Mastering Rachmaninoff

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DatOrganistTho
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Mastering Rachmaninoff

Post by DatOrganistTho » 29 Mar 2016, 01:29

I guess this is my first belly-up post on this forum. Go easy! ;)

I fully intend to re-engrave the Rach Op. 30. In order to do that, I need to get comfortable doing insane amounts of polyphony and dense musical information. This is my initial VERY-ROUGH draft. I've used "Cadence" as my font (thanks A. Lee!) and Minion as text font.

I've modified slurs in places, beaming, voice realization, etc, and have tried to copy it straight from the PD version of Rachmaninoff's preludes (Muzgiz, Ed. 1365)

I'd like to get your thoughts. Let me know if you have trouble downloading or viewing the file.

I'd also like to hear more than just your preference for things. Provide an inductive reasoning if possible. I want to learn, but not without good reason! :)

Thanks in advance for your thoughts and critiques.
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RachmaninoffOp23No10.pdf
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OCTO
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Re: Mastering Rachmaninoff

Post by OCTO » 29 Mar 2016, 10:13

OK, I will start. :)
Here are very brief comments, and not all.
1. BW-balance: betweens tenutos, slurs, hairpins, flags, staff/barlines. It is to much different.
2. Hairpins stronger (less white), less opening.
3. Tenutos less black.
4. Some slurs should be edited to be less curved (first bars). Some slurs have to be positioned better (page 2 / measure 5, ...)
5. Minion VS music font: Minion looks very artificial. Other symbols like :f are smooth, but Minion is thin and straight. (try Muzitex)
6. Position of symbols is not perfect (some closer, some more away, some inconsistent). I know you say it is a very first draft. Just a refection.
This is my opinion, let us see what others have to say.
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Re: Mastering Rachmaninoff

Post by OCTO » 29 Mar 2016, 10:17

BTW, can you post Music XML so that we can come with some ideas, without typing it?
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Knut
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Re: Mastering Rachmaninoff

Post by Knut » 29 Mar 2016, 11:51

I agree with OCTO to some degree about the balance and choice of fonts, but this is not the thing I would primarily focus on. Here's what I'd start with:

1. The opening right-hand figure and similar figures in the following measures should have consistent stem direction (stem up) and consistent slur placement (below).

2. The <> is not correctly placed horizontally according to the 1st edition. Unless the manuscript gives different information, I'd refer to that. It's not completely clear by the vertical placement that it applies only to the upper staff. I'd place the <> above the staff to remove all doubt, and move the staves closer together as a result. Also, I would reduce the openings and increase the line width of the hairpins throughout, like OCTO suggested.

3. Dynamics applying only to the left hand are generally placed too far from the notes/staff. In other places dynamics applying to both staves are not centered properly between the staves. Also, there's a mf indication missing below the staff in measure 18 of p. 2.

4. Some of your slur edits are overdone (e.g. p. 3, mm. 6–7, left hand). A small rightward shift in the shape might be appropriate here, but this is way too much.

5. Your arpeggio lines are generally slightly too short. They should reach the outer edges of the notehead above and below, and a slight overshoot is better than the opposite.

6. Tie placement/direction in mm. 11–12 and mm. 15–16 should be consistent. It's best too keep ties on the seconds opposite, but be sure to place them in a way so they don't collide with notes in the upper layer.

7. I'd retain the indication poco a poco cresc. e accel. used in the 1st edition, unless the manuscript says otherwise. I think you have a stylistic choice of putting it in bold face above the staves, or in italic, centered between the staves. Either way, I'd use a dotted line to clarify it's length.

8. On p. 3, 1st system, the staves are too far apart, and the dynamics misplaced. Move the initial mf to the left to make room and move p to the 2nd beat of m. 2. Move the staves closer together and center dynamics between the staves.

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Re: Mastering Rachmaninoff

Post by Knut » 29 Mar 2016, 14:12

An additional thought about comment number 7 above:

I think it's appropriate to retain both dynamic and tempo information within the same expression here because it might have interpretive consequences. (Hopefully John will share his opinions on this.) A shared expression also makes it easier to process the information.

I would, however, write it out as Accel. e cresc. poco a poco if placed above the staves, and cresc. e accel. poco a poco if placed between the staves. That way, the expression will seem more familiar within the respective text style. The reason for placing poco a poco at the end in either case is because this is the less important part of the expression and is just as correct (or even more correct, depending on who you ask) Italian as placing it in front.

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Re: Mastering Rachmaninoff

Post by John Ruggero » 29 Mar 2016, 17:01

I am left with a question.

Why not use the original edition, which is probably very close to the MS, as your primary source? The Muzgiz is a secondary source of dubious merit, and it is so badly engraved. The original edition is superior in every way, from overall layout and density, page turns (none needed), positioning of dynamics and hairpins etc. to what you are coming up with.

I will use measure one as an example.

First edition:
Rachmaninoff Prelude.jpeg
Rachmaninoff Prelude.jpeg (42.33 KiB) Viewed 2693 times
The original hairpins indicate a SMALL swell toward the beginning of the third beat. Including them within the slurs to place them very close to the lowest RH voice shows that the swell is mainly for this voice. The P marking is placed above the staff to show the two completely different tonal planes in each hand.

Muzgiz:
Rachmaninoff Prelude 2.jpeg
Rachmaninoff Prelude 2.jpeg (43.89 KiB) Viewed 2693 times
Most of this is destroyed in Muzgiz. Where is the peak of the swell? On the AND of the 2nd beat? OMG!!! And it now appears that the swell is for the entire chord, which cannot be given the thinning of the the texture from 4 notes to 3. The P is repositioned in an attempt to point out the middle voice. More information is lost.

As an exercise leading up to op. 30, I would first try to understand exactly why R. wrote what he wrote by studying the first edition. Then imitate the original edition exactly as it stands. I would only make changes that were real improvements, i.e. where spacing might be improved a little here and there etc.
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Re: Mastering Rachmaninoff

Post by DatOrganistTho » 30 Mar 2016, 02:17

OCTO wrote:BTW, can you post Music XML so that we can come with some ideas, without typing it?
I can post the .ly files and see if I can't convert it.

If anyone knows of a ly2xml tool, that would be great.
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Re: Mastering Rachmaninoff

Post by DatOrganistTho » 30 Mar 2016, 02:25

OCTO wrote:OK, I will start. :)
Here are very brief comments, and not all.
1. BW-balance: betweens tenutos, slurs, hairpins, flags, staff/barlines. It is to much different.
2. Hairpins stronger (less white), less opening.
3. Tenutos less black.
4. Some slurs should be edited to be less curved (first bars). Some slurs have to be positioned better (page 2 / measure 5, ...)
5. Minion VS music font: Minion looks very artificial. Other symbols like :f are smooth, but Minion is thin and straight. (try Muzitex)
6. Position of symbols is not perfect (some closer, some more away, some inconsistent). I know you say it is a very first draft. Just a refection.
This is my opinion, let us see what others have to say.
Could you explain what you are meaning by BW-balance? Are you saying the glyphs themselves are too contrasting?

Also, are you saying that the hairpins are this way and need to change, or that they need to change to this standard?

I concede that the 5th measure 2nd page was an error of mine.
Muzitex
I can try. Are you saying that the entire font system needs to be different or just individual elements?
Position of symbols is not perfect (some closer, some more away, some inconsistent)
Part of this is a learning curve I'm going through with LilyPond. If I could know more detail on what you are describing that would help me understand what I need to learn to tweak.
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Re: Mastering Rachmaninoff

Post by DatOrganistTho » 30 Mar 2016, 02:31

John Ruggero wrote:I am left with a question.

Why not use the original edition, which is probably very close to the MS, as your primary source? The Muzgiz is a secondary source of dubious merit, and it is so badly engraved. The original edition is superior in every way, from overall layout and density, page turns (none needed), positioning of dynamics and hairpins etc. to what you are coming up with.

I will use measure one as an example.

First edition:
Rachmaninoff Prelude.jpeg
The original hairpins indicate a SMALL swell toward the beginning of the third beat. Including them within the slurs to place them very close to the lowest RH voice shows that the swell is mainly for this voice. The P marking is placed above the staff to show the two completely different tonal planes in each hand.

Muzgiz:
Rachmaninoff Prelude 2.jpeg
Most of this is destroyed in Muzgiz. Where is the peak of the swell? On the AND of the 2nd beat? OMG!!! And it now appears that the swell is for the entire chord, which cannot be given the thinning of the the texture from 4 notes to 3. The P is repositioned in an attempt to point out the middle voice. More information is lost.

As an exercise leading up to op. 30, I would first try to understand exactly why R. wrote what he wrote by studying the first edition. Then imitate the original edition exactly as it stands. I would only make changes that were real improvements, i.e. where spacing might be improved a little here and there etc.
Why not use the original edition, which is probably very close to the MS, as your primary source?
Rachmaninoff, historically speaking, has gone through numerous edits and has drastically changed many things with his music over many drafts. So, his MS is not necessarily the best source for what he intended, and it is not always the first edition that has the best version. Sometimes, like with his second piano sonata, he does an enormous amount of editing and expects people to use the second version more consistently.
dubious merit
How so? I'm not aware of their historical artifacts as being dubious.
The original edition is superior in every way, from overall layout and density, page turns (none needed), positioning of dynamics and hairpins etc. to what you are coming up with.


Don't forget this is a very rough draft. My intention is to plunge into the engraving difficulties that naturally accompany this monster of a composer. I am well aware, and I intend to recommend, that other editions are superior to mine.
I would first try to understand exactly why R. wrote what he wrote by studying the first edition.
Thought for thought, I need to see why you believe that it is a superior edition to study, beyond the engraving quality.
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Re: Mastering Rachmaninoff

Post by DatOrganistTho » 30 Mar 2016, 02:37

Perhaps I have misled some with what edition I have been consulting. It began with the 1975/6 Muz. edition, and eventually branched over to Henle. Not sure how some feel about that.
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