Haydn’s Innovation

Discuss the rules of notation, standard notation practices, efficient notation practices and graphic design.
User avatar
John Ruggero
Posts: 1503
Joined: 05 Oct 2015, 14:25
Location: Raleigh, NC USA

Haydn’s Innovation

Post by John Ruggero » 15 Feb 2016, 21:06

Measures 11 of this example from the autograph of Haydn’s Piano Sonata no. 52 (62) contains unique notation:
Haydn Sonata MS.jpg
Haydn Sonata MS.jpg (1.93 MiB) Viewed 5359 times
The chord in the next to last measure on the first line is to be rolled in a special way, starting with two notes in the LH against one in the RH and then continuing in a 2 against 3 rhythm with the last notes played simultaneously. This conteracts the empty octaves that would have been produced by rolling the notes in each chord at the same time. The use of half-notes without stems is ingenious, as if a solid chord were put slightly out of alignment. Haydn would have had a lot of fun with computer notation!

Interestingly, the Universal edition edited by Christa Landon, which is considered to be authentic, has solid chords in this measure. But the revised version of this edition, now published by Wiener Urtext, has the text as seen in the autograph, but with much greater distance between the notes. This destroys some of the ingenuity of Haydn’s notation. By placing the notes so close together, he gives the impresson of a solid chord rolled so quickly that the note values are approximately correct as written. It is strange that the editors of this revised edition suggest as a realization a straight 8-note arpeggio in single notes stating with the LH and finishing in the RH.

But there is more. What looks like a combined “fermata-slur” in the RH extends over both measures, making this is a unique example of nested fermatas! The large fermata suggests a ritenuto for the two measure, within which there are shorter holds on the individual notes and chords. But viewed also as a slur, it seems to direct tying over to connect the first note to the second, which is what the Wiener Urtext suggests in its realization. But the Wiener Urtext considers this to be a slur only, ignoring the dot and absence of a normal fermata over the first melody note.

As far as I know, this notation has never appeared in print as Haydn wrote it. I have engraved it below. The simplicity of Haydn’s notation is admirable when compared with a conventional realization shown below the engraved version.
Haydn Arpeggio and Fermatas.jpg
Haydn Arpeggio and Fermatas.jpg (137.59 KiB) Viewed 5359 times
Realization.jpg
Realization.jpg (29.69 KiB) Viewed 5359 times
Last edited by John Ruggero on 17 Feb 2016, 21:59, edited 1 time in total.
Mac mini (OS 10.8.5) with dual monitors, Kurzweil Mark 5 with M-Audio Midisport 2 x 2,
Finale 2014d with GPO 4, JW Plug-ins, SmartScore X Pro, Adobe InDesign CS4,
Inkscape .48.5 and .91, FontForge 20150526
http://www.cantilenapress.com

DatOrganistTho
Posts: 170
Joined: 19 Jan 2016, 17:30

Re: Haydn’s Innovation

Post by DatOrganistTho » 16 Feb 2016, 00:23

WARNING! Strong opinions below. ;)

My composition professor always said: "Leave it to ambiguity, and you'll never hear what you imagined." I would sometimes reply, "But what if I want to leave it up to the performer?" to which he would reply, "Then you never knew what you wanted in the first place."

Sure, your observations of the URTEXT are great for historical reasons, the difficulty of understanding exactly what it sounds like is about as ambiguous as it looks. Exactly how fast is it supposed to be played? To what extent does this arpeggio occur? What exactly is the function of the large fermata? How is this supposed to sound?

Do we have recordings of people playing in this era? No. Do we know what Haydn intended exactly? No. We know whereabouts of his intentions, but we neither have clarity of thought nor ingenuity. Haydn didn't know (or he didn't care so much) what he wanted it to sound like.

As a historical artifact, this is intriguing, but I much prefer to either not play this work, or find someone who has a really good idea of what it was supposed to sound like. As a performer, I don't want to play what I think it is supposed to sound like, but what Haydn thought it was supposed to sound like.

Of course, my theory of playing is in staunch contrast to many people's pedagogical experience, so I understand if my comments are going to rub shoulders with others.

I'm happy to look at such an artifact in the manuscripts, but having this printed neither serves the modern performer all that much nor are we capable of admitting it helps.
LilyPond Lover
Composer and Transcriber
Teacher and Performer

Peter West
Posts: 129
Joined: 05 Oct 2015, 18:26
Location: Cornwall, England
Contact:

Re: Haydn’s Innovation

Post by Peter West » 16 Feb 2016, 10:29

I think it is possible to become too pedantic or too precious about details. If anyone were to play a piece by a living composer without reference to the composer it would inevitably vary from the composer's exact intentions. Does that invalidate it or does it enrich it? Should everyone who plays a piece by a living composer seek the composer's approval, or is that impractical, unnecessary, inappropriate? ... or something else?

When these questions can be resolved, the answers can be applied to music where the composer is no longer alive but players who worked with them are, and finally to composers who are no longer alive and nor are anyone that they knew. In which case apart from reference to academic treatises and current practice in music of that period, there is little that we can refer to for answers.

This is inevitable and always has been. However, many composers of the past perhaps didn't consider or expect that their music would be played after their lifetime. When we look at that situation with hindsight we can make decisions about publishing music written now, but that will not resolve the issues arising with earlier music.

It would be a shame if any work were not played because the player was concerned that the notation of one bar were ambiguous. Whether the interpretation of that bar would have been approved by the composer or not should not destroy the experience of the whole piece.
Finale 2008/9/10/11/12/14, Sibelius 6/7.5, In Design CC 2015, Illustrator CS4

User avatar
John Ruggero
Posts: 1503
Joined: 05 Oct 2015, 14:25
Location: Raleigh, NC USA

Re: Haydn’s Innovation

Post by John Ruggero » 16 Feb 2016, 14:27

Not exactly the reaction I expected, but let's go with it, because it deals with some very fundamental issues crucial to this forum.

DatOrganistTho, with that reasoning, no one would play any music that is notated, because there isn't a single element in that isn't left up to the player's judgement except the notes to be played (and sometimes even those, as in improvised ornamentation in Baroque keyboard music or a cadenza in a Classical concerto.) And within that framework, the composer sometimes indicates places in which he grants even greater freedom to the player, as with symbolized ornaments, because that is the feeling intended: free.

This spot is unique and is more difficult to understand than usual because it has no precedent; but I think that if someone had trouble playing it convincingly from the original notation, then one would have trouble playing EVERYTHING in the piece, because that person just didn't know the style.

There is something else to consider: in this kind of music, the surface detail is influenced by what is going on below the surface. If one has a good feeling for the whole, i.e. the way the music fits together to make sense, then the details fall into place without great effort. That is why these composers did not write in a lot of performance directions; they were mostly concerned about the feeling for the whole and much less about minor matters. Supposedly, when someone played for Beethoven, he shrugged off minor errors; but the feeling for the piece had better be right or watch out! Performers today who play musically also understand the whole and have no trouble interpreting the music. In fact, it is rare to hear a truly bad performance of this particular movement, because its interpretation is so obvious to everyone.

Judging from my interactions with composers, reading, and the fact that I am a composer, I think that I can say that Beethoven's attitude is also the attitude of many composers today. It actually underlies our whole system of preserving music through notation. The notation represents a recipe for the piece, and the success of the recipe relies on the skill, judgement, and mood of the cook. Obviously the quality of that meal is going to vary.

Now that we have the means to preserve music exactly, it could be tempting for a composer to nail down every last detail by means of an electronic performance. The result would be like eating at a chain restaurant where one is assured of getting the same meal, cooked exactly the same way, every time, everywhere.
Mac mini (OS 10.8.5) with dual monitors, Kurzweil Mark 5 with M-Audio Midisport 2 x 2,
Finale 2014d with GPO 4, JW Plug-ins, SmartScore X Pro, Adobe InDesign CS4,
Inkscape .48.5 and .91, FontForge 20150526
http://www.cantilenapress.com

User avatar
John Ruggero
Posts: 1503
Joined: 05 Oct 2015, 14:25
Location: Raleigh, NC USA

Re: Haydn’s Innovation

Post by John Ruggero » 16 Feb 2016, 14:38

Peter, thank you for your clear presentation of some of the other sides of this issue, with which I am in complete agreement.
Mac mini (OS 10.8.5) with dual monitors, Kurzweil Mark 5 with M-Audio Midisport 2 x 2,
Finale 2014d with GPO 4, JW Plug-ins, SmartScore X Pro, Adobe InDesign CS4,
Inkscape .48.5 and .91, FontForge 20150526
http://www.cantilenapress.com

DatOrganistTho
Posts: 170
Joined: 19 Jan 2016, 17:30

Re: Haydn’s Innovation

Post by DatOrganistTho » 17 Feb 2016, 03:11

Peter West wrote:I think it is possible to become too pedantic or too precious about details. If anyone were to play a piece by a living composer without reference to the composer it would inevitably vary from the composer's exact intentions. Does that invalidate it or does it enrich it? Should everyone who plays a piece by a living composer seek the composer's approval, or is that impractical, unnecessary, inappropriate? ... or something else?

When these questions can be resolved, the answers can be applied to music where the composer is no longer alive but players who worked with them are, and finally to composers who are no longer alive and nor are anyone that they knew. In which case apart from reference to academic treatises and current practice in music of that period, there is little that we can refer to for answers.

This is inevitable and always has been. However, many composers of the past perhaps didn't consider or expect that their music would be played after their lifetime. When we look at that situation with hindsight we can make decisions about publishing music written now, but that will not resolve the issues arising with earlier music.

It would be a shame if any work were not played because the player was concerned that the notation of one bar were ambiguous. Whether the interpretation of that bar would have been approved by the composer or not should not destroy the experience of the whole piece.
Yet, should I not fear not understanding the composer's intentions? Should I not be concerned with what the composer wanted? Would it be unauthentic to change what the author wrote?
LilyPond Lover
Composer and Transcriber
Teacher and Performer

DatOrganistTho
Posts: 170
Joined: 19 Jan 2016, 17:30

Re: Haydn’s Innovation

Post by DatOrganistTho » 17 Feb 2016, 03:57

John Ruggero wrote:Not exactly the reaction I expected, but let's go with it, because it deals with some very fundamental issues crucial to this forum.

DatOrganistTho, with that reasoning, no one would play any music that is notated, because there isn't a single element in that isn't left up to the player's judgement except the notes to be played (and sometimes even those, as in improvised ornamentation in Baroque keyboard music or a cadenza in a Classical concerto.) And within that framework, the composer sometimes indicates places in which he grants even greater freedom to the player, as with symbolized ornaments, because that is the feeling intended: free.

This spot is unique and is more difficult to understand than usual because it has no precedent; but I think that if someone had trouble playing it convincingly from the original notation, then one would have trouble playing EVERYTHING in the piece, because that person just didn't know the style.

There is something else to consider: in this kind of music, the surface detail is influenced by what is going on below the surface. If one has a good feeling for the whole, i.e. the way the music fits together to make sense, then the details fall into place without great effort. That is why these composers did not write in a lot of performance directions; they were mostly concerned about the feeling for the whole and much less about minor matters. Supposedly, when someone played for Beethoven, he shrugged off minor errors; but the feeling for the piece had better be right or watch out! Performers today who play musically also understand the whole and have no trouble interpreting the music. In fact, it is rare to hear a truly bad performance of this particular movement, because its interpretation is so obvious to everyone.

Judging from my interactions with composers, reading, and the fact that I am a composer, I think that I can say that Beethoven's attitude is also the attitude of many composers today. It actually underlies our whole system of preserving music through notation. The notation represents a recipe for the piece, and the success of the recipe relies on the skill, judgement, and mood of the cook. Obviously the quality of that meal is going to vary.

Now that we have the means to preserve music exactly, it could be tempting for a composer to nail down every last detail by means of an electronic performance. The result would be like eating at a chain restaurant where one is assured of getting the same meal, cooked exactly the same way, every time, everywhere.
Like I said, my comments are strong and quite in the fringe. I'd be happy to respond.

Please understand that I mean no disrespect to what you've written about, and I appreciate the criticisms you bring up.
with that reasoning, no one would play any music that is notated, because there isn't a single element in that isn't left up to the player's judgement except the notes to be played (and sometimes even those, as in improvised ornamentation in Baroque keyboard music or a cadenza in a Classical concerto.)
You are exactly right. There is SOME necessary judgement calls that must be made, but if most of it is left to the performer, then we are doomed to even wonder what the Composer wanted the audience to hear.
because that is the feeling intended: free.
Composers wishing to be free with the performance of a work is no justification for it's infatuation in history. It simply states that people wished to communicate in said manner.
it has no precedent;
That is why these composers did not write in a lot of performance directions; they were mostly concerned about the feeling for the whole and much less about minor matters.
I think this is historically misguided. There were predominant forms and cultural cues as to how music should be played, and in accordance with that they should interpret their music. It is not based on the music per se but rather the culture that surrounded it. This is why in early editions you don't find performance instructions. But in our modern editions we have to EXPOUND the content and cultural cues to give access to the performer to guide them in the way that they should perform it.

Their feeling for the whole fluctuates with each passing era of culture. This is particularly endemic of those composers and performers like Rachmaninoff and Scriabin, or even others, that interpreted the old repertoire (Chopin, Haydn, Liszt, Mozart, Bach) very differently.
Performers today who play musically also understand the whole and have no trouble interpreting the music. In fact, it is rare to hear a truly bad performance of this particular movement, because its interpretation is so obvious to everyone.
I believe this is begging the question. Who says these performers are playing musically? What defines their musicality? How does their musicality inform their interpretation? Or is it the other way around? How do you know that it's interpretation is obvious? Could you learn that from an edition that "gave you that interpretation"?

I feel the same sort of argument you have made is similarly made with Bach's music. There are usually no tempo indications that can be infallibly interpreted, so everyone is left to their own devices and the audience decides what worked best -- yet people enthrone their reviews with jolts of comments like, "It was much too fast," or, "I think his interpretation of that tempo wasn't up to my liking." Really? Where is the basis for that kind of comment?
Judging from my interactions with composers, reading, and the fact that I am a composer, I think that I can say that Beethoven's attitude is also the attitude of many composers today.
Again, this does not add up. You must first prove (beyond a bandwagon) that this way of thinking is legitimate to begin with.
The result would be like eating at a chain restaurant where one is assured of getting the same meal, cooked exactly the same way, every time, everywhere.
This is an emotional appeal, a very strong one. So, to help you understand where I am coming from, here's the following edit:

It would not be difficult to walk into a restaurant that serves Gordon Ramsey's food and ask that the food be prepared the way Gordon Ramsey would prepare it. If you walked into a restaurant expecting Gordon Ramsey's dishes, and yet you got something completely different, or perhaps very different but similar in some ways, you would ask the management what is amiss. The management could reply in many ways. But the underlying motif would be, "Yes, you were expecting Gordon, but we gave you something else instead." Otherwise, you could ask for Gordon's cooking, and get "his" cooking (possibly prepared by another chef), and taste what is undeniably his cooking, but has flavors of whoever is head chef at the restaurant.

Of course in our context, the cook is the performer, the audience is the connoisseur, and the sheet music the recipe. I prefer that the instructions be given with exacting precision, as much as is allowable and contiguous to the culture, and allow the performer to give their own justification for their performance (their rendering of the recipe), being able to defend whatever decisions were made. Of course, it will become clear, that a recipe which says "cook steak" might have many different preferences with the customer, but a dish that is served and described with "a steak medium rare," and the customer knows it, the cook knows it, and yet the customer doesn't like such a flavor of cooked meat for their steak, it will be the fault of the customer and no one else for choosing such a thing.

Does this help at all?
LilyPond Lover
Composer and Transcriber
Teacher and Performer

OCTO
Posts: 1271
Joined: 05 Oct 2015, 06:52
Location: Sweden

Re: Haydn’s Innovation

Post by OCTO » 17 Feb 2016, 11:55

As a someone who composes with pen & paper, I would say that this is an "innovation" but not dramatic.
1. Fermatas = I see it as the composer's enjoyment in writing them wide (not intentionally to mean "wide"). Just the pen feels good and scratch well on the paper.
2. Measure 12 = I see it as a normal chord, yet Haydn wants to have it "arpeggiated".

If we could go back in to the history and say "Haydn, you will die or notate it properly" - maybe he would not write it as it is.
Freelance Composer. Self-Publisher.
Finale 25.5 • Sibelius 2019 • MuseScore 2+3 • Logic Pro X • Ableton Live 9+10 • Digital Performer 9 /// OS X El Capitan, (side system: Debian 9, Windows 10)

User avatar
John Ruggero
Posts: 1503
Joined: 05 Oct 2015, 14:25
Location: Raleigh, NC USA

Re: Haydn’s Innovation

Post by John Ruggero » 17 Feb 2016, 15:43

OCTO. said:
1. Fermatas = I see it as the composer's enjoyment in writing them wide (not intentionally to mean "wide"). Just the pen feels good and scratch well on the paper.
There happen to be many fermatas in this sonata; in fact there are nine in my autograph example above. All of them are centered correctly over the notes, with small slurs above. None of them looks like this one. I notice also that Haydn's slurs are generally on the small side and so are his ties, which sometimes look like the French ties of Boulez! I don't think he enjoyed wasting ink; in fact, I think he was on the stingy side.

There is, of course, a small chance that this is a slip of the pen, but only a small one, because I see no other such "slips" in this 12- page MS, which is very precise; and also because it is associated with another unique notation, the arpeggiated chord. If it is a slip of the pen, I would call it a Freudian Slip of the Pen, because he instinctively felt that the two chords should be slurred together and the pen ran away from him. But the chance is very small; the guy's handwriting is so controlled and professional. I see one slight error (maybe?) corrected in 12 dense pages. He was like Mozart: mistakes were not part of the equation.

OCTO. said:
2. Measure 12 = I see it as a normal chord, yet Haydn wants to have it "arpeggiated".
I didn't understand how the chord can be both "normal" and abnormal. This is not the normal way to indicate an arpeggiation. It doesn't look like any other chord in the entire sonata, all of which are notated in the modern style, with the notes directly over each other. (There are 4 in my autograph example above.) I know of no other notation like this in the piano literature. Half notes without stems? Where has anyone seen this before the 20th century? To me, the whole looks quite abnormal and unique.
Last edited by John Ruggero on 17 Feb 2016, 20:02, edited 2 times in total.
Mac mini (OS 10.8.5) with dual monitors, Kurzweil Mark 5 with M-Audio Midisport 2 x 2,
Finale 2014d with GPO 4, JW Plug-ins, SmartScore X Pro, Adobe InDesign CS4,
Inkscape .48.5 and .91, FontForge 20150526
http://www.cantilenapress.com

User avatar
John Ruggero
Posts: 1503
Joined: 05 Oct 2015, 14:25
Location: Raleigh, NC USA

Re: Haydn’s Innovation

Post by John Ruggero » 17 Feb 2016, 15:45

A very interesting NY Times article concerning composer's MS and musical performance:

http://www.nytimes.com/2000/05/14/arts/ ... wanted=all
Mac mini (OS 10.8.5) with dual monitors, Kurzweil Mark 5 with M-Audio Midisport 2 x 2,
Finale 2014d with GPO 4, JW Plug-ins, SmartScore X Pro, Adobe InDesign CS4,
Inkscape .48.5 and .91, FontForge 20150526
http://www.cantilenapress.com

Post Reply