Extreme dynamics

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Peter West
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Re: Extreme dynamics

Post by Peter West » 07 Mar 2016, 15:17

MJCube wrote: To me it looks ridiculous on the page
I wouldn't disagree with that. I was arguing as devil's advocate, having had to deal with such things over a number of years.
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John Ruggero
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Re: Extreme dynamics

Post by John Ruggero » 07 Mar 2016, 23:29

Previously, dynamic markings were suggestive, situational and relied on the performer's judgement and musicality. The dynamics in the music under discussion seem to have taken on a life of their own so that they require much more precision in their notation. Whether human beings can calculate dynamic levels with the required precision is open to question, however, especially given various acoustical environments.

In any case, a new system of dynamic markings might be in order. Instead of FFFFFFF, a composer could write 7F. Instead of sFFFFFFF, 7sF etc. The values from 16P to 16F or whatever would be assigned exact decibel values and every musician could equip themselves with a combination tuner-metronome-decibel meter…
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DatOrganistTho
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Re: Extreme dynamics

Post by DatOrganistTho » 08 Mar 2016, 00:28

I think it's perfectly acceptable to write as many dynamics and invent whatever devices you so choose if you think it is reasonable. Isn't that what music notation is all about? Re-inventing convention and normalizing the hopelessly asinine. Right? ;)
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John Ruggero
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Re: Extreme dynamics

Post by John Ruggero » 08 Mar 2016, 03:05

To Quote DatOrganistTho:
Re-inventing convention and normalizing the hopelessly asinine.
I love it! I think that it should be the Notatio motto.
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OCTO
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Re: Extreme dynamics

Post by OCTO » 08 Mar 2016, 05:35

I have used mff and mpp. Interestingly, I have not been using mppp yet.
I remember in Sibelius there was 'poco mf' - something between mp and mf but slightly towards the mf.
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Re: Extreme dynamics

Post by Peter West » 08 Mar 2016, 09:32

As I recall this one of the issues Stockhausen was struggling with. Pitch and duration can be specified in ways that are exact and definable, but dynamics cannot. On a computer simulation, of course, there are 127 velocity settings, but human interpretation of these is not so precise, and different instruments have different energy curves over their pitch spectrum which further complicates the situation.
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David Ward
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Re: Extreme dynamics

Post by David Ward » 08 Mar 2016, 11:40

A few years ago, I asked a violinist who often acts as guest leader (concert master) or guest principal second violin for several top professional orchestras, whether or not he'd immediately understand the direction msf. His response was that HE would understand it at sight, but that some desks in his section might hold up proceedings in rehearsal to ask what it meant.

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John Ruggero
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Re: Extreme dynamics

Post by John Ruggero » 08 Mar 2016, 14:04

David Ward wrote:
some desks in his section might hold up proceedings in rehearsal
Arnstein's "general rule" for orchestral notation: no notation should be used that might even remotely hold up a rehearsal. I think that trying to adhere to the limitations of this rule will cause a composer to find better ways to express him- or herself.
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Re: Extreme dynamics

Post by MJCube » 08 Mar 2016, 15:24

OCTO wrote:I have used mff and mpp. Interestingly, I have not been using mppp yet.
I remember in Sibelius there was 'poco mf' - something between mp and mf but slightly towards the mf.
Since dynamics are relative, context can help a lot with an unfamiliar marking. If mff comes between f and ff then it’s obvious at sight. Wagner consistently used più f for that — but of course that makes sense only in a crescendo context. I have sometimes cheekily penciled in mm for “mezzissimo” when something between mp and mf seems needed. msf seems fairly sensible to me.

I once recopied an opera movement that included extremely finely graded dynamic markings in the strings, including both “poco sf in ppp” and “pochissimo sf in pp”, in a long passage of running 32nd notes. These markings had to be written on 2 lines in order to look like they applied to one note. I would have thought a simple accent mark would do it, and for really fine gradations, perhaps a couple of words such as “accents increasing”. The way the composer wrote the markings gave no sense of context.

(BTW, the lovely individual :me and :forte inserts are not actually useful for more than a single letter at a time. I haven’t found a way to write ff without a big space between. (Of course we wouldn’t want to clutter up the screen with 100 more smilies for every possible dynamic marking.) If not for the restraint of BBCode I would use Times bold italic for dynamic markings. When I want to put them on a web page I use CSS to specify actual music fonts such as Maestro or Opus Text and a bold italic serif text font as a fallback. Perhaps this issue belongs in the News category, but I wanted to mention it here in [wait for it:] context.)

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John Ruggero
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Re: Extreme dynamics

Post by John Ruggero » 08 Mar 2016, 15:41

più F or più forte is the standard way to express a dynamic between F and FF.

niente — PPPP — PPP — PP — più P — P — meno P — mP — mF — meno F — F — più F — FF — FFF — FFFF — tutta forza = 16 standard dynamic levels

supplemented by sotto voce, mezza voce and rinforzando

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