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"and The Glory Of The Lord"

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Slightly off-topic, in that it's more choral than organ-related...

 

Have any of you ever done (or heard others do) this Messiah chorus in a quasi-9/8 tempo, i.e. with (at least some of) the quavers played "inégale"? Having tried it a couple of time several years ago, I now find it near-impossible to sing it as printed (i.e. with the quavers "straight"). Could there be any justification for doing it "inégale" (apart from the fact that it works, and it's fun)?

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Funny how fashion - even in the 'period' world - comes/goes around. I like Pinnock's recording. Late 80s so no doubt dangerously passé now :( . I like it not just because Wotan sings The Trumpet Shall Sound (John Tomlinson), but because there's is simply no doctrinaire double-dotting or other faffing about. We even have full quaver upbeats in, for example, Behold the Lamb and genuine adagios (how many emotionless performances have you sung in where the conductor got you to scrub out every cadential Adagio?). In my opinion, Pinnock puts back a great deal that had been swept aside by 'Thou Shalt' performance practice trends of the post-war period, and to my ears, is actually more appropriate to the timbres of the historic instruments used. Happily, my much missed late Grandfather (who always sang it that way) preferred Pinnock too ;)

 

Try it in Spotify. Heartily recommended. Sample, for example, the delicious diminuendo in [All we like sheep] have goooooooooone astray.....

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Funny how fashion - even in the 'period' world - comes/goes around. I like Pinnock's recording. Late 80s so no doubt dangerously passé now :( . I like it not just because Wotan sings The Trumpet Shall Sound (John Tomlinson), but because there's is simply no doctrinaire double-dotting or other faffing about. We even have full quaver upbeats in, for example, Behold the Lamb and genuine adagios (how many emotionless performances have you sung in where the conductor got you to scrub out every cadential Adagio?). In my opinion, Pinnock puts back a great deal that had been swept aside by 'Thou Shalt' performance practice trends of the post-war period, and to my ears, is actually more appropriate to the timbres of the historic instruments used. Happily, my much missed late Grandfather (who always sang it that way in) preferred Pinnock too ;)

Rightly or wrongly, I tend to rely on gut feeling (e.g. Does it work? Is it logical?) rather than what was actually written, on the basis that there may then have been no accepted way of notating what was expected/intended. A quaver upbeat in Behold the Lamb just feels wrong and illogical, bearing in mind the rhythmic figures that follow (and, at the time, a quaver was the only accepted way of writing that upbeat, whatever was actually intended - wasn't it?).

As regards cadential Adagios, I tend to treat them more as indications of mood than of tempo.

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Rightly or wrongly, I tend to rely on gut feeling (e.g. Does it work? Is it logical?) rather than what was actually written, on the basis that there may then have been no accepted way of notating what was expected/intended. A quaver upbeat in Behold the Lamb just feels wrong and illogical, bearing in mind the rhythmic figures that follow (and, at the time, a quaver was the only accepted way of writing that upbeat, whatever was actually intended - wasn't it?).

As regards cadential Adagios, I tend to treat them more as indications of mood than of tempo.

Well, thankfully, there's room for every interpretation in Music. However, I would always start with a deferential attitude that the composer was sophisticated enough to write what he intended (even Watkins Shaw acknowledges this, to an extent, in his latest edition), unless there is convincing evidence that a particular convention applies. I do feel that, sadly, musicologists demonstrating their rediscovery of conventions took disproportionate precedence over the written source, in the decades 1950-1980. Conductors desperately wanting to belong, I s'pose. Thank heavens for pendulums (pendula?)

 

PS Behold isn't a French overture...why dot? Much more pathos and crunchy harmony if performed as written IMHO

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....there's is simply no doctrinaire double-dotting ....

 

O how I remember those arguments in Early Music (c early 90s?) about the dot. We should however remember that there is no such thing, documented or otherwise, as double dotting. Over dotting, yes; a flexible dot, yes, but nothing in the contemporary treatise about double dotting. Having continuoed for numerous Messiahs, I mental sigh appears in my mind when the conductor (fresh from some trendy recording) asks that the orchestra double dot, it shows a lack of any scholarly preparation on behalf of the maestro.

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O how I remember those arguments in Early Music (c early 90s?) about the dot. We should however remember that there is no such thing, documented or otherwise, as double dotting. Over dotting, yes; a flexible dot, yes, but nothing in the contemporary treatise about double dotting. Having continuoed for numerous Messiahs, I mental sigh appears in my mind when the conductor (fresh from some trendy recording) asks that the orchestra double dot, it shows a lack of any scholarly preparation on behalf of the maestro.

 

I'm not sure what the difference between over dotting and double dotting is. Surely if I tell an orchestra to double-dot the opening of Messiah they know exactly what I mean: lengthen the dotted notes and shorten the succeeding ones. Everyone who's ever opened Watkins Shaw knows that they weren't written as such (and I'm sure that includes Guilmant's trendy conductors and maestri).

 

I didn't know, though, that what I call "double-dotting" was going out of fashion again - I can't keep up any longer.

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I'm not sure what the difference between over dotting and double dotting is. Surely if I tell an orchestra to double-dot the opening of Messiah they know exactly what I mean: lengthen the dotted notes and shorten the succeeding ones. Everyone who's ever opened Watkins Shaw knows that they weren't written as such (and I'm sure that includes Guilmant's trendy conductors and maestri).

 

I didn't know, though, that what I call "double-dotting" was going out of fashion again - I can't keep up any longer.

 

The point about not calling it double dotting, is that there are tempi/occasions when something more than doubling is called for, tripling perhaps, or even 2 and a halfing. Anyway, my point is, that if we only refer to it as double dotting, we are mathematically working out our rhythm, as opposed to using the gut feeling already mentioned, that we are hoping our 18th century ancestors hoped that we would know how to do.

 

Rhythm throws up so many performance practice issues in the 18th century. The other thorny one, is the notation in 4/4 in continuo parts, alongside gigue movements in suites, in 12/8 in melody parts. What do you do when you get two quavers in the bass part. Natural reaction is to crotchet/quaver them, but I've heard eminient people do that most of the way in a movement, and then perhaps at a cadence, actually play two equal quavers.

 

I had one teacher who always preferred a bit of overdotting in the St Anne prelude in the opening bars, as a way of marking it out from the other thematic material.

 

If anyone has the (Sir) John Elliot G B minor mass, listen carefully to what he gets the singers to do in the Sanctus. Orchestra parts are all 12/8, with a lovely lilt to them. Then listen to the voice parts which are notated in 4/4 and with dotted notes. He gets the singers to swing 12/8 the dotted rhythms in the middle of phrases, but at Sabaoth at the ends of phrases, gets them to properly dot and overdot ever so slightly just to point out ends of phrases. Its one of the joys of that recording and I think the point is well made. (Off topic slightly, I also like the fact that there is a little flaw in the recording that they've just gone with. Its in the join between the last two movements of the Gloria wher they set off at a horse's gallop on the cum sancto, before he reins them in, delighted it stayed in, they are only human after all).

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Had menat to mention this earlier, but what does everybody do in something as mundane as Jesu Joy in the accomp? As a boy, our choirmaster religiously played the two quavers to clash with the three in the obbligato oboe melody. My personal opinion is driven by the speed that you take it at. Again, you're at the mercy of the conductor, but I have occasionally (when forced to play at a very leisurely tempo) done the same thing. My own preference for speed is a brisker dance-like three in a bar, where the class of 2 against three is so close together, that I do end up 'swinging' the quavers.

 

Its what jazz musicians and 18th century keyboard players have in common, except they called it note inegales!

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Had menat to mention this earlier, but what does everybody do in something as mundane as Jesu Joy in the accomp? As a boy, our choirmaster religiously played the two quavers to clash with the three in the obbligato oboe melody. My personal opinion is driven by the speed that you take it at. Again, you're at the mercy of the conductor, but I have occasionally (when forced to play at a very leisurely tempo) done the same thing. My own preference for speed is a brisker dance-like three in a bar, where the class of 2 against three is so close together, that I do end up 'swinging' the quavers.

Not to mention In Dulci Jubilo in the Orgelbüchlein!

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