On Beaming

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cGilmore
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Re: On Beaming

Post by cGilmore » 31 Jan 2016, 19:18

Long time reader, first time poster. Greetings!

I know that the conversation has moved on from this but wanted to point out that I had never seen a computer generated score with opaque beaming. The first time I'd come across it before was with International Music Company engravings.

The attached example is from the 60s. I wondered if any other publisher has tried this practice. Now I know. :)
image.jpeg
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Knut
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Re: On Beaming

Post by Knut » 31 Jan 2016, 23:23

John Ruggero wrote:Knut, I don't think that the Peters editor was inconsistent. His reasoning is clear: to clarify the beats without breaking things up too much in areas where he discerned that Liszt didn't want any interior emphasis. He was trying to find a compromise between "normal" and Liszt's original.
Sorry, I certainly didn't mean to misrepresent your view.
At least it's clear from from my post why I personally find the Peters edition to be inconsistent, and it's problems lie precisely in these attempts at compromise between different musical considerations. To me it is neither fish, nor fowl.

To comment on your, as usual, splendid analysis point by point:
John Ruggero wrote:1. The music starts on the lower staff, which emphasizes the darkness and sadness of the music. The music is growing out of darkness and seeking the light.
Since (to my understanding) the entire line is supposed to be played by the same hand, and the actual register, in my view, gives more than enough emphasis on this philosophical aspect, I think I would prefer the line on a single system. I don't really have a strong opinion on this, and adopted the Peter's distribution for my examples more out of convenience than anything else.
John Ruggero wrote:2. The 32nd's grow out of the opening note in a improvisatory way with very free rhythm and without any sense of organization as shown by the lack of secondary beam breaks. It sounds confused as if in emotional turmoil.
The original beaming makes a lot of sense to me with this in mind. The absence of a slur has to be a purely pianistic device that I'm not familiar with. I'm wondering though, if it would be entirely inappropriate to beam the first two groups together across the barline?
John Ruggero wrote:3. This continues through into the next measure, but the eight 32nd note motive begins to be discerned at little, as shown by the slur.
Probably yet another pianistic device, unfamiliar to me. It would be great if you could clarify the presence and absence of slurs a bit further.
John Ruggero wrote:4. This takes us to the second beat of measure 2 as an arrival point, which also represents a new beginning.

5. The new start begins with some effort as if already weary, because the motive must repeat to get started again. This defines the first four notes as independent and breaks the original larger motive into two discernible parts.
Makes sense.
John Ruggero wrote:6. These parts are emphasized in m. 3 by the secondary beam breaks and the rit., but Liszt also wants to show the enlargement of the motive from eight to twelve 32nd notes, so he doesn't break the 1/8 beam throughout the measure as a way to hold it all together. The enlargement costs a lot of emotional energy as shown by the dim. and rit. There is also a sense of resignation in this measure preparing for what happens next.
Very interesting. I'm not sure if this warrants breaking the first two groups, but I definitely see your point.
John Ruggero wrote:To me, every change to the original is bad because it negates what Liszt is showing in his notation. But the worst change is the breaking of the 1/8 beam in measure 3. This occurs in every edition except the first Liszt Complete Works, which keeps the original notation entirely intact throughout:
For a critical edition of this specific work, I most certainly agree. I might have misunderstood your intensions for this discussion as being more general in nature. Sorry about that!

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Re: On Beaming

Post by Knut » 31 Jan 2016, 23:33

cGilmore wrote:Long time reader, first time poster. Greetings!

I know that the conversation has moved on from this but wanted to point out that I had never seen a computer generated score with opaque beaming. The first time I'd come across it before was with International Music Company engravings.

The attached example is from the 60s. I wondered if any other publisher has tried this practice. Now I know. :)
image.jpeg
Hi, cGilmore!
Welcome to the discussion.

Thanks for this! It's very interesting to see an example of opaque beams preceding computer based engraving. I'm wondering how this was done. It must have been even more demanding with manual means.

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John Ruggero
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Re: On Beaming

Post by John Ruggero » 31 Jan 2016, 23:38

Welcome, cGilmore! How interesting. I immediately checked a couple of International piano scores on hand, Moszkowski Etudes op. 74 and the Chabrier Pieces Pittoresques and I see the opaque beaming.

What is really puzzling is that I have always considered International to be a none-to-fussy reprint publisher like Kalmus, but one that hired well-known performers to do a little light editing on top.

Here is an International edition that is supposedly a reprint of a 1900 Peters edition, yet displays the same opaque beaming:

http://imslp.org/wiki/Concerto_for_2_Ha ... Sebastian)

So I am left wondering whether this style of beaming is actually an old plate engraving technique, or did International do its own engraving with this beaming style, or did International retouch prints by hand and then photograph them?
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Re: On Beaming

Post by Knut » 31 Jan 2016, 23:54

John Ruggero wrote:Here is an International edition that is supposedly a reprint of a 1900 Peters edition, yet displays the same opaque beaming
I'm not sure this is actually an example of opaque beaming. The beams in this edition are pretty wide, the gap between them very narrow, and the staff lines very slight. Combined with the low quality print, it looks to me like the beams obscure the staff lines, but that they would be present if you looked at the plates.
John Ruggero wrote:So I am left wondering whether this style of beaming is actually an old plate engraving technique, or did International do its own engraving with this beaming style, or did International retouch prints by hand and then photograph them?
I think the latter is more likely. I just can't see how this effect would be possible with plate engraving directly, since the staff lines are cut pretty deep into the plate first thing.

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John Ruggero
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Re: On Beaming

Post by John Ruggero » 01 Feb 2016, 00:22

Knut wrote
it is neither fish, nor fowl.
We are in complete agreement.
To comment on your, as usual, splendid analysis point by point:
Thank you very much, Knut.
Since (to my understanding) the entire line is supposed to be played by the same hand, and the actual register, in my view, gives more than enough emphasis on this philosophical aspect, I think I would prefer the line on a single system.
The two staves of piano music give composers the opportunity to use the additional staff and space to depict musical concepts in visual terms. When the right hand plays "down deep" in the bottom staff that equates to a dark musical feeling. Then when it creeps up into the top staff, that is a graphic depiction of something emerging from the gloom.

It is exactly for this reason that changes of clef to keep right hand notes in the top staff, as in this example, are so destructive of the visual messages being delivered. Octave signs can also be destructive, but have to be suffered because of practicalities. However, cases like this Liszt example represent no reading issues and should be preserved. In my opinion, there is no reason for any edition to be non-authentic, because no matter what the player's level of musicianship, it generally causes more trouble than it prevents to change the composer's notation. I am not speaking, of course, of correcting the minor errors to which no one is immune.
The absence of a slur has to be a purely pianistic device that I'm not familiar with. I'm wondering though, if it would be entirely inappropriate to beam the first two groups together across the barline?
The absence of the slur in the first measure and then its sudden appearance in the second measure is unique and not at all a common pianistic device. I can only theorize that since Liszt needed the slur to mean something special by its appearance in measure 2, he was forced to withhold it in measure 1. It may also mean that the performance of the opening notes is left entirely up to the player, even including articulation.
It would be great if you could clarify the presence and absence of slurs a bit further.
When the slur appears in measure two the performance begins to be more defined as a normal expressive legato which gives more shape to the melody and therefore makes it a more readily definable as a real musical idea as opposed to a improvisatory trope often used in this style.
I might have misunderstood your intensions for this discussion as being more general in nature.
I am not exactly sure what you mean, Knut, but I often try by means of concrete examples to bring to engraver's attention some general ideas that I hope they would consider.
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Re: On Beaming

Post by John Ruggero » 01 Feb 2016, 01:53

I'm not sure this is actually an example of opaque beaming. The beams in this edition are pretty wide, the gap between them very narrow, and the staff lines very slight. Combined with the low quality print, it looks to me like the beams obscure the staff lines, but that they would be present if you looked at the plates.
Knut, are you looking at the two-piano version under "arrangements"? Here are some highly enlarged excerpts from page one. It looks like opaque beaming to me. What do you think?
Bach Beams 1.jpg
Bach Beams 1.jpg (40.04 KiB) Viewed 4528 times
Bach Beams 2.jpg
Bach Beams 2.jpg (36.12 KiB) Viewed 4528 times
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Peter West
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Re: On Beaming

Post by Peter West » 01 Feb 2016, 08:22

John Ruggero wrote:Knut, I don't think that the Peters editor was inconsistent. His reasoning is clear: to clarify the beats without breaking things up too much in areas where he discerned that Liszt didn't want any interior emphasis. He was trying to find a compromise between "normal" and Liszt's original.

As usual, I think that the original edition (composer's MS?) is best. Let me describe what I see in it:

1. The music starts on the lower staff, which emphasizes the darkness and sadness of the music. The music is growing out of darkness and seeking the light.

2. The 32nd's grow out of the opening note in a improvisatory way with very free rhythm and without any sense of organization as shown by the lack of secondary beam breaks. It sounds confused as if in emotional turmoil.

3. This continues through into the next measure, but the eight 32nd note motive begins to be discerned at little, as shown by the slur.

4. This takes us to the second beat of measure 2 as an arrival point, which also represents a new beginning.

5. The new start begins with some effort as if already weary, because the motive must repeat to get started again. This defines the first four notes as independent and breaks the original larger motive into two discernible parts.

6. These parts are emphasized in m. 3 by the secondary beam breaks and the rit., but Liszt also wants to show the enlargement of the motive from eight to twelve 32nd notes, so he doesn't break the 1/8 beam throughout the measure as a way to hold it all together. The enlargement costs a lot of emotional energy as shown by the dim. and rit. There is also a sense of resignation in this measure preparing for what happens next.

7. On the next line of music, the opening four note motive starts a new main melody as the real arrival point. The opening three measures are now heard as this melody trying to be born out of a very emotional experience.

To me, every change to the original is bad because it negates what Liszt is showing in his notation. But the worst change is the breaking of the 1/8 beam in measure 3. This occurs in every edition except the first Liszt Complete Works, which keeps the original notation entirely intact throughout:

imslp.org/wiki/File:TN-Liszt_Musikalische_Werke_2_Band_12_129.jpg

Rhapsody no. 13 was Lizst's favorite of the 19. It has always been my favorite, as well, because it is the deepest and most heartfelt of them. This is shown in the notation of these first three measures.

This is interesting to hear from a pianist's perspective. My opinion is that the Peters Edition, as quoted is pretty awful. While a bass clef E is a bass clef E whichever staff you print it on, the visual effect of making it an inner voice in the left hand (presumably) while it doesn't change the notes, gives the player a visual perspective from which to develop an interpretation. This I believe should not have been changed.

However, as this thread is about beams, My feeling on the beams in the Peters Edition is that it's a bit half hearted. 8 demis broken into 2 groups of 4 should be joined by a single beam, or, as in the original edition, not broken at all. I'm not sure what the editor was trying to achieve. To make it more readable? Really? Anyone with the skill and experience to play this piece doesn't need it. But if you want to do it, do it properly. breaking the beams should be done boldly and correctly, or not at all. Liszt is not inconsistent in his notation. The tempo needs to begin fast enough that the groups are not rhythmically distinguishable, then during the rall, they become distinguishable, and at this point the beams are broken. This gives the player huge amounts of information about the speed, manner of execution, amount of rall, the effect of the rall on the emphasis of note groupings. All this has been lost, and what is left is a page that looks like a page of orchestral part.
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Knut
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Re: On Beaming

Post by Knut » 01 Feb 2016, 10:00

John Ruggero wrote:The two staves of piano music give composers the opportunity to use the additional staff and space to depict musical concepts in visual terms. When the right hand plays "down deep" in the bottom staff that equates to a dark musical feeling. Then when it creeps up into the top staff, that is a graphic depiction of something emerging from the gloom.

It is exactly for this reason that changes of clef to keep right hand notes in the top staff, as in this example, are so destructive of the visual messages being delivered. Octave signs can also be destructive, but have to be suffered because of practicalities. However, cases like this Liszt example represent no reading issues and should be preserved. In my opinion, there is no reason for any edition to be non-authentic, because no matter what the player's level of musicianship, it generally causes more trouble than it prevents to change the composer's notation. I am not speaking, of course, of correcting the minor errors to which no one is immune.
Excellent point. From what I've seen there are instances of a more technical nature (crossing hands etc.) where a clef change seems most appropriate. Otherwise, however, I definitely see this as words to live by.
John Ruggero wrote:The absence of the slur in the first measure and then its sudden appearance in the second measure is unique and not at all a common pianistic device. I can only theorize that since Liszt needed the slur to mean something special by its appearance in measure 2, he was forced to withhold it in measure 1. It may also mean that the performance of the opening notes is left entirely up to the player, even including articulation.

When the slur appears in measure two the performance begins to be more defined as a normal expressive legato which gives more shape to the melody and therefore makes it a more readily definable as a real musical idea as opposed to a improvisatory trope often used in this style.
Thanks for clarifying this.
John Ruggero wrote:I am not exactly sure what you mean, Knut, but I often try by means of concrete examples to bring to engraver's attention some general ideas that I hope they would consider.
I just meant that I didn't really think of this as one of the 'Composer's vs. Engravers' threads, and that some of my responses worked less a comments on practices specific to Liszt or piano music, and more to clarify the purpose and conventions of secondary beam breaking. The level of expertise on this forum, however, clearly renders such a basic discussion rather unnecessary.

Knut
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Re: On Beaming

Post by Knut » 01 Feb 2016, 10:05

John Ruggero wrote:
I'm not sure this is actually an example of opaque beaming. The beams in this edition are pretty wide, the gap between them very narrow, and the staff lines very slight. Combined with the low quality print, it looks to me like the beams obscure the staff lines, but that they would be present if you looked at the plates.
Knut, are you looking at the two-piano version under "arrangements"? Here are some highly enlarged excerpts from page one. It looks like opaque beaming to me. What do you think?
Bach Beams 1.jpg
Bach Beams 2.jpg
Sorry, I was indeed looking at the wrong version.

It puzzles me that these examples, as well as the one posted by cGilmore, look like ordinary plate engravings. I am curious about the technique used to obtain the opaque effect if my assessment is correct.

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