Edition of Scarlatti K. 2

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John Ruggero
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Edition of Scarlatti K. 2

Post by John Ruggero »

Scarlatti K. 2 Commentary

The edition may be found at the end of this commentary.

The centered beaming used in this sonata is interesting. There are four cases:

A. With centered beaming, the broken sixths (as in m. 7 etc.) appear to move in smooth parallel sixths rather than as a series of leaping notes, which might affect the performance. The very consistent beaming in groups of 2 sixteenths may indicate pairs of slurred notes.

B. The apparently inconsistent beaming of some groups as a group of six and others as 2 + 4, (with and without centered beams) derives from Scarlatti’s desire to set off the first note of each of these measures, possibly as a note to be freely held through the following as different voice. To avoid overcomplicating the notation by adding a third voice, he probably originally wrote:
Scarlatti K 2 Commnentary ex 1.png
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The engraver used various alternatives, since this is difficult to engrave. When possible, the centered beam was retained between the first two notes, but the beam broken between the second and third notes, a common engraving strategy of the time. When a centered beam was not possible because the first interval was less than a fifth, or a ledger line was involved, either 1) the beam break and change of stem direction change was retained, or 2) if the stem direction could not be changed, the beam break was omitted and the six notes were beamed as a group of six. Since choice 2) appears illogical to me, I have substituted a beam break without a change of stem direction, so that every group retains at least the beam break.

C. ms. 36 and 77 are beamed 4 + 2 for the same reason, but now the centered beam occurs at the end of the measure to set off the last note as a pickup to the following measure.

D. Despite the ledger line, the engraver was able to retain the centered beam in measures like m. 21, which again shows two different voices combined into the one melodic line. I choose not to retain this centered beaming in the interests of clarity.

Scarlatti has been criticized for “breaking the rules”. But did he? Two examples:

m. 7-8 Scarlatti doubles the leading tone in D major and leads the two voices to the tonic in parallel octaves, a major crime in harmony class. But this was the only practical way to avoid leaving out a note, repeating the left-hand D or dropping into a lower register which would anticipate m. 11-12 where the passage is to repeat in varied form:
Scarlatti K 2 Commnentary ex 2.png
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m. 31-32 Here the chord succession A7-G or V-IV in the key of D is not a real chord progression. What would have been a four-measure phrase starting in m. 29 with the chord progression IV | I | ii6 V 6/4-5/3 | I in D major is interrupted at V in m. 32 after three measures, whereupon the phrase repeats complete as ms. 32-35. It is as if a repeat mark were placed around ms. 29-31. |: IV | I | ii6 V6/4-5/3 :| I This points out an important technique: one may place “repeat marks” around any bit of music without disturbing musical logic, just as one can repeat any word or words without disturbing the sense of a sentence. From this one may understand that harmony is not exclusively linear, and that we capable of understanding it in more complex ways. Other examples would be a V the ends a phrase with a half cadence and which therefore doesn’t resolve to the chord that follows, whether it is I or any other chord, or the V at the end of a sonata exposition or development, which are half cadences on a grand scale.
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OCTO
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Re: Edition of Scarlatti K. 2

Post by OCTO »

John Ruggero wrote:
11 Nov 2022, 23:10
B. The apparently inconsistent beaming of some groups as a group of six and others as 2 + 4, (with and without centered beams) derives from Scarlatti’s desire to set off the first note of each of these measures, possibly as a note to be freely held through the following as different voice. To avoid overcomplicating the notation by adding a third voice, he probably originally wrote:
I don't know why is this notated as it is, but I would keep in mind the musical structure of the previous measures.
Screenshot 2022-11-13 at 16.41.15.jpg
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Re: Edition of Scarlatti K. 2

Post by John Ruggero »

To me, the structure of the previous measure makes it even clearer why he wants to set the first note off with a centered beam. He is writing in three voices, but notating in two for simplicity. The middle notes in the first measure of the example: A-A-G# leads to last five sixteenth notes in the second measure: A-B-G#-A plus the final E used to fill out the rhythm and to double the melody note, the high E, and thus help bring it out and conceptually hold it through the entire measure as the main melody:
Scarlatti K 2 example.png
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By setting the first note off from the others with the centered beam, he hints at the proper interpretation: sustain the top note at least a little, and subordinate the notes that follow to show that they are an inner voice. Holding-through and using a different articulation for the last five 16th notes might accomplish this on a harpsichord. This might be enhanced with dynamics on a piano:

[attachment=0]Scarlatti K 2 example 2.png[/attachment
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Re: Edition of Scarlatti K. 2

Post by Schonbergian »

It continues to astound me that these works are not more well-known by pianists today. As an outsider to the piano world, it always seems like anything before Beethoven and Schubert (with the exception of Bach) tends to get the short end of the stick. I wonder how much of that is the issue with editions that John previously identified.

John, I appreciate that your piano fingerings avoid the over-fussiness that plagues so many modern editions of Baroque keyboard works.

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OCTO
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Re: Edition of Scarlatti K. 2

Post by OCTO »

John Ruggero wrote:
13 Nov 2022, 17:10
To me, the structure of the previous measure makes it even clearer why he wants to set the first note off with a centered beam.
Yes, but I have in mind the previous measures where it is notated as it is:
Screenshot 2022-11-15 at 14.43.35.jpg
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It is possible to see all this as three voices, but I think pragmatically it is too much cerebral activity for such a simple phrase.
The only reason the beam was flipped, in my opinion, is the distance between the first notes: first it is duodecima, and second is a bit tighter - decima, and with some tricks it could be notated as in the first two-bar:
Title.png
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Re: Edition of Scarlatti K. 2

Post by John Ruggero »

Sorry, I didn't get that, OCTO, I must be misunderstanding what you are saying. In both measures that you are pointing out, I see the interval of a tenth between the soprano and the bass part. The second measure is a transposition of the first measure down a fourth. So the space between the notes is the same from the engraving point of view.

I think that the centered beam was not used for the group in the second measure of your example, (even though Scarlatti might have used one in his manuscript), because engravers of that time tended to avoid centered beams when they might obscure a ledger line. I see this constantly in working with manuscripts and first editions of older music. For example, Scarlatti might have written something like this, which is more possible with handwriting than with engraving:
Scarlatti hand writing 2.png
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the engravers could have done the following, but decided not to use the centered beam for the the first group because of the possibility of obscuring reading the ledger line, but they could use the centered beam for the second one because there was no ledger line involved:
Scarlatti engraving.png
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They decided not to continue the beam through all six notes for the second group because it produces such an ugly result as seen in the first example in the commentary. But where there was no centered beam, they decided to continue the beam through all six notes.

In any case, none of the remaining cases of this figure (ms. 51, 53, 55, and 57) involve ledger lines and centered beams were used for all of them, which I feel is strong evidence for my explanation. This can be seen in the supplied first edition.

The reason that down-stems were used for the sixteen figure in the second measure of your example above was probably crowding from the staff above as can be seen in the suppled first edition.

But I do hear as well as see the passage in three voices, no matter how it is notated.
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Re: Edition of Scarlatti K. 2

Post by John Ruggero »

Thanks for the compliment, Schonbergian. I do try to come up with the best fingerings possible.

As you imply, a really accurate practical edition of Scarlatti's amazing sonatas would go a long way toward bringing greater appreciation of his achievement. I was recently listening to some of the competitors in the most recent Van Cliburn competition and was overjoyed to hear excellent and very exciting Scarlatti playing by one of the players, who played a long series of sonatas.
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Re: Edition of Scarlatti K. 2

Post by OCTO »

John Ruggero wrote:
15 Nov 2022, 21:49
But I do hear as well as see the passage in three voices, no matter how it is notated.
As a violinist playing Bach's Sonatas & Partitas, I totally understand! Sometimes it is not 3, but shifts between 2 and 4, or even 5 voices. Interestingly, some of Bach's single melodic movements from the work mentioned you can imagine in multiple voices, constantly! :)

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Re: Edition of Scarlatti K. 2

Post by John Ruggero »

Absolutely. Bach's unaccompanied Sonatas and Partitas are the ultimate examples of many voices within one melodic line.

I should have pointed out in the commentary that measures like m. 14 are the only ones in which the accompaniment drops out, leaving the melody to be heard on its own. This in itself makes these notes sound lighter and therefore subordinates them. The following chart shows the very quick changes in texture from each pair of measures to the next, each of which is summarized by the larger note chords after the equal signs. The alternation of full and thin high textures leads to m. 14 where a thin texture is followed by the thinnest of all, the unaccompanied sixteenth notes. The arrows show the relationship of the first pair of measures to the second, each clearly defined and related to each other by means of a trill ending:
textures.png
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