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Encyclopedia > Historically informed performance

The historically informed performance, period performance, or authentic performance movement is an approach by musicians and scholars to research and perform works of classical music in ways similar to how they may have been performed when they were originally written. The movement had its beginnings in the performance of Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque music, but subsequently came to incorporate the Classical and even Romantic eras as well. The two methods adopted by historically informed performance artists have been to use period instruments and to utilise treatises and other written evidence to gain insight into performance practice, i.e. stylistic and technical considerations based on how the works were originally played. This article discusses classical music in the first sense (see below). ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Renaissance music is European music written during the Renaissance, approximately 1400 to 1600. ... Baroque music describes an era and a set of styles of European classical music which were in widespread use between approximately 1600 and 1750 (see Dates of classical music eras for a discussion of the problems inherent in defining the beginning and end points). ... The Classical period in Western music occurred from about 1730 through 1820, despite considerable overlap at both ends with preceding and following periods, as is true for all musical eras. ... The era of Romantic music is defined as the period of European classical music that runs roughly from the early 1800s to the first decade of the 20th century, as well as music written according to the norms and styles of that period. ...

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Historically informed performance compared to traditional musical practice

Most historically informed performance artists advocate the practice as a way of achieving more artistically effective performances of older music. They feel that the gradual changes in the construction of instruments and in the training of musicians have produced instruments and styles that are optimal for (roughly) mid to late 19th-century music, but not for older work.


In the community of classical musicians, students have over the centuries learned ways of playing and interpreting music from their teachers and also from performances they hear. This results, to some degree, in stylistic accretion, as modes of performing developed by outstanding musicians are echoed through time in the performances of the younger musicians that they influenced. Thus, the way that music is performed is in part a function of the musical culture as it has evolved up to that time.


The historically informed performance movement emphasizes instead historical scholarship, covering both instruments and performance practice, in order to obtain a more direct view of original performance practices. Such scholarship is the work both of the performers themselves and of non-performing specialist scholars, usually working in universities.


Adherence to principles of historically informed performance is not an all-or-nothing matter. Many traditional musicians are deeply interested in what scholarship can tell us about how music was performed in the composer's time. Moreover, modern instruments can be played in ways that approximate to some degree what can be achieved on instruments of the composer's day.


Early instruments

Many of the instruments of early music disappeared from widespread use around the beginning of the Classical era. Others continued in use, but greatly altered their sound quality and playing characteristics in the course of the 19th century. In either case, when older instruments, or reconstructed versions of them, are used, they are called original instruments or period instruments. The discussion below (see also Organology) covers instruments that had to be revived entirely, followed by instruments whose earlier form was rediscovered. See also List of period instruments. Early music is commonly defined as European classical music from the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and the Baroque. ... The Classical period in Western music occurred from about 1730 through 1820, despite considerable overlap at both ends with preceding and following periods, as is true for all musical eras. ... Center For Arabic Culture (CAC) == http://www. ... In the historically informed performance movement, musicians perform European classical music using restored or replica versions of the instruments for which it was originally written. ...


Harpsichord

Among keyboard instruments, the most dramatic disappearance was that of the harpsichord, which gradually went out of style during the second half of the 18th century. The piano became more popular by such a degree that harpsichords were destroyed; indeed the Paris Conservatory is notorious for using harpsichords for firewood during Napoleonic times and the French Revolution.[1] Composers such as François Couperin, Girolamo Frescobaldi, and Johann Sebastian Bach wrote for the harpsichord, clavichord, and organ but not the piano, which was invented ca. 1700 and only widely adopted by about 1765. The music of these composers sounds very different, and requires a different interpretive approach, when played on the harpsichord instead of the piano. Notably, since every note on a harpsichord is equally loud, subtle variations of timing and articulation, as well a judicious use of ornamentation, are employed to achieve an expressive harpsichord performance. Harpsichord in the Flemish style A harpsichord is any of a family of European keyboard instruments, including the large instrument currently called a harpsichord, but also the smaller virginals, the muselar virginals and the spinet. ... A short grand piano, with the top up. ... François Couperin (born Paris November 10, 1668 – September 12, 1733 in Paris) was an esteemed French composer in the Baroque style. ... Girolamo Frescobaldi (September, 1583 – March 1, 1643) was an Italian musician, one of the most important composers of keyboard music in the late Renaissance and early Baroque periods. ... Bach in a 1748 portrait by Haussmann Places in which Bach resided throughout his life Johann Sebastian Bach (pronounced ) (21 March 1685 O.S. – 28 July 1750 N.S.) was a prolific German composer and organist whose sacred and secular works for choir, orchestra and solo instruments drew together the... Large five-octave unfretted clavichord by Paul Maurici, after J.A. Haas The clavichord is a European stringed keyboard instrument known from the late Medieval, through the Renaissance, Baroque and Classical eras. ... An organ is the following: In anatomy, an organ is a group of tissues which perform some function. ... A short grand piano, with the top up. ... In music, ornaments are musical flourishes that are not necessary to the overall melodic (or harmonic) line, but serve to decorate or ornament that line. ...


The harpsichord was re-introduced to the concert-going public in the first half of the 20th century by Wanda Landowska. Since most useful knowledge of harpsichord construction had been lost by that time, Landowska needed to use a rather peculiar harpsichord, based on the modern grand piano, which was made for her by the Pleyel company of Paris. In the view of many later listeners, the tone of this harpsichord was not very successful.[citation needed] From the 1950s on, harpsichord builders such as Frank Hubbard, William Dowd, and Martin Skowroneck began to follow the procedures of the early harpsichord builders. Today, harpsichords in the style of the old makers are produced in workshops around the world. Wanda Landowska (July 5, 1879 – August 16, 1959), harpsichordist whose performances, teaching, recordings and writings played a large role in reviving the popularity of that instrument in the early 20th century. ... Ignace Joseph Pleyel Ignace Pleyel (June 18, 1757–November 14, 1831) was a French Austrian-born composer of the Classical period. ... This does not cite any references or sources. ... Frank Twombly Hubbard (15 May 1920 - 25 February 1976) was an American harpsichord maker, a pioneer in the revival of historical methods of harpsichord building. ... William Richmond Dowd (born 28 February 1922) is an American harpsichord maker. ...


Viol

The viols (also known as viola da gamba) are a family of bowed (and sometimes plucked) fretted stringed instruments which evolved from the Spanish plucked Vihuela in the late 15th century. The bass viol roughly resembles a six-stringed, fretted cello — but it is in fact a bowed-guitar (a bowed, fretted, lute tuned (44344), vihuela/viola guitar, a vihuela de arco). All viols were gut strung. Their voice is generally described as being more delicate, humming, and sweet, (compared to a cello, for example), noble and richly resonant in the lower registers, and often reedy (like an oboe or organ) in the upper range. Their reediness in tone can sometimes have in a certain nasal quality. Various sizes of viol, from Michael Praetorius Syntagma musicum (1618) Early Italian tenor viola da gamba, detail from the painting , by Raphael Sanzio, c. ... Various Viola da gamba The viol or viola da gamba family of musical instruments is related to the vihuela, rebec, etc. ... Orpheus playing a vihuela. ...


A vast quantity of music for viols, both ensemble and solo, was written by composers of the Renaissance and Baroque eras, including: Diego Ortiz, Claudio Monteverdi, William Byrd, William Lawes, Henry Purcell, Monsieur de Sainte-Colombe, J. S. Bach, Georg Philipp Telemann, Marin Marais, Antoine Forqueray, and Carl Frederick Abel. Renaissance music is European music written during the Renaissance, approximately 1400 to 1600. ... Baroque music describes an era and a set of styles of European classical music which were in widespread use between approximately 1600 and 1750 (see Dates of classical music eras for a discussion of the problems inherent in defining the beginning and end points). ... Diego Ortiz (ca. ... This article or section needs copy editing for grammar, style, cohesion, tone and/or spelling. ... William Byrd William Byrd (c. ... William Lawes (1602–1645) was an English composer and musician. ... Henry Purcell Henry Purcell (IPA: [1]; September 10 (?) [2], 1659–November 21, 1695), a Baroque composer, is generally considered to be one of Englands greatest composers. ... Monsieur de Sainte-Colombe (Born: 1640??, France, Died: 1690??, France) was a celebrated player of the viol. ... For other people named Bach and other meanings of the word, see Bach (disambiguation). ... Georg Philipp Telemann. ... Marin Marais Marin Marais (31 May 1656, Paris – 15 August 1728, Paris) was a pupil of Jean-Baptiste Lully and of the viol player Monsieur de Sainte-Colombe. ... Antoine Forqueray (c. ... Portrait of Carl Friedrich Abel by Thomas Gainsborough, 1777 Carl Friedrich Abel (December 22, 1723 – June 20, 1787) was a German composer of the Classical era. ...


Many composers wrote complex polyphonic part-music for viol consort, ensembles of viols of different sizes (typically held vertically), playing early chamber music, arranged for trio, quartet, quintet, sextet, and more. Chamber music is a form of classical music, written for a small group of instruments which traditionally could be accommodated in a palace chamber. ...


The viol family consists of these sized instruments, largest to smallest:

  • contrabass or Violone (about the size of a modern double bass)
  • bass viol (about the size of a cello)
  • tenor viol (about the size of a guitar)
  • alto viol (about the size of a viola)
  • treble or decant viol (about the size of a violin).

In England, slightly smaller specialized bass viols were developed, called division viols, and lyra-viols. The violone (literally large viol in Italian, -one being the suffix for large) is a musical instrument of the viol family. ... Side and front views of a modern double bass with a French bow. ... The violoncello, almost always abbreviated to cello, or cello (the c is pronounced as the ch in cheese), is a bowed stringed instrument,is not the lowest-sounding member of the violin family, the bass is. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... The viola (in French, alto; in German Bratsche) is a string instrument played with a bow. ... The violin is a bowed string instrument with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. ... From The Division-viol, an explanation and illustration of proper posture while playing the viol. ... Frontispiece from John Playfords Musicks recreation on the lyra viol The lyra viol is a small bass viol, used primarily in England in the seventeenth century. ...


Viols were largely abandoned by the end of the 18th century, being overtaken by the violin family. The Violin family of instruments was developed in Italy in the 17th Century. ...


Among the foremost modern players of the viols are: Paolo Pandolfo, Wieland Kuijken, Jordi Savall, John Hsu, Vittorio Ghielmi, and Guido Balestracci. There are many modern viol consorts (ensembles of violists) including Fretwork (music group). Paolo Pandolfo is an Italian virtuoso player, composer, and teacher of music for the viola da gamba. ... Jordi Savall i Bernadet (born 1941, in Igualada, Catalonia) is a Spanish viol player and composer. ... Vittorio Ghielmi is a viola da gamba player, born in 1968, in Milano, Italy. ... Fretwork is a consort of viols based in England, United Kingdom. ...


Recorder

The recorder is a wind instrument, made of wood. Its tone is similar to the flute, but it is played by blowing through the end, rather than by blowing across a soundhole. Like viols, recorders were made in multiple sizes (contra-bass, bass, tenor, alto, soprano, the tiny sopranino and the even smaller kleine sopranino or garklein). Handel and Telemann wrote solo sonatas for the recorder, and recorders were often played in consorts of mixed size, like viols. For a number of important modern exponents of the recorder, see Recorder player. Various recorders The recorder is a woodwind musical instrument of the family known as fipple flutes or internal duct flutes — whistle-like instruments which include the tin whistle and ocarina. ... George Frideric Handel, 1733 George Frideric Handel (23 February 1685 – 14 April 1759) was a German-born British Baroque composer who was a leading composer of concerti grossi, operas and oratorios. ... Georg Philipp Telemann. ... A recorder player is a musician who plays the recorder, a flute-like woodwind musical instrument. ...


Other instruments

Other instruments that ceased to be used around the same time as the harpsichord, viol, and recorder include the lute, the viola d'amore, and the baryton. Instruments that lost currency rather earlier in musical history include the cornett, the shawm, the rackett, the krummhorn, the theorbo, and the hurdy-gurdy. A medieval era lute. ... Viola dAmore from the mid eighteenth century (Library of Congress collection) The viola damore (Italian: love viol) is a 7- or 6-stringed musical instrument with sympathetic strings used chiefly in the baroque period. ... A drawing of a baryton from 1880 The baryton is an obsolete bowed stringed instrument, in regular use up until the end of the 18th century. ... Three different cornetts: mute cornett, curved cornett and tenor cornett The cornett, cornetto or zink is an early wind instrument, dating from the Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque periods. ... The shawm was a Renaissance musical instrument of the woodwind family, made in Europe from the late 13th century until the 17th century. ... The Renaissance Rackett is a double-reed Wind instrument related to the Bassoon. ... various Crumhorns The crumhorn is a musical instrument of the woodwind family. ... Theorbo A theorbo (from Italian tiorba, also tuorbe in French, Theorbe in German) is a plucked string instrument. ... This article is about the musical instrument. ...


Developed instruments

Even the instruments on which classical music is ordinarily performed today have undergone many changes since the 18th century, both in how they are constructed and how they are played.


Stringed instruments (the violin, viola, cello, and double bass) were made with progressively longer necks and higher bridges, increasing string length and tension — though the latter has varied a lot depending on string thicknesses. The most prized stringed instruments of today, made by Antonio Stradivari and by the Guarneri family in 17th-18th century Italy, started out their careers as "early instruments". They were modified in the 19th century to achieve the more powerful romantic sound. (See baroque violin) The violin is a bowed string instrument with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. ... The viola (in French, alto; in German Bratsche) is a string instrument played with a bow. ... The violoncello, almost always abbreviated to cello, or cello (the c is pronounced as the ch in cheese), is a bowed stringed instrument,is not the lowest-sounding member of the violin family, the bass is. ... Side and front views of a modern double bass with a French bow. ... Antonio Stradivari examining an instrument, in a Romantic 19th-century print. ... Guarneri is the family name of a group of highly acclaimed violin makers (luthiers) from Cremona in Italy in the 17th and 18th centuries, whose standing is considered comparable to those of the Amati and Stradivari families. ... A Baroque violin is, in common usage, any violin whose neck, fingerboard, bridge, and tailpiece are of the type used during the baroque period. ...


From the heavy rigging of the early to mid 1800s, however, the tendency shifted to using lighter strings for an easier playing technique and more soloistic brilliance. From around 1900 until our times, the average string tension has been lighter than in most Baroque traditions except for 18th century France, but the longer strings and the more compact material (including, in our days, steel E strings) has led to a more brilliant and short-range penetrating tone with a greater acoustical emphasis on the even overtones. Beginning of the Napoleonic Wars (1805 - 1815). ... Year 1900 (MCM) was an exceptional common year starting on Monday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar, but a leap year starting on Saturday of the Julian calendar. ... An overtone is a sinusoidal component of a waveform, of greater frequency than its fundamental frequency. ...


In modern string playing, a more or less constant vibrato is the norm, with lack of vibrato used as a special expressive effect. In the 18th century, it was just the opposite, with vibrato serving as an ornament. Vibrato is a musical effect where the pitch or frequency of a note or sound is quickly and repeatedly raised and lowered over a small distance for the duration of that note or sound. ...


The oboe likewise became more powerful in its sound. The baroque oboe was more pastoral or reedy in tone while the Classical oboe, which came to the fore c. 1780, was more silvery. A similar difference is found between the early and modern bassoon. The oboe is a double reed musical instrument of the woodwind family. ... The bassoon is a woodwind instrument in the double reed family that typically plays music written in the bass and tenor registers and occasionally even higher. ...


The flute of the 18th century was typically made of wood rather than metal, and likewise had a gentler but more woody tone. The flute is a musical instrument of the woodwind family. ...


Early brass instruments were less powerful, but more colorful (containing more overtones) than their modern equivalents. The tonal difference is perhaps less than is found among the woodwinds and strings. However, the playing of early trumpets and horns was very different and indeed much more difficult, since versions of these instruments incorporating keys or valves were only invented around the end of the 18th century. The players of the earlier type of instrument had to use mostly just lip control to determine pitch; the early horns also had their pitch altered by the placement of the player's hand in the bell. Anthony Halstead is widely considered to be among the finest modern exponents of the "natural horn".[citation needed] The earlier trombone of course offered manual pitch control, as did its similar predecessor the sackbut. An overtone is a sinusoidal component of a waveform, of greater frequency than its fundamental frequency. ... The trumpet is the highest brass instrument in register, above the French horn, trombone, baritone, euphonium, and tuba. ... The horn (popularly known also as the French horn) is a brass instrument decended from the natural horn that consists of tubing wrapped into a coiled form. ... Anthony Halstead, as shown on back cover of the CD Mozart: Horn Concertos and E Major Fragment, with Hanover Band directed by Roy Goodman (Nimbus Records NI 5104). ... The trombone is a musical instrument in the brass family. ... Four sackbutts: bass, alto, tenor, bass The Sackbut (var. ...


The effect of these instruments in their original form is particularly noticeable when they play together in orchestras, since not only do the musical lines sound different, but their relationship to one another is altered by the difference in relative volume (wind instruments generally being louder relative to the strings). A number of historically informed performance orchestras have achieved a broad following. This article does not cite any references or sources. ...


For the piano, the difference between 18th century and modern versions is probably greater than for any other instrument; for discussion of these differences and their consequences for performance, see Piano history and musical performance. The construction of replica 18th century pianos came somewhat after the revival of the baroque harpsichord, but used many of the same skills, since early pianos resembled harpsichords in their construction. Leading modern-day performers on the early piano or fortepiano include Malcolm Bilson, Robert Levin, and Melvyn Tan. A short grand piano, with the top up. ... The piano has evolved technologically more than any other musical instrument, giving rise to difficult issues involving the performance of music written for earlier pianos. ... Fortepiano designates the early version of the piano, as it existed from its invention by Cristofori around 1700 up to the early 19th century. ... Malcolm Bilson is a pianist specializing in performance on the fortepiano, which is the 18th century version of the piano. ... Robert D. Levin (b. ...


Singing

The human voice is a biological given, but can be trained in different ways. Singers in historically informed performances typically aim at a less loud tone, usually with less vibrato. It is feasible for the singer not to sing so loud, since the instruments playing at the same time are softer. Listeners to early music seldom complain that the singers are "shrieking" or "barking"–[citation needed] though of course this does not exclude the possibility that quite different vocal problems might be present. A few of the singers who have contributed to the historically informed performance movement are Emma Kirkby, Julianne Baird, Nigel Rogers, and David Thomas. This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Julianne Baird (born December 10, 1952 in Statesville, North Carolina) is an American soprano best known for her singing in Baroque works, in both opera and sacred music. ... Nigel David Rogers was born on 12th March 1935 in Wellington, Shropshire, England. ... Bass David Thomas is a well known early music / baroque music singer, who has won particular acclaim for his performances of works by Monteverdi, Purcell, Bach, Händel, and Mozart. ...


Historically informed performances sometimes use male singers, called countertenors, to sing alto parts. Although it is often a vexed question how often this was done in early performance, a number of countertenors have won acclaim for their purity of tone, vocal agility, and interpretive skill. Modern countertenor singing was pioneered by Alfred Deller, and leading contemporary performers include David Daniels, Derek Lee Ragin, Andreas Scholl, Michael Chance, Drew Minter, Daniel Taylor, and Brian Asawa. A countertenor is an adult male who sings in an alto or soprano range, often through use of falsetto. ... Alfred Deller (31 May 1912 – 16 July 1979) was an English singer, one of the main figures in popularising the use of the countertenor voice in renaissance and baroque music. ... David Daniels as Nerone in Monteverdis LIncoronazione di Poppea The American singer David Daniels (born 12 March 1966) is one of the best-known and highly regarded countertenors in modern operatic history. ... Derek Lee Ragin (June 17, 1958) is an American countertenor. ... This article needs to be wikified. ... Michael Chance (b. ... Daniel Taylor (born January 9, 1887, Durban, Natal, died January 24, 1957, Durban]], Natal) was a South African cricketer who played in 2 Tests in 1914 Categories: | | | | ... Brian Asawa as Oberon in Brittens Midsummer Nights Dream at SF Opera Japanese American countertenor Brian Asawa (born 1966) studied music at UC Santa Cruz, UCLA and the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. ...


Compositions intended to be sung by castrati present a problem. Modern substitutions employ female sopranos or high countertenors (known as sopranistas), but neither of those seems to capture the true effect of the castrato sound.[citation needed] The 1994 movie Farinelli Il Castrato, about an 18th-century castrato, used digital effects to create the voice by mixing the sound of a countertenor with a soprano singer. A castrato is a male soprano, mezzo_soprano, or alto voice produced by castration of the singer before puberty. ... A sopranist is a male singer who sings in the soprano vocal range. ... Farinelli Il Castrato is a 1994 Columbia/Tristar Studios movie about the real life singer Farinelli, starring Stefano Dionisi as the title character as an adult and providing the speaking voice. ...


The use of boy sopranos, or trebles, in certain music (for example the church music of Johann Sebastian Bach), while historically authentic, is not often done because of the belief that boys cannot put the emotional understanding into the music that adult female sopranos do.[citation needed] Voices broke at a later age in the 18th century, so boys as old as 16 or 17 could sometimes still sing soprano parts. Boy sopranos in choirs are not uncommon, even in traditional performances, but the use of boy sopranos as soloists is rare. Most notably, much of the music of Bach that Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Gustav Leonhardt recorded made use of boy sopranos even for the solo parts. Boy soprano (or treble in British English; see below) is a term applied in music to a young male singer with an unchanged voice in the soprano range. ... Bach in a 1748 portrait by Haussmann Places in which Bach resided throughout his life Johann Sebastian Bach (pronounced ) (21 March 1685 O.S. – 28 July 1750 N.S.) was a prolific German composer and organist whose sacred and secular works for choir, orchestra and solo instruments drew together the... Nikolaus Harnoncourt (born December 6, 1929) is an Austrian conductor, known for his historically accurate performances of music from the classical era and earlier. ... Gustav Leonhardt (born May 30, 1928) is a Dutch harpsichordist, organist and conductor. ...


Recovering early performance practices

Both pedagogical works and the correspondence of musicians from past centuries play an important role in recovering information about early performance practice. Representative of the works from which valuable information has been obtained are the following:

  • Syntagma musicum (1614-1620) by Michael Praetorius
  • Traité de l'Harmonie Universelle (1627) by Marin Mersenne
  • Versuch einer Anweisung die Flöte traversiere zu spielen ("A treatise of instruction in playing the transverse flute," 1752) by Johann Joachim Quantz
  • Versuch über das wahre Art das Klavier zu spielen ("An essay on the true art of playing keyboard instruments," 1753-1762) by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach.
  • Versuch einer grundliche Violinschule ("An essay on the fundamental principles of violin playing," 1756) by Leopold Mozart

Among the letters of musicians, those of Mozart are notable for their liveliness and insight, and from them considerable information about performances of his work is obtained. In the case of Haydn and Beethoven we have the advantage that they became very famous–in fact, venerated–in their own lifetimes, and many people with whom they conversed attempted to remember and write down their words. Michael Praetorius. ... Marin Mersenne, Marin Mersennus or le Père Mersenne (September 8, 1588 – September 1, 1648) was a French theologian, philosopher, mathematician and music theorist. ... Johann Joachim Quantz (January 30, 1697–July 12, 1773) was a German flutist, flute maker and composer. ... Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (March 8, 1714 – December 14, 1788) was a German musician and composer, the second of five sons of Johann Sebastian Bach and Maria Barbara Bach. ... Leopold Mozart Johann Georg Leopold Mozart (November 14, 1719 – May 28, 1787) was a composer, music teacher and violinist. ... Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (IPA: , baptized Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart) (January 27, 1756 – December 5, 1791) was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. ... Portrait by Thomas Hardy, 1792 Franz Joseph Haydn[1] (March 31, 1732 – May 31, 1809) was one of the most prominent composers of the Classical period, and is called by some the Father of the Symphony and Father of the String Quartet. A life-long resident of Austria, Haydn spent... A portrait by Joseph Karl Stieler, 1820 Ludwig van Beethoven (IPA: ), (baptized December 17, 1770[1] – March 26, 1827) was a German composer. ...


Some documents suggest that contemporary performances of early orchestral music were of lower quality than might be expected. For example, a letter from Haydn (Oct. 17, 1789) says:

Now I would humbly ask you to tell the princely Kapellmeister there that these three symphonies [ 90-92 ] because of their many particular effects, should be rehearsed at least once, carefully and with special concentration, before they are performed.[citation needed]

implying of course that symphonies were often performed with no rehearsal at all. Likewise, there is testimony that the task of keeping early instruments in tune was difficult and perhaps also neglected. One critic wrote in 1684: A Kapellmeister is nowadays the director or conductor of an orchestra or choir. ... There are 104 symphonies by the Classical composer Joseph Haydn on which numbers are now generally agreed upon. ...

At the beginning of the concerts, we observe the accuracy of the chords ... some time after, the instruments make a din; the music is for our ears no longer anything but a confused noise.[citation needed]

Interpreting musical notation

One area in which scholarly interpretation is important is in interpreting the musical notation of the past, which becomes progressively less explicit as one goes back in time. Some familiar difficult items are as follows:

  • Early composers apparently often wrote dotted rhythms (where the first of two notes is three times the length of the second) to mean instead a time ratio of 2 + 1, in a context where triplets are present elsewhere in the musical line. The opening line of the last movement of J. S. Bach's Brandenburg Concerto #5 is a good example.
  • In a French overture, it is often held that dotted notation was meant to indicate double dotting; that is, a duration ratio of 7 to 1 instead of 3 to 1. A well-known example is the overture to Handel's Messiah, often played in the double-dotted manner by historically informed performance specialists.
  • What is written as an appoggiatura is often meant to be longer or shorter than the notated length. This convention is pervasive in Mozart's music.
  • In Renaissance music, musica ficta are employed; these are accidentals (sharps and flats) not written in the score, but rather inferred using the performer's judgment or via rules laid down by theorists.
  • Lastly, the notes of earlier music cannot generally be interpreted as designating the same pitch that they do today, since concert pitch has frequently changed. For discussion, see History of pitch standards in Western music.

In music, a dotted note is a note that is 1 1/2 times the main note of the same kind. ... In music a tuplet is a note value whose relationship with the next larger note value is more or less than (not equal to) half as long as the next higher note value, usually indicated with a horizontal (or nearly horizontal) bracket with a number. ... For other people named Bach and other meanings of the word, see Bach (disambiguation). ... The six Brandenburg concertos (BWV 1046-1051) by Johann Sebastian Bach are a collection of instrumental works presented by Bach to the Margrave of Brandenburg in 1721, but probably composed earlier. ... The French overture is a musical form widely used in the Baroque period. ... In music, a double-dotted note is a note that is 1 3/4 times the main note of the same kind. ... HANDEL was the code-name for the UKs National Attack Warning System in the Cold War. ... Messiah (HWV 56), is an oratorio by George Frideric Handel based on a libretto by Charles Jennens. ... Baroque music describes an era and a set of styles of European classical music which were in widespread use between approximately 1600 and 1750 (see Dates of classical music eras for a discussion of the problems inherent in defining the beginning and end points). ... In music, a dotted note is a note that is 1 1/2 times the main note of the same kind. ... In music a tuplet is a note value whose relationship with the next larger note value is more or less than (not equal to) half as long as the next higher note value, usually indicated with a horizontal (or nearly horizontal) bracket with a number. ... In music, notes inégales (French: unequal notes) refers to a performance practice, mainly from the Baroque and Classical music eras, in which notes with equal written time values are performed with unequal durations, usually as alternating long and short. ... In music, a swung note or shuffle note is the rhythmic device in which the duration of the initial note in a pair is augmented and that of the second is diminished. ... Jazz is a musical art form that originated in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States around the start of the 20th century. ... In music, ornaments are musical flourishes that are not necessary to the overall melodic (or harmonic) line, but serve to decorate or ornament that line. ... Renaissance music is European music written during the Renaissance, approximately 1400 to 1600. ... In European music prior to about 1600, musica ficta (from Latin, false or feigned music) referred to chromatically altered pitches, not notated in the music, which were to be supplied by singers. ... An accidental is a musical notation symbol used to raise or lower the pitch of a note from that indicated by the key signature. ... Pitch is the perceived fundamental frequency of a sound. ...

Mechanical music

Some information about how music sounded in the past can be obtained from contemporary mechanical instruments. For instance, the Dutch museum Van Speelklok tot Pierement owns an 18th century mechanical organ of which the music programme was composed and supervised by Joseph Haydn. The Nationaal Museum van Speelklok tot Pierement is a museum in Utrecht, The Netherlands. ... Portrait by Thomas Hardy, 1792 Franz Joseph Haydn[1] (March 31, 1732 – May 31, 1809) was one of the most prominent composers of the Classical period, and is called by some the Father of the Symphony and Father of the String Quartet. A life-long resident of Austria, Haydn spent...


Linguistic issues

An additional relevant area of scholarship is the determination of how the languages of sung music were pronounced at the time of first performance. Such information can help in establishing rhymes and in aligning the syllables to the musical notes (underlay). The disciplines of historical linguistics and philology play the primary role here. Some early music performers prefer to sing using the old pronunciations, feeling that the notes sound better when sung to their original syllables.[citation needed] Historical linguistics (also diachronic linguistics or comparative linguistics) is primarily the study of the ways in which languages change over time. ... Philology is the study of ancient texts and languages. ...


Issues of pronunciation even carry over to church Latin, the language in which a huge amount of early music was written. The reason is that Latin was customarily pronounced using the speech sounds and patterns of the local vernacular language; see Latin regional pronunciation. Latin is an ancient Indo-European language originally spoken in Latium, the region immediately surrounding Rome. ... Latin pronunciation both in the classical and post-classical age, has varied across in different regions and different eras. ...


Tuning

Twelve tone equal temperament is the predominant tuning today, but was not so in the past. For many periods tuning may have depended upon region, varied by composer, with some composers even preferring different tunings at different times in their lives. However, it is often hard to determine exactly what these tunings were. An equal temperament is a musical temperament -- that is, a system of tuning intended to approximate some form of just intonation -- in which an interval, usually the octave, is divided into a series of equal steps (equal frequency ratios). ...


Historically informed performances of Baroque music are usually in "chamber pitch" (tuned about a semitone down compared to modern concert pitch; see historical pitch standards). Pitch is the perceived fundamental frequency of a sound. ...


Issues in historically informed performance

The perceived esthetic benefits of historically informed performance vary with what kind of music is being played. In rough terms, they can be characterized as follows.

  • Historically informed performance is argued to achieve greater transparency of musical texture. The instruments have a less overpowering tone, so that the playing of one note interferes less with the hearing of simultaneous or neighboring notes.[citation needed]
  • In orchestral performances, dynamic contrast is typically increased: the contributions of the brass instruments and timpani on accented notes stand out more, since the difference in volume level between brass and strings is somewhat greater than with modern instruments.[citation needed]
  • Greater transparency and greater dynamic contrast lend themselves, in turn, to greater rhythmic energy.[citation needed] This is particularly important in the choruses of 18th century cantatas and oratorios. To the ear that has become attuned to historically informed performance, older "mainstream" performances of such works often sound heavy and rhythmically dull.[citation needed] Paradoxically, for such listeners, the monumental character of these choruses comes through more clearly when they are performed with the lighter forces of the authentic performance movement.[citation needed]
  • Many listeners appreciate the sheer sound quality of authentic instruments, finding it more beautiful and filled with character than what is heard from modern instruments.[citation needed] The same could be said of the human voice, when it is not required to compete with modern instruments in volume.[citation needed]

A cantata (Italian, sung) is a vocal composition with an instrumental accompaniment and generally containing more than one movement. ... An oratorio is a large musical composition for orchestra, vocal soloists and chorus. ...

Variety of opinion

Opinions on the historically informed performance movement vary widely, from very strong support to very strong opposition.


A generally skeptical but moderated position has been taken by Charles Rosen, a distinguished traditional classical musician and author on music. One criticism Rosen has made is that the spread of the historically informed performance movement has depended very heavily on the recording industry. This results from two factors. First, the lower volume of authentic performance instruments means they tend to be ineffective in large modern concert halls, so that live performance is difficult to sustain financially. Second, the unstable intonation and lesser reliability of early instruments means that a high-quality performance is most easily obtained in the recording studio, where multiple takes can be spliced together to iron out mistakes, and it is possible to interrupt the music frequently to retune the instruments. A musical culture based predominantly on recordings is arguably an impoverished one, given that most listeners respond more intensely to a live performance than to a recording. Charles Rosen (born May 5, 1927) is an American pianist and music theorist. ... The record industry (or recording industry) is the industry that manufactures and distributes mechanical recordings of music. ... A recording studio is a facility for sound recording. ...


There are many listeners who enjoy both historically informed performances and traditional performances. Such esthetically-flexible listeners might, for instance, enjoy Malcolm Bilson's vivid and stylish authentic performances of Haydn's piano sonatas on a replica 18th century piano, but also enjoy Vladimir Horowitz's interestingly idiosyncratic (and quite heavily pedaled) performances of the same works on a modern concert grand.[citation needed] Malcolm Bilson is a pianist specializing in performance on the fortepiano, which is the 18th century version of the piano. ... Portrait by Thomas Hardy, 1792 Franz Joseph Haydn[1] (March 31, 1732 – May 31, 1809) was one of the most prominent composers of the Classical period, and is called by some the Father of the Symphony and Father of the String Quartet. A life-long resident of Austria, Haydn spent... Vladimir Samoylovych Horowitz (Ukrainian: ; Russian: ) (1 October 1903 – 5 November 1989) was a Ukrainian-born, American classical pianist. ...


See also

Early music is commonly defined as European classical music from the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and the Baroque. ... An early music ensemble is one that specializes in performing music of the European classical tradition from the Baroque era and before, i. ... In the historically informed performance movement, musicians perform European classical music using restored or replica versions of the instruments for which it was originally written. ...

References

  1. ^ http://www.usc.edu/uscnews/stories/10982.html
  • Three Centuries of Harpsichord Making by Frank Hubbard (1965; Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press ISBN 0-674-88845-6) is a classic tale of scholarly detective work, both with old instruments and old written sources, that led to the rediscovery of how the old harpsichords were built.
  • Charles Rosen's discussion of historically informed performance may be found in Chapter 12 of his book Critical Entertainments (2000; Cambridge: Harvard University Press; ISBN 0-674-00684-4). This chapter contains the full version of the quotation above concerning tuning, which is from the French critic Charles de Saint-Evremond.
  • The quotation above from Joseph Haydn about the necessity of at least one rehearsal is taken from p. 145 of Rosen's book The Classical Style (2nd ed., 1997; New York: Norton; ISBN 0-393-31712-9).
  • Daniel Leech-Wilkinson (1997). "The good, the bad and the boring", Companion to Medieval & Renaissance Music. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-816540-4.
  • Arnold Dolmetsch, The Interpretation of the Music of the 17th and 18th Centuries Revealed by Contemporary Evidence, London: Novello, 1915.

Charles Rosen (born May 5, 1927) is an American pianist and music theorist. ... Charles de Marguetel de Saint-Denis, seigneur de Saint- vremond (April 1, 1610 - September 29, 1703), was born at Saint-Denis-le-Guast, near Coutances, the seat of his family in Normandy. ... (Eugène) Arnold Dolmetsch (24 February 1858 - 28 February 1940), was a French-born musician and instrument maker who spent much of his working life in England and established an instrument-making workshop in Haslemere, Surrey. ...

External links



  Results from FactBites:
 
What is Early Music? (2997 words)
Beyond historical technique, which remained under study with examples from these eras in a fairly continuous way in academia, and with which many prominent composers were associated at one time or another, there were some notable revivals prior to the decisive one which has defined the Early Music Movement as such.
Although the label "historically informed performance" seems fairly neutral and seductive, in the sense that one can hardly vilify gaining information, there are also strong implications regarding how informed one must be and how that information must be used.
Performance histories have frequently reflected ideas such as "progress" and "evolution" and consequently an underlying implication that scoring and interpretation should be updated to reflect contemporary concerns and possibilities.
Totally Hip (458 words)
It was among the first ensembles to specialize in the performance of baroque music on period instruments.
The combination of an historically informed approach and exceptionally high standards of performance have made The Academy of Ancient Music one of the world's leading chamber orchestras and ultimate authorities on HIP.
What a HIP offers audiences is a chance to hear Baroque and Classical works using the instruments and performing forces available to the composer.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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