Showing posts with label Musical Notation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Musical Notation. Show all posts

Sunday, June 3, 2018

CRESCENDO Now, Pay Later

In the hierarchy of musical priorities, dynamics have often appeared to me to be relegated to fairly low niche and left there to languish, their immense potential for beauty and expressiveness being overlooked and ignored. Even in recordings of professional orchestras, it is not at all unusual to hear a crescendo or diminuendo begin and end without any unified idea of where it is heading. Concerts or recordings where the music making is otherwise of a very high caliber all to often approach the dynamics with far less care and intelligence than other musical matters.

Every musician knows what dynamics are and will tell you that when they see an mf on the music, by golly they play mezzo forte! And when they see a crescendo to an fff, watch out, buddy!

Crescendos (or crescendi, for our purist friends) seem to bring out a primal Darwinian, survival of the fittest impulse in many of us. If you can do it, e.g. low brass, most percussion, etc., then do it. If you can’t, e.g. low register flutes, middle register clarinets, etc., then get out of the way. It is quite understandable. After all, you flutes and clarinets get all the great melodies and technical calisthenics while we timpanists and trombonists are stuck back here counting rests. So, when we are finally allowed to speak, our voices will be heard! Then to our delight and to the delight of our audiences, excitement happens! Everybody wins, right? Absolutely. The only casualty is the music.

I don’t wish to claim any tremendous pre-eminence in this area, but I have listened to what others have to say on the topic and have explored a number of approaches on my own. I also don’t wish to suggest that any of my findings are original with me. Au contraire, anyone with keen musical sensitivities would be very apt to make similar explorations and discoveries on their own. So with your kind indulgence, perhaps we can investigate a few of these principals together. If you find something here that might squeeze your own creative juices, then my fondest hopes will have been realized. If not, then I recommend you demand a full refund from the author.

Why don’t we continue flogging the subject of the crescendo for just a moment or two? Most of them seem to have a destination or a specific point in the music when the energy and momentum gathered by it is released in a heightened moment of drama or intensity. Obviously, for the full dramatic potential of the passage to be realized, there has to be general agreement exactly where and when that moment will arrive. If a few people in the ensemble peak on the crescendo prematurely the effect is spoiled, and the audience slinks out of the hall feeling violated and unclean.

A question that is too rarely asked is, “What should the shape of the crescendo be?” The written symbol has two converging straight lines, yet in most instances, to shape the crescendo like a trumpet bell would be musically and dramatically much more effective, i.e. very little crescendo at first, then gradually increasing the volume, saving the final 50% of the crescendo for the last 10% of the passage. You may wish to experiment with this idea in a few select passages to see if you agree with the results. My guess is that you will be heralded as a genius and promoted at least as high the custodial staff.

Another oft-neglected question is, “Who should crescendo when?”  May I offer a suggestion here, also?

A typical passage containing a crescendo might consist of the melodic material in the upper voices, the harmonic or accompanimental figures in the middle voices, a bass line, and some rhythmic figures in the percussion. If you were to encourage the melodic instruments to begin the crescendo first and the accompaniment to construct their crescendo entirely in support of the melody, but never upstaging it, you will find that the melody will maintain its primacy. Now, if through coercion or perhaps even bribery, you can appeal to the percussionists’ better angels and make them aware of the ever-present danger of premature gesticulation, you may have created the ideal crescendo. If the percussionists save a solid 80% of their crescendo until the last couple of beats before its apex, they will provide the perfect dot for the perfect “i” and prove once again, even to the most skeptical, that, except in certain one-on-one disciplinary actions, intelligence and sensitivity trump brute force every time.

It is my fervent hope to continue to lobby for the liberation of the crescendo. If there is any true justice I have recruited you to become a like-minded zealot to this noblest of causes.

Any comments about your own glorious victories you might wish to contribute would, no doubt, serve as an enduring inspiration to us all.

    Carl Hammond Ph.D. composes all sorts of music, plays piano, and as you've seen writes a mean, entertaining article. He's the CEO of  where you can download purchased sheet music for concert bands, choirs, chamber ensembles, jazz groups. See it, hear it, download it, rehearse it.   FREE Newsletter and FREE Special Report written by Carl Hammond a 35-year international music veteran.

    Well written interesting music for your groups to play right now via download. Score pages, MP3s to help you decide suitability.

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Thursday, May 31, 2018

A printed musical notation - SHEET MUSIC

English: Sheet music of composer W. J. D. Leav...
Sheet music of composer W. J. D. Leavitt. Three piano pieces, including 'Villagers Dance.' Published 1884, dedicated to Miss Grace E. Leavitt.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A sheet music is a form of musical note either in a printed form or is hand written. There are many musical notes that are kept in a booklet. Generally it is a normal sheet with musical notes written over it for concerts. When musicians play or take part in concert then they require these sheet music so that they can read the notes and play the music because a concert generally has more than 30 musical notes. These sheet music helps in recalling them the music they have to play.

With development of technology these days these sheet music notes are also available on the internet which can be downloaded and kept on the computer screen. Many big directors and movie makers use the computer based sheet music to add musical notes in movies. Music composers make music notes and write it on paper. These become sheet music and are complied in the form of a pamphlet or a booklet. A sheet music is different from a recoding therefore the word sheet is used to imply music notes on paper either printed or written in hand. If we see any musical concert we will see a booklet with sheet music placed on the podium for quick reference.

Portrait of a Musician, detail: hand and sheet...
Portrait of a Musician, detail: hand and sheet music booklet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A sheet music has many terminologies which we should be familiar with. Score is one word which is very commonly used in sheet music. Sheet music can be used as a form of guidance, for concert to perform. In fact many music schools teach their students how to write musical notes on the music sheets. These days unlike the older version of sheet music the modern format of sheet music is different. Generally when a single person is playing or performing then there will be one sheet music but if there are multiple players performing then each person has a separate sheet music and each person concentrate on their own part. Generally there are many musical stores that print famous music notes on sheet music and then publish it.

Sheet music is really very helpful as they help in remembering music notes and by reading sheet music we can slowly but gradually we can read music notes too and make our own music. Once we become experts then we can create music and write our own music on music sheets. Every singer has his own sheet music and it differs from person to person how they write their music pieces. Sheet music is generally seen kept over pianos.

Pianos have a stand to place this sheet music so that we can easily read them in front of us while playing the piano.

Generally people learning music too can write their music pieces on sheet music and refer it later to practice. We just need to know how to read these music pieces so that we can write it and refer it later for practice till we perfect it. So just keep writing on sheet music and keep filling your music booklet with your music pieces.

    Mary Ashley is the author of this article on Piano Music. Find more information about Piano Playing here.
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