonies - by all accounts, he found the "Gothique" quite a challenge to play at St Sulpice. I'm sure I read somewhere that he ended up having to work out "pedalling" for the stop controls as well as for the actual pedal part! Of course, with a sequencer or stepper, the problems posed by registration are far less problematic.

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Yes, I have a copy of it - a Fugue in four voices on a theme of Massenet, written by Debussy for one of his Conservatoire exams. It's published by Doblinger, who seem to be bringing out quite a lot of rare and early works by "great" composers. Whether or not this is a worthwhile exercise is a matter for debate, and I suspect that those arguing against the venture would probably win - it's not a great piece, not even recognisable as Debussy in the way that his mature works are. In fact, if you take a look at the preface (complete with a photocopied page of the original ms) you'll discover that it was originally written in open score with C clefs for the upper three voices, and has little analytical notes (subject, countersubject etc.) left by both Debussy and his professor. You could just as easily play it with a string quartet or on the piano... It might make for a novel bit of programming in a recital, or serve incognito as a voluntary in church, but there's nothing commendable that could be said about it.

Thank you. Presumably, then, Debussy did not write this with any particular instrumentation in mind and it has been editorially appropriated to our instrument simply because it is a fugue. In that case his disregard for the organ was indeed absolute.

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