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Interesting notation in Aida Act III

Posted: 15 Apr 2017, 21:23
by David Ward
In the first scan, what should one suppose is meant by the way the tremolos for 2nd violins are notated (compare with the more normally notated equivalent tremolo for Flute 3)?

The second scan (from a few pages earlier) shows a rare example of quadruple dots and also an unusual way of notating artificial harmonics.

Re: Interesting notation in Aida Act III

Posted: 15 Apr 2017, 21:56
by erelievonen
David Ward wrote:
15 Apr 2017, 21:23
In the first scan, what should one suppose is meant by the way the tremolos for 2nd violins are notated (compare with the more normally notated equivalent tremolo for Flute 3)?
I think it means nothing special. The modern rules for notating tremolos were only established in the 20th century; in 19th century works, tremolos are often notated "wrongly" in many different ways. In this excerpt, only the first tremolo of the 3rd flute is correctly notated by modern standards. But I have to admit the 2nd violins' notation is one I've never seen before.

Re: Interesting notation in Aida Act III

Posted: 15 Apr 2017, 22:28
by John Ruggero
Being such a practical musician, Verdi was concerned about the players immediately understanding the length of each tremolo since they alternate between a dotted quarter and quarter in total duration. So he came up with something original. The flute didn't need such clarification since it only uses tremolos of whole and half measures. The following example from the same place in the opera might make this clearer:
Verdi tremolos.jpg
Verdi tremolos.jpg (89.59 KiB) Viewed 5332 times

Re: Interesting notation in Aida Act III

Posted: 28 Apr 2017, 17:00
by MJCube
erelievonen wrote: In this excerpt, only the first tremolo of the 3rd flute is correctly notated by modern standards. But I have to admit the 2nd violins' notation is one I've never seen before.
I tried to recopy this in Sibelius and found I couldn’t get the beams the way Verdi wrote them with any setting. Then I realized what erelievonen meant: This half-measure duration requires two :4d and the connected beams make them look like :3d — Modern notation requires all 4 tremolo beams between stems, with none touching.

To me this is terribly cumbersome notation for a vanishingly tiny detail — a change in only the last of 24 notes of an extremely quiet measured tremolo — in a whole section of strings, no less. I wonder if this tiny passing tone is ever even heard. Here’s a different notational idea to maybe gain the same effect with much less clutter:

Re: Interesting notation in Aida Act III

Posted: 30 Apr 2017, 18:16
by John Ruggero
This unusual notation is possible in Finale:
Verdi tremolo.jpg
Verdi tremolo.jpg (7.95 KiB) Viewed 5226 times
MJCube's version is simpler and probably better. Maybe the following would be even clearer?
MJCube tremolo.jpg
MJCube tremolo.jpg (8.94 KiB) Viewed 5226 times

Re: Interesting notation in Aida Act III

Posted: 30 Apr 2017, 21:37
by David Ward
MJCube wrote:
28 Apr 2017, 17:00
… … I wonder if this tiny passing tone is ever even heard… …
I think its absence would be heard, or at least sensed, even allowing for the fact that most members of the audience will be far more aware of the vocal line than of the orchestral detail. (Mind you, sopranos do seem altogether more willing/able than tenors to sing quietly when Verdi asks.)

Re: Interesting notation in Aida Act III

Posted: 01 May 2017, 03:18
by John Ruggero
I agree completely, David. The passing note is needed to connect the trills to the lower auxiliary into a smooth chain. And it is not clear that the trill ends on the principal note unless it is written in, thus my suggestion for improving MJCube's version.

Re: Interesting notation in Aida Act III

Posted: 01 May 2017, 10:39
by erelievonen
The main problem with both MJCube's and John's simplified notations is that they strongly imply that the tremolo is unmeasured. While Verdi's notation strongly implies a measured tremolo.

Re: Interesting notation in Aida Act III

Posted: 01 May 2017, 16:59
by John Ruggero
You are probably right, although there is the possibility that it was simply a device to be enable him to notate the passing note. Are these tremolos actually measured in performance?

Re: Interesting notation in Aida Act III

Posted: 01 May 2017, 19:25
by David Ward
John Ruggero wrote:
01 May 2017, 16:59
… …Are these tremolos actually measured in performance?
Not usually, anyway.