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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Sat Aug 20, 2011 5:02 am 
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IMO, the best examples of this type of rubato are found in the modern pop diva performances, often deriving from melodies that are highly syncopated to begin with. I think this is probably the closest thing we have to the baroque opera diva, though the ornamentation style is entirely different. We don't get into it much because unfortunately the quality of the music is often lacking. There are some really fine singers out there being wasted. For an example of such, with a somewhat old-fashioned setting:

Beyoncé at Obama's inaugural ball

Poor Beyoncé...her musical expression is so limited by that steady accompaniment! :roll: :lol: Shouldn't they have followed her?? (Now that would have been chaos!) If you'll note...they didn't even miss a beat during her short cadenza-like thing. (Not a whole beat anyway.)

If we can conceive of it, we can do it too.

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"Z Czernym poznałem się na panie brat—na dwa fortepiana często z nim u niego grywałem. Dobry człowiek, ale nic więcej..." - Fryderyk Chopin


Last edited by Terez on Sat Aug 20, 2011 5:07 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Sat Aug 20, 2011 5:06 am 
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Thanks to Terez for that monumental exhibition of typing!
musical-md wrote:
...I have not ever heard this "2-layered rubato thingy" by a concert pianist, whether live or recorded...

musical-md wrote:
Again, show me the money! I want to HEAR a famous pianist doing this, otherwise it is nothing more that arcane myth.

Eddy, it seems that you are trying to win an argument here, rather than learn something. I already gave you an example (especially the passage starting at 0:30) and you said you couldn't tell what was going on. (Naturally it isn't going to be easy to hear: if it were too obvious, it would sound tasteless.) If you tell yourself enough times that something doesn't exist, then of course you won't perceive it.

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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Sat Aug 20, 2011 5:13 am 
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hanysz wrote:
Eddy, it seems that you are trying to win an argument here, rather than learn something. I already gave you an example (especially the passage starting at 0:30) and you said you couldn't tell what was going on. (Naturally it isn't going to be easy to hear: if it were too obvious, it would sound tasteless.) If you tell yourself enough times that something doesn't exist, then of course you won't perceive it.

I agree with the first part, but not necessarily that it's tasteless if it's too obvious. I think it's tasteless when it's tasteless. Beyoncé's liberties with the melody are very obvious. But are they tasteless? Perhaps they would be in Chopin's music because it's a different ballgame; he wrote the music so that it's appropriate to use it sometimes, sometimes not. But at the same time, the bel canto style in Chopin's music seems to always suggest this style to varying degrees over the course of the line. Sometimes more, sometimes less. It's passionate speech, and the music calls for varying degrees of passion. Lenz says that Chopin often criticized him for being over-declamatory, though. Worth noting is that Lenz was, above all, an admirer of Liszt.

Edit - With a quick search on YouTube, I found at least a few performances of the same song Beyoncé sang that venture into the 'tasteless'.

Christina Aguilera
Christina Aguilera 2

Both Christina and Beyoncé are 'obvious' with their melodic manipulations. Why is it that I find Beyoncé's performance incredibly tasteful, and Christina's tasteless? Christina does leave the melody a little further behind, indulging more often in ornamentation, and I think that has something to do with it, but it's not quite everything.

The Etta James original is not bad, but I think not as good as Beyoncé. Some of the related videos will take you to some live performances by James in her later years, and they definitely venture into the tasteless.

In other words, if one were to hear Christina Aguilera singing this song, one might find this singing style to be unmusical, but I think it's rather more difficult to come to that conclusion after listening to Beyoncé. Some have a knack for it, some don't, and there is all kinds of in between.

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"Z Czernym poznałem się na panie brat—na dwa fortepiana często z nim u niego grywałem. Dobry człowiek, ale nic więcej..." - Fryderyk Chopin


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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Sat Aug 20, 2011 6:42 am 
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@Terez. I am not trying to be argumentative, but I do feel that you and I are speaking beside one another. I don't see how an ensemble performance applies to this discussion. Any group of musicians can play with one improvising (Beyonce singing, e.g.). What does that prove? As mentioned many times before, this is very common in jazz; but once again this is not the subject. The subject I introduced in this thread was about the famed (or infamous) rubato that Chopin (a single player with a single mind) could reportedly produce, where a composed and rhythmically pre-defined melody (no matter what it's features or complexity) was in some manner adjusted in performance so that it did not have the same rhythmic allignment with the accompaniment as defined in the score. Chris, Joe and David (perhaps others) seem to appreciate this issue, but by showing me a sample of a score to discuss this subject, suggests that you are not getting the issue. It's just not the proper category of argument (I mean friendly argument here). In the passage that you show, all of the fioritura notes could be played within the given time (2nd half of 1st beat) so that the "fixed" 8th notes of the melody occured in proper relation to the accompaniment, whether with or without a ritardando. But this is not the subject.

@Alfonso. The rhythmic complexity of music does not speak to me (maybe others too) with regard to the independent tempo of a pianists hands such that a shift occurs when compared to the written score. This is about interpretation in performance, not composition.

@Alexander. As I said to you before, I really do respect what you have to say. I must admit that I am not in a pursuit to acquire some new ability that I never had before in seeking to be able to play with independent tempos in each hand, however momentarily it might be. I'm just a Doubting Thomas asking for the same evidence that the other Apostles had: I'll believe it when I [hear] it. Like others here, I have heard many great pianists and have even been trained by several too, so why was this not a part of my experience? Why is there no recorded works of Chopin by someone that we can que-up and listen to a pianist do this? (Certainly a free spirit like Lang Lang perhaps, would do this, no? Can anyone recall a spot?) I maintain that if this was some modification that in art music (Romantic for now) was so minute that a highly-trained individual might not appreciate it, then it would never have served as sufficient to gain a reputation and identity, and this is nothing more than a "Tempest in a Tea Cup." Again, what I find to be obvious, is the manner in which Chopin composes irregular groupings against patterend accompaniment, and believe that this effect might be heard as the suggested rubato, but of course it is nothing of the sort.

My impulse in the beginning, and even now still, is to discuss a fascinating and controversial idea of music. Of course I would love to win an argument, but I would rather participate in a lively exchange of ideas with some great people here. I have enjoyed this but I'm ready and willing to happily move on if anyone thinks it is becoming toxic or that we've covered it sufficiently (even exhaustively) already. :) I think I have some Hoffman playing Chopin. I wonder if he does it?

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"A smattering will not do. They must know all the keys, major and minor, and they must literally 'know them backwards.'" - Josef Lhevinne


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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Sat Aug 20, 2011 7:04 am 
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musical-md wrote:
@Terez. I am not trying to be argumentative, but I do feel that you and I are speaking beside one another. I don't see how an ensemble performance applies to this discussion. Any group of musicians can play with one improvising (Beyonce singing, e.g.). What does that prove?

Many things, having to do with many assertions you have made. It proves that this type of rubato is not tasteless or unmusical, as you asserted here. (And it has already been demonstrated that this type of rubato is not limited to 'one composer', though Chopin indeed made it famous among pianists.) It actually perfectly fits the description the rubato described by Tosi, Mozart, and Chopin's students, though we all know the style is different. The concept of stolen time is, however, the same. It proves that a singer is not necessarily limited in her musical expression by an accompanist who keeps time, which was your assertion in the opening post of this thread. It proves that there is nothing inherently 'disjointed' or 'amateurish' about a melody that goes against the grain of the accompaniment.

Quote:
As mentioned many times before, this is very common in jazz; but once again this is not the subject. The subject I introduced in this thread was about the famed (or infamous) rubato that Chopin (a single player with a single mind) could reportedly produce, where a composed and rhythmically pre-defined melody (no matter what it's features or complexity) was in some manner adjusted in performance so that it did not have the same rhythmic allignment with the accompaniment as defined in the score.

And yet, as your 'proofs' that Chopin could not have possibly played this way (despite multiple accounts agreeing that he did in fact play this way) have been your opinions that this type of rubato is necessarily unmusical, and your assertion that no pianist can do it. I agree it's more difficult for a pianist to do it, and I understand that many pianists such as yourself (conveniently) write it off as impossible for this reason. That's why I brought it up in the first place in Rich's thread; I wonder if pianists even consider trying to develop the technique. If Chopin could do it, then chances are we can too. Just because it was easy for him doesn't mean we shouldn't try because it's difficult for us. It certainly doesn't stop us from spending months working on his pieces that he could likely play without much practice at all.

Quote:
In the passage that you show, all of the fioritura notes could be played within the given time (2nd half of 1st beat) so that the "fixed" 8th notes of the melody occured in proper relation to the accompaniment, whether with or without a ritardando. But this is not the subject.

Oh, but it is. :wink:

Quote:
Like others here, I have heard many great pianists and have even been trained by several too, so why was this not a part of my experience? Why is there no recorded works of Chopin by someone that we can que-up and listen to a pianist do this?

I have addressed this question multiple times. Your continued stubbornness on the subject is yet another example of why the technique isn't cultivated. It's easier to pretend that it's not possible - or worse, that it's unmusical.

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"Z Czernym poznałem się na panie brat—na dwa fortepiana często z nim u niego grywałem. Dobry człowiek, ale nic więcej..." - Fryderyk Chopin


Last edited by Terez on Sat Aug 20, 2011 9:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Sat Aug 20, 2011 7:08 am 
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Okay, so the example I've provided so far is rather subtle. I'm not willing to spend hours trawling through recordings trying to judge which examples might be clearer, just to demonstrate something I already feel sure of. I do remember Kissin using this sort of rubato quite obviously in a live performance of Chopin mazurkas in the mid 1990s. I don't know whether he still plays this way; I haven't listened to him for some time (although I noticed his rubato, there were other aspects of his playing that didn't appeal to me). But it might be worth checking. I've been told that Ashkenazy (another pianist I admire but don't warm to) plays this way in certain Chopin nocturnes. You might also find examples of this rubato in performances of Mozart slow movements, especially in older recordings.

I'm not commenting on whether it's right to play this way, and certainly it's not something you hear at all often, but you'll notice it from time to time if you're looking out for it.

Ensemble performance applies to this discussion because it provides motivation. Pianists want (or wanted, before it became so unfashionable) to play this way in imitation of singers who did it so beautifully. And besides, you did earlier raise the question of whether an accompanist (pianist or orchestra) who "fails" to follow the singer is doing a bad job.

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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Sat Aug 20, 2011 8:31 am 
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On further thought, I think that Aguilera is just as skilled in terms of pure virtuosity as Beyoncé, and perhaps more so (her cadenzas are certainly more flamboyant), but I think part of her problem is just that she tries too hard. This is certainly possible with the Chopin rubato as well, and it calls to mind what I said earlier about Iddo Bar Shai, and Gülsin Onay. It may be that Lenz ventured into this territory, thus bringing upon himself Chopin's frustration. All accounts agree that Chopin was a discrete and moderate player as opposed to the flamboyance of Lenz's true hero Liszt. Chopin often ornamented his own compositions in performance and sometimes even encouraged his students to do so, but the story goes that Chopin was not happy when Liszt attempted to do this. To Liszt's credit, he seems to have recognized in a friendly professional way the differences between his rubato and Chopin's (as detailed in the longpost concerning his master classes), but I suspect that on that occasion he probably tried to elaborate on Chopin's music in his own style, and that the results were not all that tasteful (in Chopin's opinion, that is).

In defense of Eddy (and Joe, and Chris, and Saint-Saëns for that matter), [opinion=just idle speculation]...there may be something in the fact that women typically relate more to this rhythmic independence, as is evidenced by the fact that most believed his best female students were the truest to his tradition (with the exception of Karl Filtsch). Either the females, or the Poles. Maybe there's nothing in that, and maybe there is something in it. Many have speculated on possible significance in the fact that the jazz tradition, with its two-layered rubato and its reverence of improvisation, came from the Freedmen and their descendants in the US, and became passé over the course of the civil rights movement. Maybe repression makes one thirst for freedom a little bit more than the average guy. :wink:[/opinion]

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"Z Czernym poznałem się na panie brat—na dwa fortepiana często z nim u niego grywałem. Dobry człowiek, ale nic więcej..." - Fryderyk Chopin


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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Sat Aug 20, 2011 3:10 pm 
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Ok, as I seem to be at loggerheads with you Terez :) , meaning that I can't convince you of the terms of evidence that I need and you can't convince me that what you present is sufficient evidence, I think I will let this go now. I can't explain myself more clearly; I have really carefully tried to limit the discussion to the kernle of the issue: a 2-layered (composed melody appart from composed accompaniment) tempo disturbance (rubato) performed by a single pianist. Almost every evidence raised to support this questionable musical performing feature (BTW if you see the post you directed me to you'll see I never said "tasteless", only "unmusical") has been academic. You fail to recognize that I myself provided excellent historic reference early on to the notion that you support. Only Alexander tried to provide what I need - a recording of a pianist performing it - however I failed to appreciate it. If anyone could direct me to chapter and verse of a recording (a link would also be fabulous, OK necessary) where I can follow with my score and appreciate the dissociation between what I see and what I hear, I would really appreciate it!

Now, my audio engineer has arrived and I'm going to FINALLY get to trying to record something for you. :D

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"A smattering will not do. They must know all the keys, major and minor, and they must literally 'know them backwards.'" - Josef Lhevinne


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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Sat Aug 20, 2011 6:12 pm 
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Terez wrote:
techneut wrote:
I don't think this has anything to do with polyrhythm. I believe polyrhythm is basically quite easy to learn for everyone.

In the way that I described, by parsing it, it is. But there are two ways of approaching polyrhythm, and the other has very much to do with independence of the hands.

Quote:
But the kind of natural freedom between the hands (and maybe brain halfs ?) required for the 'Chopin rubato' seems to be given to very few. I don't even hear that in jazz pianists.

I think this is at least partly because the technique isn't cultivated. I think some can do it naturally, but more could do it with practice (which again should probably be focused on things like polyrhythmic etudes and playing rubato with a metronome).

In more complex polyrhythms one cannot rely on counting. One must concentrate on each hand separately and listen to it so that it is smooth but this must happen when both hands are playing together. How many people out there can do it?

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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Sat Aug 20, 2011 6:21 pm 
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Terez wrote:
From Eigeldinger, Chopin: Pianist and Teacher (an indispensable book for the Chopin-lover; keep in mind this is only a small tidbit from the book). I will also give the footnotes since they are so instructive.

Streicher via Niecks wrote:
[Chopin] required adherence to the strictest rhythm, hated all lingering and dragging, misplaced rubatos, as well as exaggerated ritardandos. 'Je vous prie de vous asseoir' [Pray do take a seat] he said on such an occasion with gentle mockery.

Mikuli wrote:
In keeping time Chopin was inexorable, and some readers will be surprised to learn that the metronome never left his piano. Even in his much maligned tempo rubato,[92] the hand responsible for the accompaniment would keep strict time, while the other hand, singing the melody, would free the essence of the musical thought from all rhythmic fetters, either by lingering hesitantly or by eagerly anticipating the movement with a certain impatient vehemence akin to passionate speech.
Note 92, Eigeldinger wrote:
Of those who heard Chopin play, rarely did any criticize his rubato. Those who did were non-Poles: Berlioz (see p. 272) (below) who was little of a pianist and whose symphonic aesthetic was quite contrary to Chopin's, and Mendelssohn (see p. 267) (below) who expressly declared allegiance to a more metrical conception. Moscheles's sudden change of mind (see note 97) is significant; he recognized, though, that Chopin's music in the hands of other players could well degenerate into mere lack of rhythm [Taktlosigkeit]. We know how much any such accusation irritated Chopin if directed against himself (see Peruzzi/Niecks, p 339). The quotations reproduced here concerning Chopin's rubato all reject this accusation and come from the most reliable pupils.

In fact, Mikuli is referring here to generations of pianists subsequent to Chopin's; victims of a pseudo-tradition, they submitted his music to agogic distortions in the name of the vague and convenient term 'rubato'. This practice was in vogue from before the second half of the nineteenth century up to the 1930s. The statements where Chopin's pupils denounce such abuses - which Chopin was accused at the time of having fathered - all date from that period: Streicher (around 1879), Mikuli (1879), Mathias (1897), Viardot/Saint-Saëns (1910). Kleczyński - a pupil of some of Chopin's pupils - reacted similarly in 1880. It was only with the gradual return to respecting the letter of scores (which carries its own dangers), from the years 1930–1940 or so, that this type of pseudo-rubato disappeared from most playing.
Berlioz via Eigeldinger p272 wrote:
Chopin was impatient with the constraints of meter; in my opinion he pushed rhythmic independence much too far [...] Chopin could not play in time.
Mendelssohn via Eigeldinger p267 wrote:
...as a pianist Chopin is now one of the greatest of all - doing things as original as Paganini does on the violin, and bringing about miracles that one would never have believed possible. Hiller too is a remarkable player, vigorous with a touch of coquetry. Both, however, labor somewhat under the Parisian tendency of overdoing passion and despair, and too often lose sigh of calm, discretion and the purely musical; I on the other hand perhaps do this too little - and so we all three supplemented and, I believe, learned from each other... (Letter to his mother, Düsseldorf, 23 May 1834)

Viardot via Saint-Saëns wrote:
Through Mme Viardot [...] I learned the true secret of tempo rubato [... where] the accompaniment holds its rhythm undisturbed while the melody wavers capriciously, rushes or lingers, sooner or later to fall back upon its axis. This way of playing is very difficult since it requires complete independence of the two hands;[93] and those lacking this give both themselves and others the illusion of it by playing the melody in time and dislocating the accompaniment so that it falls beside the beat; or else - worst of all - content themselves with simply playing one hand after the other.[94] It would be a hundred times better just to play in time, with both hands together.

Pauline Viardot was a famous singer, Chopin's favorite, and also a pianist and sometimes student of his. As for this playing one hand after the other thing - I listened to Lang Lang playing Chopin 27/2 recently (a different performance than the one I was looking for), and he does this sometimes. Very annoying. Also, for those who think this type of rubato is specific to only one composer (Chopin), it appears as though Saint-Saëns at least related to it quite well from the above quote. See note 95 for a quote from Mozart also supporting it, and Chopin recommended playing Weber's music in this way in the next quote (after the footnotes).

Note 93, Eigeldinger wrote:
This independence of the two hands, aiming at a complex complementarity, is one of Chopin's characteristic traits. It cannot be fortuitous that he chose to be represented in the Fétis-Moscheles Méthode des méthodes [1840] by three Etudes of which two are based on polymetric principles: the first (F minor) with threes against fours and the third (A-flat) with threes against twos. The [Fantasie-]Impromptu Op. 66 offers a juxtaposition of these two systems through its constituent sections; similarly the Etude Op. 25/2 is based entirely on 'rhythmic exchanges'. Similar ideas occur at bars 249-72 and 849-75 of the Scherzo op. 54, as also in the Waltz op. 42, which Lenz called 'the most typical embodiment of Chopin's rubato style'.

I hadn't previously read this footnote. ^^ It's nice to see an echo of my own thoughts here.

Note 94, Eigeldinger wrote:
This practice, criticized by Saint-Saëns, is clearly recognizable in the recordings of 'renowned' Chopin players of the time, notably Leschetizky, Pugno, Pachmann, Friedman and, to a lesser extent, Paderewski and Maurycy [Moritz] Rosenthal.

Hey, that's our great-great grandteacher there! (Many of us, if I recall.)

Mathias wrote:
Everyone knows that rubato is an indication often encountered in old music;[95] its essence is fluctuation of movement, one of the two principal means of expression in music, namely the modification of tone and of tempo, as in the art or oration, whereby the speaker, moved by this or that emotion, raises or lowers his voice, and accelerates or draws out his diction. Thus rubato is a nuance of movement, involving anticipation and delay, anxiety and indolence, agitation and calm; but what moderation is needed in its use, and how all too often it is abused! [...] There was another aspect: Chopin, as Mme Camille Dubois explains so well, often required simultaneously that the left hand, playing the accompaniment,[96] should maintain strict time, while the melodic line should enjoy freedom of expression with fluctuations of speed. This is quite feasible: you can be early, you can be late, the two hands are not in phase; then you make a compensation which reestablishes the ensemble. In Weber's music, for example, Chopin recommended this way of playing. He often told me to use it, it's as though I still hear him: in the Sonata in A flat [op. 39], in the A flat passage of the agitato in the Concertstück [Op. 79, first movement bars 57ff]...
Note 95, Eigeldinger wrote:
Tempo rubato: stolen time. Although this expression first appears in 1723 in the treatise by Tosi (Bolognese theoreticial of bel canto), the musical reality which it reflects can be traced back at least to the beginnings of accompanied monody in Italian humanist circles. The following postulates emerge from Tosi's seminal writings for the intelligent use of the singer in particularly expressive passages [mostly in slow tempi] in various pieces [recitatives, arias, ariosi], rubato is a system of compensation whereby the value of a note may be prolonged or shortened to the detriment or gain of the succeeding note. This metric 'larceny' is best applied to improvised ornaments [taking the sense of the words into account as much as the music] over the imperturbable movement of the bass (underlined by Tosi). It results from counterpoint between the solo line and the bass line and is characterized, vertically speaking, by moments of metric displacement between the two parts; it is left to the singer's discretion to use it with moderation, according to the rules of good taste. Here we have the pure tradition of Italian Baroque bel canto, linked with the art of improvising suitable ornaments, and deriving from theory of affetti.

Bel canto, dominant in Europe at the end of the seventeenth and above all the eighteenth century, was transposed together with the art of rubato into the domain of instrumental music in its chamber, concertante and solo genres. Thus it came to be codified fairly accurately in the important instrumental treatises of the period: C.P.E. Bach for the keyboard, Leopold Mozart for the violin, and Quantz for the transverse flute. Wolfgang Mozart, who had been well schooled, proudly related to his father (Augsburg, 24 October 1777): 'They all are amazed that I play accurately in time. They can't grasp that in tempo rubato in an Adagio the left hand goes on unperturbed; with them the left hand follows suit'. If this independence of the hands is applied to some places in the B minor Adagio (K540), the adagio sections of the Fantasies in D minor (K397) and C minor (K 475), the various reprises in the A minor Rondo (K 511) or even to some slow movements in the sonatas and concertos, one can feel how closely Mozart anticipated Chopin!

This tradition was maintained in the instrumental field well into the Classical era, and codified once again by Türk in 1789. Tempo rubato, still very much alive in Romantic bel canto (and, exceptionally, in Paganini's Concertos - Chopin heard him in 1829 when the latter gave ten concerts in Warsaw) was, by the beginning of the nineteenth century, gradually supplanted in instrumental music by larger-scale tempo fluctuations. The Frenchman Louis Adam, educated in the old tradition, observed: 'Some people have tried to start a trend of playing out of time, playing all genres of music like a fantasy, prelude or capriccio. It is thought to enhance the expression of a piece, while serving in effect to distort it beyond recognition. Naturally, expressivity requires certain notes of the melody to be slowed or quickened; however, these fluctuations must not be used continually throughout the piece, but only in places where the expression of a languorous melody or the passion of an agitated one demands a slower or a more animated pace. In this case it is the melody that should be altered, while the bass should strictly maintain the beat.' The notion of rubato is then confused with that of tempo ad libitum in pieces written in the free style. According to Schindler, Beethoven finally adopted the term rubato in this new and incorrect sense designating fluctuations of tempo. In 1828 Hummel denounced this latest practice: 'Lately several artists have been trying to replace natural feeling with manufactured feeling; as for instance [...] by slowing down the beat (tempo rubato) at every possible opportunity to the point of satiation.' Hummel, who was a pupil of Mozart, continues to recommend the use of traditional rubato in Adagios, but no longer designates it by this name.

Thus Chopin practiced and taught rubato in its traditional and original meaning, at a time when that practice was on the decline, if not already abolished, in other piano music. His attachment to the Baroque aesthetic may be explained by two factors: first, his training from Żynwy and Elsner, both products of the pre-Classical era and raised within Italianized circles (Prague and Vienna respectively); second, Chopin's own taste for bel canto, evident from in his adolescence on - we have seen how assiduously he frequented the Warsaw National Theater, where Italianism dominated as much through Rossini as through the operas of Kamieński and Kurpiński. One might add that the singing class at the Warsaw Conservatory was then directed by the Piedmontese teacher Carlo Soliva. Faithful to the aesthetic of his education, Chopin was to transmit it through his own teaching (whence the continual appearance of indications along these lines in the annotated scores of Mme Dubois).

For more information on Chopin's connections with Baroque and Classical rubato, see (a bunch of references).
Note 96, Eigeldinger wrote:
This assertion of course applies equally to the inverse case, when the melody is in the left hand and the accompaniment in the right. Amongst many examples can be mentioned the Etude op. 25/7, Prelude op. 28/6, Mazurka op. 7/3 (bars 56-73), Polonaise op. 26/1 (bars 66-82), Waltz op. 34/2 (principal motif and bars 169-88), etc.

Lenz wrote:
What characterized Chopin's playing was his rubato, in which the totality of the rhythm was constantly respected. 'The left hand,' I often heard him say, 'is the choir master [Kapellmeister]: it mustn't relent or bend. It's a clock. Do with the right hand what you want and can.'[97] He would say, 'A piece lasts for, say, five minutes, only in that it occupies this time for its overall performance; internal details [of pace within the piece] are another matter. And there you have rubato.'[98]
Note 97, Eigeldinger wrote:
Chopin was fond of this metaphor and used it often. It appears with small variants or commentaries in the following texts:

—Lenz
—Peruzzi/Niecks
—Kleczyński
—Dubois/Kleczyński
—Franchomme, Potocka, Czartoryska/Planté
—Franchomme/Picquet/Anonymous
—Mikuli/Koczalski
—Alkan/Bertha
—Karasowski

Mme Peruzzi recalls Chopin 'calling his left hand his maître de chapelle and allowing his right to wander about ad libitum.' This corresponds precisely to the impression received by Moscheles (who had a more fundamentally metric conception) on first hearing Chopin: 'His ad libitum playing, which with other interpreters of his music tends to degenerate into a mere lack of rhythm [Taktlosigkeit], in his hands is the most graceful and original feature of the discourse [...] one feels drawn as by a singer who, unpreoccupied with the accompaniment, completely follows his or her feelings'.
Note 98, Eigeldinger wrote:
This text and the preceding one (Mathias) are of prime importance. Originating from Chopin's students, they are the only ones that let us assume that his rubato took two different forms, by no means mutually exclusive. Kleczyński was of this opinion (see above), followed recently by Higgins. I share this view, with the added nuance that a third component of Chopinian rubato is derived from the mobile rhythm of the Mazur. The first type of rubato, descended from the Italian Baroque tradition, has been discussed in note 95; it occurs principally in works with broad cantilenas. The second, more common type consists of fleeting changes of pace relative to the basic tempo; these agogic modifications may affect a whole section, period or phrase, slowing down or accelerating the flow depending on the direction of the music. This rubato is to be applied not arbitrarily but as a function of the musical texture and the basic laws of declamation. These agogic fluctuations are called rubato by extension only, since they affect the musical structure from top to bottom, not merely the melodic line. It is not unusual for these nuances of tempo to be specified in Chopin's music. Thus the section sof the Waltz op 64/2 are differentiated by the indications tempo giusto - più mosso - più lento - più mosso - tempo I - più mosso. Within a section the tempo is also to be progressively accelerated, then slowed down, by the indications agitato - sempre più mosso - calando - smorz. - riten. (Ballade op. 23, bars 40-67) - similarly within a musical period by the complementary copuled indications stretto - riten. (Etude op. 10.3 bars 7-8, 15-16) or poco riten. - accel. (Polonaise op. 26/2 bars 1-6 and similar). The coda of the Mazurka op. 24/4 is a remarkable example of progressive rallentando specified by riten. - calando - mancando - sempre rallent. - smorzando (bar 129 to end). (On the subject of his musical editing, we may note the growing scarcity of agogic and other expressive markings from op. 25 onwards, as discussed in note 99 below.)

The above considerations merely distinguish the two basic types of rubato employed by Chopin; they cannot by any means convey all the subtle flexibility of movement in his playing, of which we know only that it was conditioned by an acute awareness of the length of the piece and by an internal logic commanding the tempo nuances in relation to the basic pulse.

Koczalski's explanation of rubato - although he himself mastered it to perfection - is unconvincing, which is why it is not quoted here.

Mikuli via Michałowski wrote:
How did Chopin understand rubato? Was it synonymous with complete freedom and arbitrariness of rhythm, or was it just the expression of a living undulation of tempo which avoided exact coincidence with the strict metric framework [...] Mikuli, on the basis of his personal reminiscences, answered as follows:

Chopin was far from being a partisan to metric rigor and frequently used rubato in his playing, accelerating or slowing down this or that theme. But Chopin's rubato possessed an unshakeable emotional logic. It always justified itself by a strengthening or weakening of the melodic line, by harmonic details, by the figurative structure. It was fluid, natural; it never degenerated into exaggeration or affectation.

Kleczyński wrote:
[...] rubato is never a defect in the time; the idea of rhythm, and consequently of the relative value of the notes, must never be lost, apparent changes and momentary incongruities notwithstanding. I shall now give the result of my own reflections on the rubato of Chopin:

1. Precise rules for it cannot be given, because a good execution of the rubato requires a certain musical intuition, that is to say, a certain particular talent.

2. Every rubato has for its foundation the following idea: each musical thought contains moments in which the voice should be raised or lowered, moments in which the tendency is to retardation or acceleration. The rubato is only the exaggeration or bringing into prominence [of] these different parts of the thought: the shadings of the voice make themselves more marked, the differences in the value of notes more apparent. Hence there arises in the mind an image of the musical thought more full of vitality and of poetry, but always in accordance with law and order [...] We in all cases borrow the time from notes of smaller importance for the purpose of giving it to the principal notes.

Liszt wrote:
In his playing the great artist [Chopin] rendered most exquisitely that kind of agitated trepidation, timid or breathless [...] He always made the melody undulate like a skiff borne on the breast of a powerful wave; or sometimes he made it hover like an airy apparition suddenly sprung up in this tangible and palpable world. In his writings, he at first indicated this way of playing - which gave such an individual stamp to his virtuosity - by the term 'tempo rubato': stolen, broken time - a rhythm simultaneously supple, abrupt and languid, vacillating like the flame under the breath that agitates it, like the corn in the field waving under the soft pressures of the warm air, like the tops of trees bent hither and thither by a strong breeze.

But as the term taught nothing to whoever already knew, and said nothing to those who did not know, understand, and feel, Chopin later ceased to add this explanation to his music,[99] persuaded that if one had the sense of the music, it would be impossible not also to divine this rule of irregularity. Also, all his compositions must be played with that kind of speech-like, accented lilt, that softness [morbidezza], the secret of which it was difficult to grasp if one had not often heard him play in person. He seemed to wish to teach this style of playing to his numerous pupils, especially his compatriots to whom, more than to any others, he wanted to communicate the breath of his inspiration.[100]
Liszt via Niecks wrote:
'Look at these trees!' [Liszt] said, 'the wind plays in the leaves, stirs up life among them, the tree remains the same, that is Chopinesque rubato.'
Note 99, Eigeldinger wrote:
Chopin ceases in effect to mark the word 'rubato' from op. 24 onwards. (This goes with a parallel progressive decrease in indications of mood or character and metronome markings, very frequent and diversified in his early works, but thereafter tending towards an increasing sobriety visible at all levels of Chopin's musical editing.) Liszt's explanation is convincing: doubtless Chopin realized that the word was insufficient to convey his intentions and could be misleading to his contemporaries - who did indeed criticize his attempts to notate 'to a certain extent' some aspects of 'his rubato' (see Le Pianiste, 1834-1835, pp. 78-9, on the subject of his op. 15).

But what meaning (or meanings) does this word have in the thirteen compositions in which it occurs? Does it refer to the Italian vocal tradition, as Kamieński maintains? - or, as Kreutz believes, to both the types described in note 98 above, according to the context? Or rather, as Jadwiga and Marian Sobiescy believe, does it emphasize the mobile agogic rhythm derived from Polish folk melodies? To attempt an answer to this thorny question we have to examine the musical contexts and genres in which this notation is used.

With the exception of the G# minor Polonaise [without op. no., c. 1823], where the term is used improperly in the final cadences of bars 12 and 27 to indicate an approaching senza rigore, the term 'rubato' occurs in two broad types of context:

1a - At the beginning of a piece (opp. 15/3; 24/1; 67/3 - in the last case according to the Fontana edition, the manuscript being lost).
1b - At the beginning of a new motif which is to direct the piece towards the final cadence (op. 9/2 bar 26).
2a - At the repetition of a phrase or half-phrase (op. 6/1 bar 9; op 6/2 bar 65; op. 7/1 bar 49; op. 7/3 bars 17 and 93; op. 21, finale, bar 173; op. 24/2 bar 29).
2b - In the second half - last four bars - of a phrase (op. 8, first movement, bars 22-4 and 159-61; op. 16 bar 132; op 21, finale, bar 157).

As for the genre of compositions featuring this notation, a good three-quarters of these works are genres connected with Polish folk music. Concerning tempo, all the above-mentioned pieces are in a quick tempo with the exception of the Nocturnes op. 9/2 and 15/3 and Mazurkas op. 24/1 and 67/3. These last three pieces are marked rubato at the first bar; thus placed, the indication applies to the entire piece or at least to its first section. It therefore concerns agogic fluctuations, the second type of rubato described in note 98. As for op. 9/2, a perfect example of bel canto adapted to the piano, it arises out of the Italian tradition: even if the rubato here is applicable to various other points in the same piece, it belongs essentially to one particular phrase of a more pathétique character - to use Tosi's own words. This definition also applies logically to the above-mentioned passages of the Trio op. 8, the Rondo op. 16 and the Concerto op. 21, even though all of these are in a quick tempo: underneath the piano melody, the violin and 'cello parts, or the orchestral parts, bear no mention of rubato but keep the beat. At the same time, the passages marked rubato in op. 21 derive directly from the Mazur and so relate also to categories 2a and 2b, of pieces inspired by the mobile rhythm of Polish folk music. In each case Chopin took the trouble to notate a 'rhythmic rubato' in the melodic line; thus the term 'rubato' serves there merely to underline the precise flexibility required for these subtle nuances. This type of 'national' rubato, the third component of Chopinian rubato, is by no means incompatible with that derived from the Italian Baroque: the best Polish folk musicians, in monodic chants, employ the compensatory system (lengthening or shortening one note value to the detriment or gain of the next), while stamping a strict triple meter with the foot. This brings one final point: of the twelve compositions examined, nine are in triple time (op. 8 is in 4/4, op. 9/2 in 12/8 and op. 16 in 2/4); moreover, the nocturne op. 15/3 features many folkloric characteristics (see p. 153, note 187). This supports an argument in favor of this 'national' rubato having been instinctively applied by Chopin, harmoniously combined in his music with the other two types, each in its context.

If, then, Chopin's rubato may be seen to take diverse meanings, when he marks it explicitly it seems to be the 'national' element that takes precedence. As for the Italian tradition, it evidently applies to works with a broad cantilena, as much in slow tempi as in more restless fiery passages. It is easy to conclude from this that Chopin, after op. 24, renounced the use of a term which he would have had to employ constantly without the slightest assurance of his intentions being correctly understood.
Note 100, Eigeldinger wrote:
Altogether Liszt's poetic evocation alludes to the Italian vocal tradition adapted to the piano by Chopin. This is confirmed in an excerpt from Lachmund's diary (p. 62, on the subject of the sixth of Liszt's Consolations): 'On this occasion [Liszt gave us] an important insight into the Lisztian rubato, consisting of subtle variations of tempo and expression within a free declamation, entirely different from Chopin's give-and-take [Eilen und Zögern]. Liszt's rubato is more a sudden, light suspension of the rhythm on this or that significant note, so that the phrasing will above all be clearly and convincingly brought out. While playing, Liszt seemed barely preoccupied with keeping in time, and yet neither the aesthetic symmetry nor the rhythm was affected.'

Towards the end of his description Liszt singles out the Polish students to whom Chopin devoted the greatest care; this might also suggest that Liszt was equally aware of the mobile rhythm of Polish folk music as a component of Chopin's rubato. In fact Chopin readily affirmed that the purely national aspects of his playing and his music tended to escape foreigners: 'When one of his French pupils played his works to the approval of the listeners, Chopin would often remark that the performance had indeed been good but that the Polish element and the Polish inspiration were lacking' (Karasowski). This is corroborated by Marie Roubaud: 'He often said that French did not understand his Mazurkas, and that one had to be Polish to feel the subtleties of the national rhythm, and to render the proper local color' (Ganche). This is vividly illustrated, too, by Chopin's dispute with Meyerbeer, and by Hallé's and Moscheles's astonishment at the rhythm Chopin imparted to the Mazurkas.

Some references are omitted or truncated.

One conclusion is that we must be familiar with Polish music to play Chopin. Could it be it that to understand him better we need to listen to Szymanowski, Gorecki and Penderecki than to Schumann and Mendelssohn? To a musical world where two traditions prevailed, the German and the French, the Polish one must have been difficult to grasp. I now wonder, is my dislike of Chopin related not to his music, but by the way he is misplayed, as if he were no Pole, but a German? How would Rachmaninoff sound if we were to pay him as if he were Richard Strauss? How does Handel sound when played as if he were Bach?

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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Sat Aug 20, 2011 6:30 pm 
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jlr43 wrote:
Quote:
I tend to think that it's a little too easy to dismiss these accounts as being inaccurate, or exaggerated, because the concept and execution of the technique is not easy to grasp, but the idea that this legendary and even definitive aspect of his playing was imagined or exaggerated stretches credulity IMO. Also, the words apparently came from his own mouth (according to many students), so the idea that his students interpreted his playing badly doesn't make any sense, either. (And add that to Mozart's description of the same exact thing, not to mention countless others through the 17th and 18th centuries, aside from the 19th).


You may very well be right. However, arguing this point from the standpoint of what Chopin's students thought or interpreted, or even what the Master himself thought, runs the risk of commiting a logical fallacy, the argumentum ad verecundiam. I think what we (or at least I) want to know is (1) the observation of this in others' playing and (2) the explanation, based on that observation, of how or why this is the case (e.g., how it is working or why it's acceptable) I've explained why I think it's impossible, now IMO you (i.e., argue for yourself) should explain why it's possible in connection with your examples, which I look forward to.

Can a fact not exist even if we cannot explain it? If there is no logical explaination to it something cannot exist?

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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Sat Aug 20, 2011 6:32 pm 
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RSPIll wrote:
Tempo Rubato as described by C.P.E. Bach, Mozart, and Chopin.

To test its possibility and viability, we can start with a simple example that would fit into the idea of robbing and then giving back time in one part while keeping the other part in strict time.

Let's take a regular half-note pulse that is unvarying and on top of that place 8 - 16th notes. While these could of course be played evenly as 16th notes, would it not be possible to say begin with a slight accelerando on the first few notes to allow for a slight ritardando on the last two or three and still end in sync on the next half note without it necessarily sounding "out of sync"? Would this not be an example of the "Two Layered Rubato Thingy?"

One could argue that the composer could write a 16th note quintuplet followed by a 16th note triplet, but if followed to the letter that would create a break in the flow, the quints moving faster than the triplets with a definite change in rate, not a smooth flow.

Just a thought.

Scott

I had said as much already. To it it seems perfectly logical and possible.

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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Sat Aug 20, 2011 6:35 pm 
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jlr43 wrote:
Quote:
The Andante from Bach's Italian Concerto is an effective example of rubato embedded in the score.


How so? If rubato refers to the individual performer's robbing of tempo in certain places, and catching it up in other places, to suit his or her musical intentions, then it seems to me that by definition it isn't part of the score but something that the individual performer adds. I think the Bach Andante from the Italian Concerto could be played exactly in time just like any other work in the entire musical literature could be (subject to human error for not having metronomes in our heads :P ), but I agree that that would be terribly boring.

But you forget Bach was a teacher and many of his works were written to demonstrate a point. If he wanted to demonstrate how to achieve rubato (an Italian singing style, as he would have called it) he would need to write an example out, would he not?

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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Sat Aug 20, 2011 6:43 pm 
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musical-md wrote:
alf wrote:
jlr43 wrote:
Quote:
Out of sync in music is more the rule than the exception. I mean just the writing, the composition, not the performance of it.
It'd bore us to death otherwise. Really, rethink it a bit.


Not sure what you mean here, or at least it seems contradictory to me. I'm only talking about performance, not composition or writing, and I only mean that when, e.g., an A-flat in the right hand is written against, e.g., an undulating nocturne bass and that A-flat goes with a D-flat in the bass it should be compressed along with that D-flat (unless of course there's hand breaking, there are different views on that), regardless of what rubato is being applied. That is, the hands apply rubato together, not asynchronously.


Problem is that any performance starts from the score. Don't you have out of syncs at any suspension, anticipated bass, off-beat syncopation and all kind of rhythmic gimmicks a composer can devise to elude a listener's expectations? The Andante from Bach's Italian Concerto is an effective example of rubato embedded in the score. The LH keeps going and the RH does all kind of out of sync stuff.

Alfonzo,
With all due respect, you're changing the subject, which is fine to do if you like but the former arguments do not segue. The discussion (or the controversy anyway) on rubato cares nothing about a rhythm indicated in a score. It not about composition, its about performing in a manner not indicated in (contrary to) the score. If the score shows a treble-dominated texture with melody accompanied by simple patterns (Alberti bass for example), the question is, "Is it valid/tasteful/authentic to play the melody not simultaneously with the note(s) indicated in the score that are indicated simultaneously?" (E.g., in Mozart's Sonata facile in C major) We aren't exploring the history of rhythmic development in art music. That would be a fascinating discussion but is seperate and appart. Any reference to a score (anybody's) to argue about the "2-layered (contextually-dissociated) rubato" misses the point/issue entirely.

Do I get you, Eddy? If a composer writes it out it cannot be rubato, but rubato is only when the performer does it? strange thatif the results being the same, a technique changes name accordingly if it the composer or the perfomer who applies it.

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 Post subject: Re: That 2-layered rubato thingy
PostPosted: Sat Aug 20, 2011 6:48 pm 
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musical-md wrote:
alf wrote:
jlr43 wrote:
Quote:
In fact it doesn't relate per se to the discussion but to the following your statement "Yet whenever he applies it to the right hand, the left follows suit. I just don't see how it logically can be otherwise; things that are out of sync (melody to harmony) sound terrible.", which is clearly false, since in piano music you have tons of examples of asynchronicity where, to make it simple, the hands don't go together. What a composer does all the time writing it down, why the performer couldn't do on principle on a smaller scale?


But again, we're talking about two different things here. When I said "he applies it" I was referring to the performer, not the composer. The score just is what it is, a document that's there and unalterable. The only thing that's at issue here is what the performer does while interpreting the score.


You don't get my point. Composer and performer live in the same acoustic world (and in Chopin they were one person). How can be that the out-of-sync by the composer is good and the out-of-sync by the performer "sounds terrible"? The acoustic principles on which they're based a pretty the same. And what's more, "logically" so?

You see, I simply don't agree on your explanation of why that kind of rubato could not be possible and was badly interpreted by students and commentators. That kind of rubato is possible and, as some recordings from the past prove, it was practiced by some pianists, like Saint-Saens.

Very simple: If a composer writes syncopation and you play straight, the performance is wrong. If he writes syncopation and you correctly play syncopation, the performance is correct. If he writes straight and you play syncopation, the performance is wrong. If he writes straight and you play straight, you play correctly. If you want to recite Shakespear, Dante or the Bible, if you say what's written, then you do good, if you say other than written in a recitaion then you fail. It's so simple that every child learns this in elementary music lessons. If you want to improvise on a Chopin Nocturne, by all means do so, but don't call it Chopin. In fact, if we have the freedom to change the melodic rhythm as we desire, then why not the other elements? Why not change the melody itself? Or the harmony? Perhaps the score is just a mild suggestion. :) Again, show me the money! I want to HEAR a famous pianist doing this, otherwise it is nothing more that arcane myth. Perhaps you could do some for us with the Mozart sonata I alluded to earlier. Right now I also have the Beethoven Appasionata under hand; consider this simple example: Imagine that a pianist doesn't make the distinction of the 16th note value of the second note of the piece, instead playing it as the 3rd note of a triplet, and does so manytimes throughout the piece while saying, "I'm doing rubato!" He/she will not pass his board exam and everyone will know he doesn't know rhythm!

Only a tasteless ignoramus would play that Mozart with rubato and only a boor would play triplets in Beethoven and call it rubato, but that is not because it might not by a strech of the imagination be rubato, but because rubato is uncalled for in Beethoven.

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Last edited by richard66 on Sat Aug 20, 2011 7:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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