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 Post subject: Re: Mezza voce/sotto voce
PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 2:05 pm 
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Hi Kristinaolga,

I like reading how others explain things, so yes what you said helps a lot. Thank you! :)
I also like what Liszt said about Field.

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 Post subject: Re: Mezza voce/sotto voce
PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2012 9:50 pm 
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I might be a little late to the party here, but I couldn't help myself.

Sotto voce does literally mean "undervoice", but there's much more to it than that; it has a very specific connotation.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sotto_voce

Rather than merely being a dynamic instruction, it conveys an idea, which is the "lowering of one's voice for emphasis". As mentioned in the article, Galileo's famous utterance "Nonetheless, the Earth does move" is a good example of this. I contend that rather than showcasing his Italian, Chopin used this indication very deliberately. Since you're asking about both mezzo voce and sotto voce, I can only assume you're playing op. 48 no. 1, which contains both markings in that order. The second section, which is marked sotto voce, could not be more appropriately suited to that indication. It overflows with subtle, almost celestial profundity. Dynamically speaking, pianissimo is probably about right for that section, since it becomes piano after the crescendo.


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 Post subject: Re: Mezza voce/sotto voce
PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2012 3:09 am 
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Hello Sesshy, and welcome to Piano Society.

Thank you for the information. It's nice to have it included here. However, I was not practicing op. 48, no. 1 when I started this thread. To be honest, I cannot remember what piece triggered my question - it has after all been more than a year! ( I can hardly remember what I had for lunch today. :lol:)

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 Post subject: Re: Mezza voce/sotto voce
PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2012 10:08 am 
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I think that has pretty well cleared up "sotto voce", but looking back over this thread I see that conflicting interpretations of "mezza voce" have been given.

There is ambiguity in how this should be translated, there being basically two alternatives. One is "With a half voice" (meaning with half of a full voice, so in effect with a medium voice or, dynamically speaking, somewhere between mp and mf), and the other is "with half the voice" (meaning with half as much voice as previously, so in effect an instruction to reduce the volume or intensity by half). I think the latter interpretation is in general incorrect (except obviously where the voice has up to this point been full). For example, a m.v. instruction can mean you should get louder or more intense if the context is such that up to that point you have been hushed (much like what mf would mean after p). It could even be used as a reminder, lest one be tempted to let the volume creep up or down, and hence repeated instances of m.v. should not be taken to mean you should halve the volume each time.


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 Post subject: Re: Mezza voce/sotto voce
PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2012 11:18 am 
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Location: Adelaide, Australia
rainer wrote:
...the other is "with half the voice" (meaning with half as much voice as previously, so in effect an instruction to reduce the volume or intensity by half)..

Chopin's Mazurka opus 50 no. 3 has "mezza voce" at the beginning, so he can't have meant this interpretation.

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 Post subject: Re: Mezza voce/sotto voce
PostPosted: Sat Sep 01, 2012 6:28 pm 
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Location: Brazil
Considering the definition that we most agree with (mezza voce = "in a half voice", sotto voce = "under the voice"), I'd say that when we play a Chopin tune in a cantabile way, the voice is much more prominent than the rest of the piano writing. Mezza voce goes against this "proeminence": the tune is not that much prominent. Sotto voce is even less prominent than Mezza voce, or in a "mysterious" way, according to what Stu has said.

What are we going to do in order to achieve these effects depend on the musical context, the texture of the writing, the register we are playing and it even depends on the composer style. I know Chopin uses mezza voce a lot, and it was mistakenly written as mezzo forte in some editions. In some musicological studies, they could eventually "discover" that some specific composer could use mv and sv without any disctinction... though I never heard anything about it. But it's something to study, I think. (Musicologists have discovered that Bach used Tr. and mordent notation with no disctinction... they mean exactly the same. =D )

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