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 Post subject: Re: Mystery solved? To be, or not to be ... staccato
PostPosted: Tue Dec 20, 2011 2:19 am 
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undamped staccatos are impossible
Yes, this I believe, by definition. In the same way that vibrato on a piano is impossible (the gesture doesn't transmit mechanically into a difference in sound production), so too "staccato" where there are no dampers. If releasing the key doesn't stop the sound ... oh, well. What a difference an octave register makes on the instrument.

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 Post subject: Re: Mystery solved? To be, or not to be ... staccato
PostPosted: Tue Dec 20, 2011 8:38 am 
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Eddy, I think you ought to give Ginastera some credit instead of labeling his staccato 'senseless'. Let's instead assume he well knew what we was trying to achieve. I imagine he would laugh heartily about this hair-splitting and opinionated discussion over the true definition of staccato. Just my 2 cents here :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: Mystery solved? To be, or not to be ... staccato
PostPosted: Wed Dec 21, 2011 12:24 am 
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Chris,
Hair-splitting? Choice one: sound decays indefinitely; Choice two sound is quickly shortened. Hmm? It may be my very reserved manner of playing (meaning no histrionics, swaying back and forth, no mannerisms or affectations {or as viwed in a video by one of our own: playing slowly and deliberately with the hand palm-up to strike a singular note with the flat nail of the finger!}: mine is an extreme economy of gestures) that leads me to think that it is utterly rediculous, on its face, to pretend staccato where it is not physically possible on the instrument. FYI, I'm not philosophically a Relativist, and I believe that words, even musical jargon, have meaning. Oh well. How anyone could argue whether or not staccato is possible where there are no dampers is beyond me. I thought this subject was actually going to be interesting! It is amazing to me (and others too I'm sure) what can wrap us around the axle in discussion. Fortunately, the silence on the subject seems to indicate agreement that vibrato is not possible on the piano. :mrgreen:

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Eddy M. del Rio, MD
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 Post subject: Re: Mystery solved? To be, or not to be ... staccato
PostPosted: Wed Dec 21, 2011 9:11 am 
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No histrionics ? Booooring ..... :D

Anyway it was an interesting discussion, and you sure have made your point (whatever it was :mrgreen: )

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 Post subject: Re: Mystery solved? To be, or not to be ... staccato
PostPosted: Wed Dec 21, 2011 2:17 pm 
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musical-md wrote:
... no mannerisms or affectations { ... playing slowly and deliberately with the hand palm-up to strike a singular note with the flat nail of the finger!}:
Really! There is no need to play palm up, when it's perfectly possible to strike a note with the flat fingernail palm-down! All you need to do is curl your fingers so that their tips are at 180 degrees to the palm. :wink:
Quote:
How anyone could argue whether or not staccato is possible where there are no dampers is beyond me.
If you think that's what Chris and I argued then you have misunderstood us. What I've argued is that it may be possible that what Ginastera meant by putting staccato marks on these particular notes is not a simplistic "Play these notes short" (because I presume he knew this to be impossible), but rather "Do whatever you would do to play these notes short if it were possible" (and I have offered what I still believe to be a perfectly plausible reason why he might do so {and I should add that it is only plausible; what the true reason is, or indeed whether there even is one, I concede we will never know}, namely that a side-effect of the different form of attack would be to make dropped notes less likely - in other words it's an execution hint, in the same way a suggested fingering might be, to apply a technique which you may well have thought of independently: "What can I do to prevent these ppp notes from failing to sound? I know, I'll play them a bit more marcato. Oh, but wait a minute, this will boil down to raising the dynamic above the printed ppp. But this is contrary to instructions! What should I do?" By writing this "quasi-staccato" in for you, he is telling you that it's OK to do that). You may well ask "In that case why didn't he just write pp instead of ppp?" Perhaps he didn't want you to go all the way up to pp, but wanted to limit you to 2.5p, or 2.718281828p.
Quote:
Fortunately, the silence on the subject seems to indicate agreement that vibrato is not possible on the piano. :mrgreen:
Oh yes it is! :o That's not too difficult a challenge to rise to: If the strings for every note are deliberately made out of tune with each other, so as to produce a difference-frequency beat, this can sound somewhat like vibrato. Moreover, if only one string (the third) is de-tuned, you can then use the una corda pedal to avoid striking it, thereby switching off most of the vibrato effect. Cool, eh? - Don't try this at home, kids!


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 Post subject: Re: Mystery solved? To be, or not to be ... staccato
PostPosted: Wed Dec 21, 2011 4:13 pm 
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To roll up the discussion, Wikipedia says that staccato is a form of musical articulation. It does not mention anything about the availability or lack of dampers. But what do they know ! Maybe that article needs to be rewritten now ... any volunteers ? :mrgreen:

Seriously now, they have all the right references (Harvard, Oxford, grove) so I assume this article should be right. References to staccato I could find on the web are always about staccato playing, not about staccato sound.

Now what I want to know is, and I think is a more interesting topic, why are there no dampers up there :?: Sure, the decay is pretty quick there but I still find it irritating now and then. Seems a bit lame to leave them out just to cut some costs. Maybe there are pianos with dampers all the way up ? Or does some physical law say that is not possible ?

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 Post subject: Re: Mystery solved? To be, or not to be ... staccato
PostPosted: Wed Dec 21, 2011 5:02 pm 
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All I know is that when a piece I am recording ends on very high notes (where there are no dampers), there is no decay at all and I can't sneeze or breathe because the tone is still ringing out a little and I don't want to cut off the recording too quickly, because then you'll hear that the recording did not get to the very end. (sorry, long sentence...)

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 Post subject: Re: Mystery solved? To be, or not to be ... staccato
PostPosted: Wed Dec 21, 2011 6:05 pm 
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techneut wrote:
Now what I want to know is, and I think is a more interesting topic, why are there no dampers up there :?: Sure, the decay is pretty quick there but I still find it irritating now and then. Seems a bit lame to leave them out just to cut some costs. Maybe there are pianos with dampers all the way up ? Or does some physical law say that is not possible ?


One reason that they are left undamped is to add to the color. These strings will vibrate sympathetically with the upper harmonics of the lower notes.

It should be noted the the number of dampers vary by make and model of piano. A Steinway D has 71 (to G6), Steinway M, L, and B have 67 (to D#6). I believe Yamahas in general have 69 (to F6). There may be pianos with more or fewer dampers.

Scott


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 Post subject: Re: Mystery solved? To be, or not to be ... staccato
PostPosted: Wed Dec 21, 2011 6:17 pm 
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Thanks Scott, that seems to make sense. For fun, I'll try out how it sounds when these strings ARE damped.

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 Post subject: Re: Mystery solved? To be, or not to be ... staccato
PostPosted: Wed Dec 21, 2011 8:52 pm 
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@ Rainer: Good one about the vibrato, though I thought my version was funnier :D
@ Chris: The reason that the Wikipedia article on staccato doesn't mention dampers, is that a bassoon has none, as rainer will attest to (or insert many other instruments). So its about the sound, not the mechanical aspect. Consider the first sound of the Beethoven Symphony No. 3, all staccato, not a damper to be seen: :wink:


Attachments:
Beethoven Op.55.gif
Beethoven Op.55.gif [ 169.62 KiB | Viewed 3770 times ]

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Eddy M. del Rio, MD
"A smattering will not do. They must know all the keys, major and minor, and they must literally 'know them backwards.'" - Josef Lhevinne
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 Post subject: Re: Mystery solved? To be, or not to be ... staccato
PostPosted: Wed Dec 21, 2011 10:54 pm 
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musical-md wrote:
The reason that the Wikipedia article on staccato doesn't mention dampers, is that a bassoon has none, as rainer will attest to (or insert many other instruments). So its about the sound, not the mechanical aspect. Consider the first sound of the Beethoven Symphony No. 3, all staccato, not a damper to be seen: :wink:
Not true. Timpani (and many other percussion instruments) are similar to the piano in that their sound rings on for a considerable time unless explicitly damped. In your Eroica example, the timpanist will hit the drum head with the stick held in one hand while the other hand is hovering above the surface, poised for its fingertips to come down to kill the sound more or less as soon as the stick has bounced off it.

String instruments also ring on, though to a much lesser extent, if you give the note a sharp attack and then lift the bow off the string. Take the Eroica's first cello note. This Eb will probably be fingered with the first finger on the D string. The finger presses the string hard against the fingerboard. The note will probably be started with the bow resting on the string but not moving (as opposed to the bow already moving while it makes contact with the string) because accelerating the bow from rest gives the note a nice sharp attack. The player will then lift the bow off the string, and at this point the sound will begin to decay, but will ring on unless the player damps it by reducing pressure on the aforementioned finger - not enough to lift the finger off the string, but enough to lift the string off the fingerboard. The finger thus acts as a damper.

Even on woodwind instruments there is some ringing on, though much less still than on a string instrument. The note will stop if you just stop blowing, but the envelope will tend to exhibit a characteristic decay profile. If you want the profile to be a bit more square at the end, you need to use an explicit damping technique such as touching the reed with your tongue or blocking off the airflow. Listen to (and perhaps look at the waveform also) of the attached short clip in which I play the same few notes five times on my bassoon. The first is more or less tenuto, the third and fifth are ordinary staccato (the third more than the fifth) and the second and fourth are staccato with damping.


Attachments:
File comment: Bassoon staccato examples
bassoon.mp3 [309.39 KiB]
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 Post subject: Re: Mystery solved? To be, or not to be ... staccato
PostPosted: Wed Dec 21, 2011 11:03 pm 
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And the dispute goes on....... *YAWN*

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 Post subject: Re: Mystery solved? To be, or not to be ... staccato
PostPosted: Thu Dec 22, 2011 12:11 am 
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Rainer,
Now there's an idea. That high piano passage could be played staccato with the pianist performing as a human damper with his nose, as he has no free fingers, perhaps a la Crumb. :lol:

No one said that a Bassoon doesn't play staccato (as the score I provided proves), I said it doesn't have dampers <a noun, not a verb>. I guess you missed the point.

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Eddy M. del Rio, MD
"A smattering will not do. They must know all the keys, major and minor, and they must literally 'know them backwards.'" - Josef Lhevinne


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 Post subject: Re: Mystery solved? To be, or not to be ... staccato
PostPosted: Thu Dec 22, 2011 1:05 am 
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musical-md wrote:
No one said that a Bassoon doesn't play staccato (as the score I provided proves), I said it doesn't have dampers <a noun, not a verb>. I guess you missed the point.
Forget the bassoon, just consider the timps. You said no damper is used in the Eroica's opening chord, but that's incorrect since clearly the timps must be damped. In this context the difference between noun and verb is unimportant: If you can dampen (verb) any instrument's sound with something, even if it's your hand, then that something is the damper (noun), it doesn't have to be an integral mechanical component of the instrument.

Anyway, this is all getting a bit far from the original point, and I get the feeling Chris is wanting us to put a damper :) on this discussion, so perhaps we should call it a day since we don't seem to be converging.


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 Post subject: Re: Mystery solved? To be, or not to be ... staccato
PostPosted: Thu Dec 22, 2011 1:12 am 
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Good pun. I agree.

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Eddy M. del Rio, MD
"A smattering will not do. They must know all the keys, major and minor, and they must literally 'know them backwards.'" - Josef Lhevinne


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 Post subject: Re: Mystery solved? To be, or not to be ... staccato
PostPosted: Thu Dec 22, 2011 7:54 am 
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rainer wrote:
Anyway, this is all getting a bit far from the original point, and I get the feeling Chris is wanting us to put a damper :) on this discussion
Heck no, this is all far too civilized for a moderator to put a damper one. By all means you two carry on until eternity - if you think it helps :lol: You might eventually get to discuss staccato on the glass harmonica. Now that would be interesting.

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 Post subject: Re: Mystery solved? To be, or not to be ... staccato
PostPosted: Thu Dec 22, 2011 6:01 pm 
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techneut wrote:
rainer wrote:
Anyway, this is all getting a bit far from the original point, and I get the feeling Chris is wanting us to put a damper :) on this discussion
Heck no, this is all far too civilized for a moderator to put a damper one. By all means you two carry on until eternity - if you think it helps :lol: You might eventually get to discuss staccato on the glass harmonica. Now that would be interesting.

Now you're starting to rub me the wrong way! :evil:

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Eddy M. del Rio, MD
"A smattering will not do. They must know all the keys, major and minor, and they must literally 'know them backwards.'" - Josef Lhevinne


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 Post subject: Re: Mystery solved? To be, or not to be ... staccato
PostPosted: Thu Dec 22, 2011 7:42 pm 
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Oh dear !

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 Post subject: Re: Mystery solved? To be, or not to be ... staccato
PostPosted: Thu Dec 22, 2011 8:23 pm 
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techneut wrote:
Oh dear !
Me thinks you missed the pun. :wink:

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Eddy M. del Rio, MD
"A smattering will not do. They must know all the keys, major and minor, and they must literally 'know them backwards.'" - Josef Lhevinne


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 Post subject: Re: Mystery solved? To be, or not to be ... staccato
PostPosted: Fri Dec 23, 2011 3:05 am 
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musical-md wrote:
techneut wrote:
Oh dear !
Me thinks you missed the pun. :wink:
So did I, I'm sorry to say. But once I knew I was looking for a pun, it didn't take long for the penny to drop. It's actually quite good!


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 Post subject: Re: Mystery solved? To be, or not to be ... staccato
PostPosted: Fri Dec 23, 2011 2:55 pm 
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I'm known not to notice a pun until someone rubs my nose in it.

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