Beethoven's Logic 5

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John Ruggero
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Beethoven's Logic 5

Post by John Ruggero »

The following anomaly occurs in the last movement of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata op. 10 no. 3. Why did he write a B sharp at the first arrow and a C natural at the second? Note also the C natural’s at the stars. Might this be another example of “progressive correction”?
op 10 no 3.4 ex 1.jpeg
op 10 no 3.4 ex 1.jpeg (123.27 KiB) Viewed 1889 times
I think that the difference in spelling was probably intentional. As shown in the analysis, the third and fourth measures of the example are a free inversion of the first two. The chord tones decorated by chromatic neighboring tones in the boxed area summarize the first half of the second measure in the example and this dictated the choice of note spelling at the first arrow.
op 10 no 3.4 spelling.jpeg
op 10 no 3.4 spelling.jpeg (73.51 KiB) Viewed 1889 times
This is not the case at the arrow on the second line or at the stars, so Beethoven uses there the then more customary flat third degree rather than sharp second degree for the chromatic scale.

Now compare the passage with the fourth measure of the main theme of the movement:
op 10 no 3.4 ex 2.jpeg
op 10 no 3.4 ex 2.jpeg (67.7 KiB) Viewed 1889 times
The whole B section of this Rondo is a development or semi-variation of the first four measures of the theme! FIrst measures 1-3 in eighth notes are expanded. Then there is an expansion of measure 4 in sixteenth notes, both climbing up to the high E and then resolving down to the A.
op 10 no. 3.4 ex 3.jpeg
op 10 no. 3.4 ex 3.jpeg (306.15 KiB) Viewed 1889 times
What imagination, and what logic!
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Anders Hedelin
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Re: Beethoven's Logic 5

Post by Anders Hedelin »

Enharmonic spelling isn't always that facile. You are probably right, John, that in traditional chromaticism the lowered third degree in a major key is more common than the raised second - statistically. On the other hand, as an expressive appoggiatura to the major third degree it's in fact always a raised second. In fluent chromatic scales the lowered third may have a predominance.

Now, what makes me wonder about Beethoven's intention with the spelling, is that the note in question is embedded in a fast scale - hardly noticeable as an appoggiatura - and that the soaring character of the gesture is evident regardless of the spelling. So, if he really had an intention of making the two ascending scales (in ms. 2 and 4) different, wouldn't it be too little to spell one quickly passing chromatic note differently? Also, later in the first scale (m. 2), after the the B sharp, there appears a C natural - which suggests to me that the spelling is rather accidental.
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John Ruggero
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Re: Beethoven's Logic 5

Post by John Ruggero »

I was suggesting that since the appoggiatura effects in the boxed area in the third measure are unmistakable, and, as you said, require the sharped lower auxiliary tones, this influenced his choice at the beginning of the second measure to correspond, even though he normally would have written a C natural. In other words, since ms. 3-4 clearly vary ms. 1-2, a composer like Beethoven who made constant use of variation technique would make the variation clear notationally, either consciously or not.

On the other hand the three C naturals don't participate at all in this relationship and therefore would be notated in the customary way.

The notation would influence my interpretation, so that I would make a break before the B sharp in m. 2 to treat it as an appoggiatura, and play the B sharp in m. 4 in a way that would relate back to the B sharp in m. 2. I would not do that with the C naturals.
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John Ruggero
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Re: Beethoven's Logic 5

Post by John Ruggero »

The rhythmic aspect of this passage also convinces me that the B sharp was intentional.

Beethoven explored different ways that scale and arpeggio patterns may be superimposed on the meter to produce “interior” melodic lines. There are numerous examples in his piano concertos and sonatas. The last movement of the Piano Sonata op 2. no. 2 is practically a study in this technique:
op 2 no 2.4 ex.jpeg
op 2 no 2.4 ex.jpeg (50.36 KiB) Viewed 1809 times
In the passage in question, he crafitly positions the B sharp and G sharp auxiliary tone on the first and third beats, where they are most audible. But the final D# auxiliary tone falls off the beat to form an upbeat to the destination tone E. This gives rise to a whole series of off-beat auxiliary tones in an iambic pattern that echo what has happened previously.
op 10 no 3.4 ex.jpeg
op 10 no 3.4 ex.jpeg (65.01 KiB) Viewed 1809 times
I think that this play of auxiliary tones is an important part of one’s experience in hearing this passage
Last edited by John Ruggero on 11 Mar 2020, 12:52, edited 1 time in total.
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Anders Hedelin
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Re: Beethoven's Logic 5

Post by Anders Hedelin »

Thank you for your idea about the interpretation, John. That convinced me that the B sharp probably is intentional. It is subtle, yes, but with Beethoven nothing, and a lot of things, surprise.

What about the second scale, the one with C natural? Do you think it's intended to be played more in one sweep, as if it had one long slur only? And would the reason why it hasn't, be that it would be too long for (early-period) Beethoven?

After your explanation I hear the rhythmic pattern (the rhythmic impulses) in the first 8 measures of your ex. 1 like this:
Op. 10 Rhythmic pattern.JPG
Op. 10 Rhythmic pattern.JPG (15.54 KiB) Viewed 1777 times
It's well known that Beethoven is especially fond of rhythmic shortenings, but here we have a lengthening of the impulses. Beautiful, if it's true.
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John Ruggero
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Re: Beethoven's Logic 5

Post by John Ruggero »

You are very welcome, Anders.
Anders Hedelin wrote:
11 Mar 2020, 09:07
What about the second scale, the one with C natural? Do you think it's intended to be played more in one sweep, as if it had one long slur only? And would the reason why it hasn't, be that it would be too long for (early-period) Beethoven?
Beethoven is slurring with the harmony, but also with the melody. The B at the end of the first measure of the example is actually the main melody note in the measure and deserves to be set off from the B sharp that follows. Placing the main melody note as the last 16th note in a measure is a very common technique of that time, but often after it appears as the first note of a group, for example, an octave scale in 16th notes where the first and last are the main melody notes. (See the scales in 32nds in the example above from op. 2 no. 2.) And since the main notes are somewhat hidden in the decoration, Beethoven obliges by presenting the structure very clearly in the accompanying chords.
op 10 no 3.4 ex 1.jpeg
op 10 no 3.4 ex 1.jpeg (69.16 KiB) Viewed 1762 times
The economy of material in this movement is remarkable. The following analysis shows how Sections A and B are simply varied repetitions of the opening three notes of the movement which demand a completion in a delayed fourth note A, which, when it appears in m. 3 continues upward to notes that are high above the main register of the piece culminating in the high E. While these higher notes are consistently the most interesting thing in the piece, none are structural, so that there must be many descents down to the main register such as occur at the fermata at the end of the B section.
op 10 no 3.4 ex 2.jpeg
op 10 no 3.4 ex 2.jpeg (45.5 KiB) Viewed 1762 times
This piece illustrates the point that I made previously: that understanding what is most basic sheds light on what can be less basic but more interesting. I have found that it is the difference between basic and interesting is difficult for many musicians to accept. Yet, the principle is illustrated by any piece of architecture. Our eyes are attracted to the exterior, yet the exterior would't be possible without the foundation and the structural supports, which are invisible.
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Re: Beethoven's Logic 5

Post by Anders Hedelin »

The analogy between composition and architecture is striking, but there is a difference, though. When building a cathedral, you obviously have to start 'from the inside', with an architectural plan. Composing a work of music may very well start 'from the outside', from motivic germs like in the following sketch by Beethoven (Violin sonata Op. 24):
Beethoven sketch.JPG
Beethoven sketch.JPG (13.33 KiB) Viewed 1753 times
That Beethoven had a very strong sense of architecture in music is undeniable. For me, though, the interesting thing is how he arrived at that. My personal impression is that, initially, he had his mind on the details on the surface, like the turn motive in the sketch above, and that only gradually everything fell into place, also in the big perspective - possibly as the result of a rather intuitive process, possibly as a result of rolling up the sleeves.
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John Ruggero
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Re: Beethoven's Logic 5

Post by John Ruggero »

As a composer, I agree completely, Anders. The creative act, whether musical or architectural is completely personal and unfathomable, even to the person actually experiencing it. Teaching has shown me that even inexperienced composers create intricate and logical structures without conscious thought, because it is the way our mind perceives as well as creates music.

Schenker said over and over that he wasn't explaining how great composers compose and that one couldn't compose by reversing the analytical process. He was just trying to show what we actually hear when music makes sense, no more and no less. Part of the problem is that our notational system disguises its sense, so one can't parse music as easily as spoken language. His method just clears away some of the obstacles.

When asked "Do you think before you compose?" Brahms famously responded: "Do you think before you speak?" Music was as natural as spoken language for Brahms; he wasn't "thinking" but "speaking" music when he composed. I think he is also supposed to have said that he went into an indescribable ecstatic state when he was composing.
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Re: Beethoven's Logic 5

Post by Anders Hedelin »

Just as an aside, but apropos: Paul Dukas has said one of the best things ever on composing, which became a sort of motto with me when teaching composition:
Pour composer il faut savoir beaucoup et faire de la musique avec ce q’on ne sait pas.
In my homemade translation: To compose you have to know a lot, and then make music from what you don't know.
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OCTO
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Re: Beethoven's Logic 5

Post by OCTO »

Anders Hedelin wrote:
23 Mar 2020, 18:17
Just as an aside, but apropos: Paul Dukas has said one of the best things ever on composing, which became a sort of motto with me when teaching composition:
Pour composer il faut savoir beaucoup et faire de la musique avec ce q’on ne sait pas.
In my homemade translation: To compose you have to know a lot, and then make music from what you don't know.
Indeed so true. It is a mystery of creation. If art is made from "known" things, anyone would be an artist (composer, painter..).

It is similar with the AI. Our computers "can" make art, just by following the algorithm provided. But the art is often made by making "mistakes", or by unexpected "mutations" prior unknown and impossible to "reveal" by deduction, nor algorithm.
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