Discussion:
Do any chamber groups deliberately and consistently use none equal intonation in recordings of Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert etc?
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Mandryka
2018-12-19 06:24:09 UTC
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One of the themes of recent performances of early music has been exploring non equal temperament. There are experiments on record by Hilliard Ensemble, for example, and keyboard performances very frequently use instruments which are tuned in some sort of meantone. It makes a huge difference to the harmonies, IMO for the better!

I’m wondering if anyone’s tried this on record with classical quartets etc, and if not, why not?
Herman
2018-12-19 08:25:20 UTC
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Post by Mandryka
One of the themes of recent performances of early music has been exploring non equal temperament. There are experiments on record by Hilliard Ensemble, for example, and keyboard performances very frequently use instruments which are tuned in some sort of meantone. It makes a huge difference to the harmonies, IMO for the better!
I’m wondering if anyone’s tried this on record with classical quartets etc, and if not, why not?
A string quartet by definition works with non equal temperament, i.e. they shape the chord around the leading note. That's one of the things that make quartet playing so hard.
Mandryka
2018-12-19 09:12:16 UTC
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Post by Herman
Post by Mandryka
One of the themes of recent performances of early music has been exploring non equal temperament. There are experiments on record by Hilliard Ensemble, for example, and keyboard performances very frequently use instruments which are tuned in some sort of meantone. It makes a huge difference to the harmonies, IMO for the better!
I’m wondering if anyone’s tried this on record with classical quartets etc, and if not, why not?
A string quartet by definition works with non equal temperament, i.e. they shape the chord around the leading note. That's one of the things that make quartet playing so hard.
Thanks Herman.

Rogers Covey-Crump in an essay on Dufay wrote "Practical experience and analysis of a capella singing has convinced me that experienced amateur and professional singers tend towards Just (Pure) Intonation, particularly as the size of the ensemble approaches one voice to a part a. . ." and I guessed that a string quartet is a bit like four a capella singers.

What would be really nice is if you or someone else could produce an example on record of some specially effective, imaginative, surprising, revealing "chord shaping"
Herman
2018-12-19 09:26:47 UTC
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The thing is, string quartets have been doing this forever. It's not new, it's not surprising. It's what you've been hearing all your life. An old style quartet like the Amadeus did it the same way the Mosaiques did it (except the latter play a lower pitch and gut strings - though maybe the Amadeus played gut, too, at first).
Herman
2018-12-19 09:33:39 UTC
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It's just in the nature of (fretless) string playing. If you play a E major scale and hit the Dsharp it's not entirely the same pitch as the Eflat you're going to play in the Bflat scale.

On a piano you hit the same key for the Dsharp and the Eflat.
Mandryka
2018-12-19 11:21:25 UTC
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I see, but I'm guessing that there's an art to it. I mean, let me ask this question. Are there any old teaching manuals or remarks from composers which explain how musicians in ensembles of non fretted instruments should do it? What sort of embellishments (by playing enharmonics etc) would Beethoven, Haydn, Mozart etc have been expecting instrumentalists to use?

With singers in little a cappella ensembles, I bet that forming chords non-equally isn't a standard practice, like you've said it is for quartets. I'm not sure about this, but later recordings by Hilliard Ensemble sound much more crunchy in chords than Gothic Voices.

When Dietrich Fischer Dieskau and Julia Varady sang Schumann duets, were they really singing non equally when they formed chords?
Herman
2018-12-19 13:20:41 UTC
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Post by Mandryka
I see, but I'm guessing that there's an art to it. I mean, let me ask this question. Are there any old teaching manuals or remarks from composers which explain how musicians in ensembles of non fretted instruments should do it?
I doubt there are manuals for this, since it's not something you can describe. It's the difference between leaning back or forward with your finger on the string. A violin fingerboard is just this tiny thing; the slightest move you make makes a difference. You make the adjustment as you're playing, and the art consists of listening real close to the other guys while you're playing. That's what they're doing while they're playing the music.

That's the strange psychological make-up of good musicians: they're both totally wrapped up in themselves, and yet they're intensily collaborative. I have come to abhor the type of soloist who stands in front of the orchestra and glances at the conductor maybe three times during the entire concerto. It's a generational thing perhaps, but today's soloists are (generally) looking at the orchestra and the conductor much more. Janine Jansen is, obviously, exemplary in this respect.
g***@gmail.com
2018-12-19 18:59:53 UTC
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Post by Mandryka
I see, but I'm guessing that there's an art to it. I mean, let me ask this question. Are there any old teaching manuals or remarks from composers which explain how musicians in ensembles of non fretted instruments should do it?
I doubt there are manuals for this, since it's not something you can describe...
Consider the following:

- [Polanyi] offers the interesting insight that often the essence of a skill cannot be adequately described, measured, or specified. Hence, these kinds of skills cannot be transmitted by written descriptions and instructions intended to be memorized by later generations. In Polanyi's words:

"An art which cannot be specified in detail cannot be transmitted by prescription, since no prescription for it exists. It can be passed on only by example from master to apprentice. ...

"It follows that an art which has fallen into disuse for the period of a generation is altogether lost. There are hundreds of examples of this to which the process of mechanization is continuously adding new ones. These losses are usually irretrievable. It is pathetic to watch the endless efforts--equipped with microscopy and chemistry, with mathematics and electronics--to reproduce a single violin of the kind the half-literate Stradivarius turned out as a matter of routine more than 200 years ago." (P. 53.)

It is Polanyi's view that we can learn a skill only by imitating the skillful performance of one who has mastered the skill--even though the teacher whom we imitate cannot specify and measure every detail of his art...

Continuing the quotation from Polanyi, note that he is writing not about religion, but about knowledge as a field of science, even though he does (perhaps unintentionally) make a point about religion:

"To learn by example is to submit to authority. You follow your master because you trust his manner of doing things even when you cannot analyse and account in detail for its effectiveness. By watching the master and emulating his efforts in the presence of his example, the apprentice unconsciously picks up the rules of the art, including those which are not explicitly known to the master himself. These hidden rules can be assimilated only by a person who surrenders himself to that extent uncritically to the imitation of another. A society which wants to preserve a fund of personal knowledge must submit to tradition." (P. 53.)

https://www.lds.org/ensign/1977/06/the-value-of-the-veil?lang=eng
g***@gmail.com
2018-12-19 19:09:04 UTC
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Post by Mandryka
I see, but I'm guessing that there's an art to it. I mean, let me ask this question. Are there any old teaching manuals or remarks from composers which explain how musicians in ensembles of non fretted instruments should do it?
I doubt there are manuals for this, since it's not something you can describe...
"An art which cannot be specified in detail cannot be transmitted by prescription, since no prescription for it exists. It can be passed on only by example from master to apprentice. ...
"It follows that an art which has fallen into disuse for the period of a generation is altogether lost. There are hundreds of examples of this to which the process of mechanization is continuously adding new ones. These losses are usually irretrievable. It is pathetic to watch the endless efforts--equipped with microscopy and chemistry, with mathematics and electronics--to reproduce a single violin of the kind the half-literate Stradivarius turned out as a matter of routine more than 200 years ago." (P. 53.)
It is Polanyi's view that we can learn a skill only by imitating the skillful performance of one who has mastered the skill--even though the teacher whom we imitate cannot specify and measure every detail of his art...
"To learn by example is to submit to authority. You follow your master because you trust his manner of doing things even when you cannot analyse and account in detail for its effectiveness. By watching the master and emulating his efforts in the presence of his example, the apprentice unconsciously picks up the rules of the art, including those which are not explicitly known to the master himself. These hidden rules can be assimilated only by a person who surrenders himself to that extent uncritically to the imitation of another. A society which wants to preserve a fund of personal knowledge must submit to tradition." (P. 53.)
https://www.lds.org/ensign/1977/06/the-value-of-the-veil?lang=eng
- Violin playing is a perishable art. It must be passed on as a personal skill; otherwise it is lost.

Heifetz
g***@gmail.com
2018-12-19 19:10:50 UTC
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Post by Mandryka
I see, but I'm guessing that there's an art to it. I mean, let me ask this question. Are there any old teaching manuals or remarks from composers which explain how musicians in ensembles of non fretted instruments should do it?
I doubt there are manuals for this, since it's not something you can describe...
"An art which cannot be specified in detail cannot be transmitted by prescription, since no prescription for it exists. It can be passed on only by example from master to apprentice. ...
"It follows that an art which has fallen into disuse for the period of a generation is altogether lost. There are hundreds of examples of this to which the process of mechanization is continuously adding new ones. These losses are usually irretrievable. It is pathetic to watch the endless efforts--equipped with microscopy and chemistry, with mathematics and electronics--to reproduce a single violin of the kind the half-literate Stradivarius turned out as a matter of routine more than 200 years ago." (P. 53.)
It is Polanyi's view that we can learn a skill only by imitating the skillful performance of one who has mastered the skill--even though the teacher whom we imitate cannot specify and measure every detail of his art...
"To learn by example is to submit to authority. You follow your master because you trust his manner of doing things even when you cannot analyse and account in detail for its effectiveness. By watching the master and emulating his efforts in the presence of his example, the apprentice unconsciously picks up the rules of the art, including those which are not explicitly known to the master himself. These hidden rules can be assimilated only by a person who surrenders himself to that extent uncritically to the imitation of another. A society which wants to preserve a fund of personal knowledge must submit to tradition." (P. 53.)
https://www.lds.org/ensign/1977/06/the-value-of-the-veil?lang=eng
- Violin playing is a perishable art. It must be passed on as a personal skill; otherwise it is lost.
Heifetz
This may also be of interest:

https://groups.google.com/forum/#!searchin/rec.music.classical.recordings/heifetz$20violin$20playing$20perishable%7Csort:date/rec.music.classical.recordings/g_3Rca782Ik/hxxYpHfCxkUJ
g***@gmail.com
2019-02-21 06:23:16 UTC
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Post by Mandryka
I see, but I'm guessing that there's an art to it. I mean, let me ask this question. Are there any old teaching manuals or remarks from composers which explain how musicians in ensembles of non fretted instruments should do it?
I doubt there are manuals for this, since it's not something you can describe...
"An art which cannot be specified in detail cannot be transmitted by prescription, since no prescription for it exists. It can be passed on only by example from master to apprentice. ...
"It follows that an art which has fallen into disuse for the period of a generation is altogether lost. There are hundreds of examples of this to which the process of mechanization is continuously adding new ones. These losses are usually irretrievable. It is pathetic to watch the endless efforts--equipped with microscopy and chemistry, with mathematics and electronics--to reproduce a single violin of the kind the half-literate Stradivarius turned out as a matter of routine more than 200 years ago." (P. 53.)
It is Polanyi's view that we can learn a skill only by imitating the skillful performance of one who has mastered the skill--even though the teacher whom we imitate cannot specify and measure every detail of his art...
"To learn by example is to submit to authority. You follow your master because you trust his manner of doing things even when you cannot analyse and account in detail for its effectiveness. By watching the master and emulating his efforts in the presence of his example, the apprentice unconsciously picks up the rules of the art, including those which are not explicitly known to the master himself. These hidden rules can be assimilated only by a person who surrenders himself to that extent uncritically to the imitation of another. A society which wants to preserve a fund of personal knowledge must submit to tradition." (P. 53.)
https://www.lds.org/ensign/1977/06/the-value-of-the-veil?lang=eng
- Education is an admirable thing. But it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.

Oscar Wilde
g***@gmail.com
2019-06-10 06:32:27 UTC
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Post by Mandryka
I see, but I'm guessing that there's an art to it. I mean, let me ask this question. Are there any old teaching manuals or remarks from composers which explain how musicians in ensembles of non fretted instruments should do it?
I doubt there are manuals for this, since it's not something you can describe...
"An art which cannot be specified in detail cannot be transmitted by prescription, since no prescription for it exists. It can be passed on only by example from master to apprentice. ...
"It follows that an art which has fallen into disuse for the period of a generation is altogether lost. There are hundreds of examples of this to which the process of mechanization is continuously adding new ones. These losses are usually irretrievable. It is pathetic to watch the endless efforts--equipped with microscopy and chemistry, with mathematics and electronics--to reproduce a single violin of the kind the half-literate Stradivarius turned out as a matter of routine more than 200 years ago." (P. 53.)
It is Polanyi's view that we can learn a skill only by imitating the skillful performance of one who has mastered the skill--even though the teacher whom we imitate cannot specify and measure every detail of his art...
"To learn by example is to submit to authority. You follow your master because you trust his manner of doing things even when you cannot analyse and account in detail for its effectiveness. By watching the master and emulating his efforts in the presence of his example, the apprentice unconsciously picks up the rules of the art, including those which are not explicitly known to the master himself. These hidden rules can be assimilated only by a person who surrenders himself to that extent uncritically to the imitation of another. A society which wants to preserve a fund of personal knowledge must submit to tradition." (P. 53.)
https://www.lds.org/ensign/1977/06/the-value-of-the-veil?lang=eng
Concerning Hesse's GLASS BEAD GAME:

- Secondary to the question of purpose, but only marginally so, is the topic of apprenticeship, the way in which human knowledge, about life in general and the meditative experience in particular, is transmitted from one generation to another through the relationship of the apprentice with his master. This relationship is given almost sacred attention in the book, through the life of Joseph Knecht himself, first as an apprentice to the Music Master and eventually as a master himself, and second through the crucial role that apprenticeship plays in all of the Three Lives. Initially I found this focus interesting if a little overwrought. The Order is in many ways an idealization and super-instantiation of today’s academia. And in that sense, in the scholastic sense of learning and acquiring technical knowledge, the concept of apprenticeship rung hollow, as so much of modern learning is insular and individualistic. But as I read through the Three Lives it dawned on me that his conception of apprenticeship is much broader. It is not just about learning how to compose music, or how to play the Glass Bead Game. Apprenticeship in the book is construed in the broadest terms possible. It is about the process of learning about the world, of learning about the struggle to define one’s purpose and sense of being. In that sense, apprenticeship is sacred. In that sense, I could deeply relate, for I too had my mentors.

https://moalquraishi.wordpress.com/2013/05/05/the-glass-bead-game-by-hermann-hesse/
g***@gmail.com
2019-09-20 00:39:45 UTC
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Post by Mandryka
I see, but I'm guessing that there's an art to it. I mean, let me ask this question. Are there any old teaching manuals or remarks from composers which explain how musicians in ensembles of non fretted instruments should do it?
I doubt there are manuals for this, since it's not something you can describe...
"An art which cannot be specified in detail cannot be transmitted by prescription, since no prescription for it exists. It can be passed on only by example from master to apprentice. ...
"It follows that an art which has fallen into disuse for the period of a generation is altogether lost. There are hundreds of examples of this to which the process of mechanization is continuously adding new ones. These losses are usually irretrievable. It is pathetic to watch the endless efforts--equipped with microscopy and chemistry, with mathematics and electronics--to reproduce a single violin of the kind the half-literate Stradivarius turned out as a matter of routine more than 200 years ago." (P. 53.)
It is Polanyi's view that we can learn a skill only by imitating the skillful performance of one who has mastered the skill--even though the teacher whom we imitate cannot specify and measure every detail of his art...
"To learn by example is to submit to authority. You follow your master because you trust his manner of doing things even when you cannot analyse and account in detail for its effectiveness. By watching the master and emulating his efforts in the presence of his example, the apprentice unconsciously picks up the rules of the art, including those which are not explicitly known to the master himself. These hidden rules can be assimilated only by a person who surrenders himself to that extent uncritically to the imitation of another. A society which wants to preserve a fund of personal knowledge must submit to tradition." (P. 53.)
https://www.lds.org/ensign/1977/06/the-value-of-the-veil?lang=eng
According to the following on Chopin:

- His playing is shot through with a thousand nuances of movement of which he alone holds the secret, impossible to convey by instructions...

Berlioz

http://www.classicalnotes.net/classics3/chopinwaltzes.html

g***@gmail.com
2018-12-19 18:50:49 UTC
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I see, but I'm guessing that there's an art to it. I mean, let me ask this question. Are there any old teaching manuals or remarks from composers which explain how musicians in ensembles of non fretted instruments should do it?...
The following may be of interest:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Musical_temperament#Further_reading
Ricardo Jimenez
2018-12-19 14:47:27 UTC
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Post by Herman
It's just in the nature of (fretless) string playing. If you play a E major scale and hit the Dsharp it's not entirely the same pitch as the Eflat you're going to play in the Bflat scale.
On a piano you hit the same key for the Dsharp and the Eflat.
I do remember Pinchas Zuckerman saying (or bragging?) that he, unlike
many of his colleagues, always makes a difference between Dsharp and
Eflat.
Mandryka
2018-12-19 18:18:38 UTC
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Another, possibly related question. Do people in quartets embellish the music by playing microtones away from the note as written?

This came up in a discussion recently about The London Haydn Quartet. Someone said (and we've heard this before) "bad intonation" and someone else responded "expressive intonation, deliberately embellished harmonies."

In early music there's something called Musica Ficta, where singers may flatten a note in order to create a more suitable harmony -- of course what "more suitable" means is a much debated and very complicated HIP area!
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