Composers vs. Engravers: Logic pt 2

Discuss the rules of notation, standard notation practices, efficient notation practices and graphic design.
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John Ruggero
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Re: Composers vs. Engravers: Logic pt 2

Post by John Ruggero » 09 Apr 2018, 17:12

Thanks so much worldwideweary! I really appreciate that. Some of this material will appear in my edition of the etudes.

I usually use Maestro or MaestroTimes musical characters of the proper size and position in publications, but as you say, it is pretty convenient to use the ready-made ones here, even if they stand out too much from the text.
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User avatar
John Ruggero
Posts: 1302
Joined: 05 Oct 2015, 14:25
Location: Raleigh, NC USA

Re: Composers vs. Engravers: Logic pt 2

Post by John Ruggero » 10 Apr 2018, 20:38

Chopin seems to be doing something unusual with several of the slurs in the Etude op. 25 no. 4.

Examples 1 and 2 are from the composer's autograph. What can be the logic behind:
Chopin Etude op 25 no 4 slurs 1.jpg
Chopin Etude op 25 no 4 slurs 1.jpg (32.55 KiB) Viewed 545 times
Chopin Etude op 25 no 4 slurs 2.jpg
Chopin Etude op 25 no 4 slurs 2.jpg (34.95 KiB) Viewed 545 times
The slur at * in example 1 overshoots the last note of the three-note slurred group by a mile. Chopin does tend to begin his slurs early and end them late as can also be seen in the examples, but not like this. That something is afoot is confirmed at ** in example 2, in which a slur is used for a single note!

Examples 3 and 4 are by Chopin's copyist, Julius Fontana, with extensive changes by Chopin, which can be seen at **** and *****.
Chopin Etude op 25 no 4 slurs 3.jpg
Chopin Etude op 25 no 4 slurs 3.jpg (22.44 KiB) Viewed 545 times
Chopin Etude op 25 no 4 slurs 4.jpg
Chopin Etude op 25 no 4 slurs 4.jpg (30.72 KiB) Viewed 545 times
At *** in example 3 the copyist extends the slur to the end of the measure in imitation of Chopin's notation. At **** we see a correction by Chopin extending a slur to the end of the measure that the copyist made too short. These overly long slurs are clearly intentional.

Chopin is concerned that the player hold the sustained melody notes completely through to the end of each measure and past the staccato accompaniment in both hands. His solution by means of this unusual slurring is an illustration of the creativity that some composers have used in expressing themselves with our notational system.

Another example of Chopin's logic concerns the staccato dots which might appear chaotic in example 1. Chopin was probably the most prone to careless error of any of the greatest composers; but only about mundane matters, not concepts.

In example 1 Chopin has decided to abbreviate the constantly staccato accompaniment notes in the right hand by writing staccato below and legato above the upper staff rather than constant wedges used in the left hand. However, concerned that players unaccustomed to this unique new piano texture might apply the slurs above the melody to some of the staccato accompaniment notes causes him to write in a few remaining staccato dots in measure 1, 2 and 4. When the melody is resting as at the beginning of m. 2, he is concerned that the player might incorporate the accompaniment into the melody and clarifies this with a staccato dot. The staccato dot over the second eighth note of the melody in of m. 3 is quite interesting. He is reinforcing the break between the two short slurred groups as a precaution, since his use of very short abruptly interrupted melodic groups is unusual and might be misunderstood by the players of that time. After a few such clarifications, these precautionary staccato dots disappear completely in the rest of the piece.
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