Vox Humana Posted August 3, 2014 Share Posted August 3, 2014 I doubt that many forum members have much appetite for scholarly articles, but this one might be of interest to those who like to know about how things were done historically, even if (like me) they do not necessarily feel bound to follow the information in performance. I have long had a growing conviction that speeds during the Baroque era were often, if not usually, a great deal slower than very many performances we hear today, not only on the organ (the now-usual approach to Buxtehude seems especially wrong-headed to me), but also more generally, including in choral music. My convictions have been almost entirely empirical, so I was very pleased to find an article in an e-journal presenting hard evidence towards the same conclusion. It is Beverly Jerold's article Numbers and Tempo: 1630-1800 here: http://scholarship.claremont.edu/ppr/vol17/iss1/ I don't necessarily agree with every point Ms Jerold makes (I feel very unsure about the section "The mathematical possibilities of "half"), but overall the article seems to add up. I have often bemoaned how fast speeds can make Baroque music sound trite when it ought to sound noble, so I was rather tickled to see a quote towards the end of the article from Jean-Marie Leclair in 1753 making the exact same point translated with those very same words. It is nice to see Ms Jerold concluding that, in the end, it is the music that matters - but I have never yet come across a scholar who would disagree with that. One thing I will say: I found it immensely difficult when reading this article to comprehend the data about speeds without involuntarily cross-referencing to the internal, mental metronome I have developed over the years, courtesy of the real thing. It really did highlight the fundamental difference between them and us that Jerold points out at the beginning of her article. One needs to strip out these preconceptions and stop cross-referencing to received habits. When a contemporary described Bach's playing as very fast, this needs to be understood by the standards of his time, not ours.Incidentally, the May 2014 issue of the journal Early Music contains another article by Ms Jerold about notes inégales which is by far the most practical exposition of the rules that I have ever seen. It establishes definitively (so it seems) that notes inégales were not observed outside France (except by Muffat when deliberately writing in the French style). It also makes the interesting point that it was an aid to teaching students how to understand and feel rhythm (in an age without metronomes). Abstract here: http://em.oxfordjournals.org/content/42/2.toc Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
Please sign in to comment
You will be able to leave a comment after signing in
Sign In Now