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Old 08-09-2017, 03:31 AM   #1
NickMDal
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8th symphony beat

Hi. I'd really appreciate some help making sense of the opening measures of the 2nd movement. Happy to have a nephew with a new interest in Beethoven, so I'm really inspired to dig in. I've only taken very basic musical classes ages ago, and I don't play.

In the opening two measures, there look to be dotted 1/16 notes. Doesn't that make their durations each 3/32? How do 8 dotted 16ths (and an added single violin note) fit into a single 2/4 measure?

In the 7th and 8th measures, the notes are undotted, with an added cello dotted 16th. To me the rhythms sound alike, at least to my ears listening to Bruno Walter/CSO. What do the dots do and how do the notes fit in the measures?

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Old 08-09-2017, 07:33 AM   #2
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Welcome to the forum NickMDal - I think you are confusing your dots! The dots above (or under) notes are staccato (detached notes) and actually this does continue over the measures you refer to (7 and 8) as Beethoven marks sempre staccato which means always staccato. It's only when a dot comes after a note that it increases its value.
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Old 08-10-2017, 01:34 AM   #3
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My dots were definitely confused. I thought the regular dots just didn't fit alongside Thanks much for explaining. Oh... just got your point, sempre!

Is it okay to throw in another question here about the same piece? I ran a metronome app while listening to the Bruno Walter version of this movement. The score looks to suggest or require quarter notes at 88 BPM. The recording and metronome stayed in perfect time till about the 10th bar. It was 78, varying from around 76 to 82. This seems like a big difference from 88.

Is this just the Bruno's interpretation? At least to my ear it sounds so ideal. Do you think LVB would consider this a transgression?

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Old 08-10-2017, 07:15 AM   #4
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There has always been controversy around Beethoven's metronome markings and it wasn't until more recently that they were taken more literally by some conductors, especially John Eliot Gardiner.
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Old 08-10-2017, 08:35 PM   #5
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Thanks, how interesting! I just listened to the Gardner version https://youtu.be/lnYCGF4I5vc?t=8m35s

To me, the faster tempo kind of works in the second movement. It's still enjoyable, but it feels like being rushed through an art gallery.

I lose quite a bit of the emotional connection to the gorgeous crescendo in the first movement - that starts at about 4:15. My emotions drag a few beats behind the musicians so that I don't feel it nearly as much.

BW/CSO recordings surely would have benefited from being sped up at places. Any idea why Beethoven set such a zippy tempo?
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Old 08-11-2017, 12:29 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by NickMDal View Post
Thanks, how interesting! I just listened to the Gardner version https://youtu.be/lnYCGF4I5vc?t=8m35s

To me, the faster tempo kind of works in the second movement. It's still enjoyable, but it feels like being rushed through an art gallery.

I lose quite a bit of the emotional connection to the gorgeous crescendo in the first movement - that starts at about 4:15. My emotions drag a few beats behind the musicians so that I don't feel it nearly as much.

BW/CSO recordings surely would have benefited from being sped up at places. Any idea why Beethoven set such a zippy tempo?
"Mathematic and musical detectives have discovered that perhaps Beethovenís tempo was so strange because his metronome was broken."
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-...swXimip8o6Y.99
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Old 08-11-2017, 03:57 AM   #7
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Wow that makes me so happy!!! Thank you
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Old 08-11-2017, 02:48 PM   #8
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I thought the broken metronome theory had been more or less abandoned?
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Old 08-11-2017, 05:31 PM   #9
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And isn't there another theory that, by the time the metronome was invented, Beethoven, owing to his deafness, "heard" his music mostly in his head?
This, according to some experts, would lead him to experience the music as being much faster than in real life, thus causing him to settle on some impossibly fast metronome settings
Of course all this could be balderdash.
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Old 08-12-2017, 07:25 AM   #10
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And isn't there another theory that, by the time the metronome was invented, Beethoven, owing to his deafness, "heard" his music mostly in his head?
This, according to some experts, would lead him to experience the music as being much faster than in real life, thus causing him to settle on some impossibly fast metronome settings
Of course all this could be balderdash.
Many great composers 'hear' the music in their head and only resort to the piano to try things over, so this would be nothing to do with his deafness. Berlioz considered composing at the piano the death of all originality - Stravinsky on the other hand always worked from the piano! It has however been demonstrated with some composers that they do actually 'hear' their music in the head faster than they play it so there may be something in this - however we know tempo was of great importance to Beethoven and I imagine he would have taken a great deal more care over the matter.

I'm not sure how we can account for Beethoven's metronome markings but here is an interesting article by Benjamin Zander.
http://benjaminzander.com/recordings...et9/review/130
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Old 08-27-2017, 06:54 AM   #11
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This is really a nice thread. Glad to have read it. This is, among Beethoven's symphonies, that prefered by the forum creator, if I do not remember wrong. For me, it is one of the most dynamic he wrote, taking appart the third 1s movement and the fifth 1st movement too. And the nice, soft way the first movement ends, is as an exception for a 1st movement coda, I believe among well known composers

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Old 08-27-2017, 07:47 AM   #12
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This is really a nice thread. Glad to have read it. This is, among Beethoven's symphonies, that prefered by the forum creator, if I do not remember wrong. For me, it is one of the most dynamic he wrote, taking appart the third 1s movement and the fifth 1st movement too. And the nice, soft way the first movement ends, is as an exception for a 1st movement coda, I believe among well known composers
Yes this soft ending of the 1st movt was quite original, but there are later examples - the first 3 of Brahms' symphonies have a soft ending to the first movt. I can't think off hand of earlier examples but for the last movement Haydn has soft endings for only two of his symphonies, 'La Chasse' and 'the Farewell'.
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Old 08-27-2017, 08:21 AM   #13
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Yes this soft ending of the 1st movt was quite original, but there are later examples - the first 3 of Brahms' symphonies have a soft ending to the first movt. I can't think off hand of earlier examples but for the last movement Haydn has soft endings for only two of his symphonies, 'La Chasse' and 'the Farewell'.
There is always a predecessor, it seems. Well then Tchaikowsky with his 6th was a plagiarizing Haydn, I'd never have thought. I can well remember that, in the case of Brahms' 3rd, ending almost just as it begins. And in the 1st, those F-Ab, F-Ab, F-Ab, E are superb, if the literary language could do justice to music, which it never could.
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Old 08-27-2017, 08:40 AM   #14
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There is always a predecessor, it seems. Well then Tchaikowsky with his 6th was a plagiarizing Haydn, I'd never have thought. I can well remember that, in the case of Brahms' 3rd, ending almost just as it begins. And in the 1st, those F-Ab, F-Ab, F-Ab, E are superb, if the literary language could do justice to music, which it never could.
I wouldn't say Tchaikovsky was plagiarizing Haydn, after all composers learn from other composers - in any case I doubt very much that he was influenced by Haydn's two examples when composing the 6th. With the Brahms 3rd, yes it ends as it begins (but softly) just like the Beethoven 8th first movt.
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Old 08-27-2017, 10:33 PM   #15
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This is really a nice thread. Glad to have read it. This is, among Beethoven's symphonies, that preferred by the forum creator, if I do not remember wrong. For me, it is one of the most dynamic he wrote, taking apart the third 1s movement and the fifth 1st movement too. And the nice, soft way the first movement ends, is as an exception for a 1st movement coda, I believe among well known composers
Hello Enrique, nice to see you here.
As Peter says above, there are later examples of the great composers ending their 1st movement codas in a soft manner.
Bruckner is such an example - in his first version of the 8th symphony he ends in the usual blazing glory ... then in the 2nd version he ends softly.
Which do you prefer?

1st version (blazing glory ending to the coda): https://youtu.be/_kS_qrQb_mY?t=835

2nd version (soft ending to the coda): https://youtu.be/95r6c9Cv16Y?t=842

Last edited by Quijote; 08-27-2017 at 10:38 PM.
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Old 08-28-2017, 02:53 AM   #16
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Hello Enrique, nice to see you here.
As Peter says above are later examples of the great composers ending their 1st movement codas in a soft manner.
Bruckner is such an example - in his first version of the 8th symphony he ends in the usual blazing glory ... then in the 2nd version he ends softly.
Which do you prefer?

1st version (blazing glory ending to the coda): https://youtu.be/_kS_qrQb_mY?t=835

2nd version (soft ending to the coda): https://youtu.be/95r6c9Cv16Y?t=842
Well, I think it's an unfair question Philip. I should first listen to the entire movement, at least, to be in a condition to feel whatever I can be supposed to feel. I sometimes after having listened to some passage where there is a climax, say: I'll tell the boys to listen from, say, 34:30. But then I see it could never produce the effect I suppose it is going to produce if that person has not been prepared, by the composer himself, for that extraordinary moment.

Humm... I think I like speaking a lot. All of a sudden the temptation is too great. I'll tell you later.
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Old 08-28-2017, 07:22 AM   #17
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Hello Enrique, nice to see you here.
As Peter says above, there are later examples of the great composers ending their 1st movement codas in a soft manner.
Bruckner is such an example - in his first version of the 8th symphony he ends in the usual blazing glory ... then in the 2nd version he ends softly.
Which do you prefer?

1st version (blazing glory ending to the coda): https://youtu.be/_kS_qrQb_mY?t=835

2nd version (soft ending to the coda): https://youtu.be/95r6c9Cv16Y?t=842
Thanks for that - very interesting as I'm not familiar with the first version but I'll have to listen properly to the whole thing when I've more time to form an opinion.
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Old 08-30-2017, 10:50 PM   #18
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Well, I think it's an unfair question Philip. I should first listen to the entire movement, at least, to be in a condition to feel whatever I can be supposed to feel. I sometimes after having listened to some passage where there is a climax, say: I'll tell the boys to listen from, say, 34:30. But then I see it could never produce the effect I suppose it is going to produce if that person has not been prepared, by the composer himself, for that extraordinary moment...
Yes, you're quite right, posting a short passage out of context is hardly going to convince anyone either way!
Anyway, now that you've had a chance to hear both versions of the 1st movement, which one would you opt for?
For me, the second version, those soft "dying" cellos and basses in the last bars are magical.
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Old 08-30-2017, 11:11 PM   #19
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Many great composers 'hear' the music in their head and only resort to the piano to try things over, so this would be nothing to do with his deafness. Berlioz considered composing at the piano the death of all originality - Stravinsky on the other hand always worked from the piano! It has however been demonstrated with some composers that they do actually 'hear' their music in the head faster than they play it so there may be something in this - however we know tempo was of great importance to Beethoven and I imagine he would have taken a great deal more care over the matter.
Yes, I've read that too, and I think it's not only composers who perhaps do that. What I mean is, if you take a piece that you know well (and have played it yourself), when you read through the score away from your instrument don't you find that the time it takes to "play it through in your head" differs (faster or slower) than when you physically play it? It's almost as if the virtual, "in your head" tempo works perfectly well whatever the real "physical" tempo is supposed to be.
But regarding whether composers compose at the piano or on manuscript only, you remember that Beethoven's advice to his student Archduke Rudolf was that he should combine both approaches.
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Old 08-30-2017, 11:22 PM   #20
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The above is a point I'd like to develop (in a cursory way) on the thread launched by poster Yolhanson called "Beethoven's 9th, I get it now" ...
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Old 08-31-2017, 12:54 PM   #21
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Yes, I've read that too, and I think it's not only composers who perhaps do that. What I mean is, if you take a piece that you know well (and have played it yourself), when you read through the score away from your instrument don't you find that the time it takes to "play it through in your head" differs (faster or slower) than when you physically play it? It's almost as if the virtual, "in your head" tempo works perfectly well whatever the real "physical" tempo is supposed to be.
But regarding whether composers compose at the piano or on manuscript only, you remember that Beethoven's advice to his student Archduke Rudolf was that he should combine both approaches.
This has brought back a memory of a fascinating interview with a famous conductor (I can't remember who it was - possibly Karajan) but he was discussing the subject of mental listening (if there's such a term).

He might be having breakfast and a piece of music would come into his head. (Let's say Beethoven's 9th as we're on that subject). He would run through some of the opening section in his mind and then forget about it as he attended to other non-musical chores.

About half an hour later or so, the music would come back into his mind and he was always astounded to find that when it resumed, it had reached the point where the actual piece would have reached in real time. In other words, the music seemed to have been going on in his subconscious while he forgot about it. (I think he tested it one time and his brain seemed to have kept the same tempo he would have applied in a performance.)
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