Composers vs Editors: A Helpful Addition?

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David Ward
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Re: Composers vs Editors: A Helpful Addition?

Post by David Ward » 09 Feb 2016, 07:54

Knut wrote:… … … In other words, her definition neglects any tuplets irregular to any other value than two or three, which is not uncommon in modern music (e.g., some of the tuplets in the last Xenakis piece quoted in this thread is not considered by Gould's definition: viewtopic.php?f=3&t=95&start=70#p1559. Even though she is right that tuplets, even in the majority of cases, may be characterized by her definition, I consider it a misconception of what constitutes this particular rhythmical phenomenon, particularly by modern standards.
Those on the forum who don't have immediate access to a copy of Elaine Gould's book may like to know that she does go on to discuss 7:5 tuplets and all the rest in exhaustive detail, despite her tentative-seeming opening on the subject. Her approach may sometimes seem a tad circuitous, but it speaks to me as reader (not that I necessarily have to agree with her every last word).
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Re: Composers vs Editors: A Helpful Addition?

Post by David Ward » 09 Feb 2016, 08:03

John Ruggero wrote:I am glad that everyone is enjoying and learning from this forum, the brainchild of OCTO. I certainly am.
Yes indeed, even if some of it is a little over my head (as a mere composer!).

Thanks indeed to OCTO.
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Re: Composers vs Editors: A Helpful Addition?

Post by OCTO » 09 Feb 2016, 09:13

Oh, welcome. That are - YOU that we make it good!
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Re: Composers vs Editors: A Helpful Addition?

Post by John Ruggero » 09 Feb 2016, 17:47

There is one remaining issue. If the notes of a tuplet are defined to be of equal length, what do we call a group like the one in the Ravel in which the notes are of unequal length?

On the previous subject:

I was again browsing through "Behind Bars". The wealth of information it contains is so impressive and useful. Gould assumes that the reader is a mature musician and defines musical terms rather rarely—mainly when a term is rather recent like "tuplet" or there are distinctions to made, as with the measured vs unmeasured tremolo or the comma vs the caesura. This is an intelligent decision, designed to reduce the bulk of the book.

But she is not at her best when defining terms. I think that this has to do with something that has bothered me from the beginning: the subject matter and presentation lead one to expect a formal writing style, but instead, we find a casual, almost conversational tone with the wordiness and slight bumps that that implies. For example:

"The comma (,) or diagonally-stroked caesura // indicates that a note is held for its full value, then extra time allotted for a short break in sound."

Had I been the editor, I would have revised this to: "The comma (,) or diagonally-stroked caesura // indicates that after a note is held for its full value, extra time is added to produce a short break in sound." Or "allotted" might stand instead of "added."

Then I would have suggested that the emphasis might be more on the the break than the held note and referred her to the Wikipedia definition:

"...a caesura denotes a brief, silent pause, during which metrical time is not counted."

She follows the definition with:

"The comma rather than the caesura is now more commonly used."

That could be revised to: "The comma is now more commonly used than the caesura." which, to me, flows better and also reduces the word count.
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Re: Composers vs Editors: A Helpful Addition?

Post by Knut » 09 Feb 2016, 17:59

John Ruggero wrote:There is one remaining issue. If the notes of a tuplet are defined to be of equal length, what do we call a group like the one in the Ravel in which the notes are of unequal length?
Excellent point! It looks like the Grove definition is the only one quoted here which takes tuplets of unequal note values into account.

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Re: Composers vs Editors: A Helpful Addition?

Post by John Ruggero » 09 Feb 2016, 22:13

Knut, I am not really sure that the Grove definition does take unequal divisions into account because the term "subdivide" seems to imply "divide into equal parts" with musicians; but maybe I'm wrong.
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Re: Composers vs Editors: A Helpful Addition?

Post by Knut » 09 Feb 2016, 23:11

According to Merriam-Webster, the word 'subdivide' simply means to divide (something) into several or many smaller parts. It does not seem to imply equivalence. In any case, I think Grove's tuplet definition is clear, concise and general enough to be superior to the other two.

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Re: Composers vs Editors: A Helpful Addition?

Post by MJCube » 10 Feb 2016, 13:08

Similarly, to divide anything doesn’t necessarily imply equal divisions. A triplet is “3 in the time of 2” and to me it seems that definition can include the concept of 8+7+6 proportion as well as 1+1+1 … especially in solo music.

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Re: Composers vs Editors: A Helpful Addition?

Post by John Ruggero » 10 Feb 2016, 14:49

The Oxford Companion to Music (1963 & 2003 editions) likewise has "three notes to be performed in the time of two", whereas the Harvard Dictionary of Music (2003) says "equal divisions". An old Grove dictionary (1954) has "three triplet notes are equal to two ordinary notes of the same species". However it precedes this with the following:

"In modern notation, each note is equal to two of the next lower denomination and the division into three is thus not provided for….On this account notes worth one third of the next longer kind have to be written as halves and then are grouped into threes by means of curved lines with the figure three placed over the middle tone…"

Grove thus links triplet subdivision to our system of rhythmic subdivisions in general: wholes divided into halves into quarters into eighths etc. all of which are equal subdivisions. This is why I think that some musicians may think of "subdivisions" as being of equal length, even though this is not the dictionary meaning.

Here is an example of a tuplet of many notes by Chopin. In such passages, the RH notes are not to intended to be grouped and exactly coordinated against the LH, but performed as equal divisions, allowing of course, for the slight freedom of musical playing.
Chopin.jpg
Chopin.jpg (58.32 KiB) Viewed 4294 times
The Ravel seems to be something different and might just represent an octuplet, a septuplet, and a sextuplet, but not notated as such because he didn't want the changes to be obvious. Perhaps it is something that today might be written with feathered beaming. And if a triplet can have feathered beaming, then the question has been answered: a tuplet can consist of notes of unequal subdivision.
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Re: Composers vs Editors: A Helpful Addition?

Post by OCTO » 10 Feb 2016, 22:17

I really enjoyed reading your posts and have learned many interesting things, thanks for this!

Keeping in mind John's original post and comments, I have one question as a composer: how would you orchestrate that measure?
It is definitely entirely impossible that this tuplet is neither 21 nor 7/7/7.
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