Washington University Lectures 1963/64

Lecture 2 (Oct 4) — Part 3/3

From the Rosalyn Tureck Collection,
Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center at Boston University

Part 1 | Part 2

[Editor's note: There appear to have been difficulties with the recording of this lecture, and as a result several omissions are indicated with elipses.]

No. 4 reads "It influences not only melodic line, but also all the other elements of music — rhythm, harmony and structure, and all the elements of performance — phrasing, tempo, touch and dynamics, and these in turn influence it." Let me say it again. Ornamentation influences not only the melodic line — because this is the way most people approach ornamentation, the melody — but also all the other elements of music. Rhythm — it influences the rhythm; it influences the harmony and the structure of the music. It also influences the elements of performance — phrasing, it influences tempo, it influences touch, it influences dynamics. And these elements of performance influence it. ...

No. 5 "It is a written system which is comprehensible only to the literate; it has its own terms, its own idiomatic expressions, its own nuances of meaning and expression, all of which are expressed by and communicated through its symbols." It's a language, it's a notation. It's no good learning a few of the ornaments and thinking as a musician you can get on with them. One must be literate. If you don't understand ornamentation, it's simply because you haven't learned that language and that logic. It's a foreign language. If you don't ... It's very simple.

Now no. 6 "Ornamentation forms a mass of rules and categories of types which allow exceptions, variations, improvisations and personal freedom. Therefore scholarship, judgment, and feeling must all be present in its practice." If you understand what these six points involve, you get a better idea of what ornamentation is. ... Now I show you the basis. I continue that about this one phrasing on piano and harpsichord. As I showed you there is a great deal of staccato — it was that one 8th set me off on all this discussion because that long note is determined by the harmony.

Now you understand that I don't base phrasing on one element alone. Most phrasing in our time is ... evolution of phrasing. What is phrasing? ... Often start in the middle of a sentence. A phrase is a sentence. You base the rise and fall. You get this in certain kinds of music. But it has nothing to do with this type of ... So that, of course, doesn't take in anything besides this very simple ... structure. But as I showed you a moment ago, most phrasing today is chiefly melodic and the rhythm is never ... now and then harmonic but in a small way. So it is because of that only harmonically (plays) I make that note long. The opening note is an upbeat (plays) Now it's a short upbeat. I make that staccato only because it is a short note. It's the rhythm that is important (plays) Now my rhythmic introduces to the resolution (plays)

This is something that belongs very much to the music of Bach and pre-Bach — phrasing into the beat, not on the beat. The phrasing on the beat — that is rhythmically ... is something different ... where harmonic structure ... no sense of resolution ... from Bach and pre-Bach. And one finds in Bach all the time this underlying harmonic demand — into the beat. ... second, third, fourth — more than one ... strongest of the elements. But because this is a very elementary figure, one finds that it usually resolves that way harmonically, as well, and rhythmically. When one considers these three elements in relation to the beat, sometimes you have ... because each element sometimes appears, and if you don't analyze the phrase and especially the relation ... then you can never make up your mind. But you will find, most of the time, there is a resolution and a reason you can find if you want to.

So that I think in the C# major Prelude of Book II ... but I must finish off this (plays) Now you notice that little bit about harmonic background ... We've spent two hours on that one phrase. Now if I used the same kind of phrasing on the harpsichord (plays) That's ridiculous, because a great deal of staccato is ridiculous on the harpsichord and on the clavichord, also, very often a great deal of staccato is ridiculous. You may have noticed that I played the Prelude and Fugue almost entirely legato — the C# major. But there was articulation and there was phrasing, without which it would also be ridiculous. But it is an entirely different type of articulation, an entirely different type of phrasing that is employed for the clavichord. Much more legato on the whole because of the simple nature of the instrument. But the interesting thing is that on this bright, brilliant, sharp-toned instrument, the staccato is — should not be employed it really does not fit.

Now don't make a general rule of that and say never play staccato on a harpsichord. One must know where and how. But as I played that for you, you can see that ... I don't know how attuned your ears are to this kind of sound. If they are not, take my word for it, or you can try it for yourself. Now let me play it again for you — first with the phrasing I used for the piano, and then with something more suitable (plays) Now this is the phrasing I used in playing the C# major (plays) ... thought that the harpsichord in performance had more rhythmic drive on the harpsichord than on the piano. That was because I was playing the harpsichord D major of the harpsichord. You notice immediately that I do this (plays) Much more drive and rhythmic power than if I play (plays) So this is one of the main reasons why I such entirely different phrasing for the performance on the harpsichord, and, on the whole, it is less staccato.

But still there is an enormous amount of articulation and I do utilize staccato. For instance (plays) Now listen to this (plays) That's legato but this is staccato (plays) Now I do not handle it that way on the piano. I do the upbeats in most figures staccato ... in equal clarity, but by playing this legato (plays) and this staccato (plays) you hear two figures and you hear the difference between the 6 and the 4 ... then you hear the resolution (plays) the upbeat and the downbeat. You hear all those things as a result of making the first legato and the second staccato, and you hear the structure because you know its ...

So we have all those things as a result of the differentiation of this one upbeat — really all the elements of music. This is the kind of thing I mean by differentiations in structures, differentiations which grow out of the structures and its just this kind of example which gives you some idea why perhaps my playing is much more clear ... This is going on — well, mathematically I couldn't say at what degree of multiplication square root. In my playing every second in every finger — every finger and every part of the hand through the entire ... four different phrasings all the time. And on the piano not only four different phrasings all at the same time but four different dynamics; four different textures through touch and these are changing places all the time because of the way Bach wrote his fugues. ... what I think he is thinking — true to the intention of the composer. If Bach takes the trouble to write the way he did, I take the trouble to find his ways ...

Now I will go from that to the study of phrasing. Already in the first little piece or here again in the little Applicatio with the fingering. In the realized versions you will see phrasings and I explain something there about the long phrase and the inner phrase. I don't want to take the time for that sort of thing now. I want to start a little bit on the beginnings of finding your phrasing and what it means to play out of ... Now the second place which is a chorale ... but it is considered out of the way — those two lines. Notice that in the soprano in the opening you have the upbeat legato ... rest of the phrase in the first bar. In the bass you have an upbeat which, is staccato and the phrase in the bass on the down beat begins on the beat.

Now there is a reason for that (plays) Now first of all harmonically (plays) This is the establishment of the tonic (plays) 8-1 sounds like a beginner ... it etches it harmonically and (plays) it etches out the fact of the melody in the upper voice (plays) because the upper voice sounds much more legato (plays) not this (plays) — so that again we cannot make a rule to go ... (plays) You see I ... because its nature is primarily harmonic (plays) and I say primarily because no figure has only one element; only harmonic, only rhythmic, etc. — it has all three all the time. Sometimes it is primarily one, sometimes another; sometimes it is primarily two and sometimes it is primarily three ... But this is one reason why I begin with this particular piece. ... in a clear way with its connotation. So you see already this is contrapuntal music; already it is contrapuntal and you hear all the elements of the music (plays)

Now the bass is (plays) harmony (plays) and the upper voice with the one phrase moves right through those chords. Again that is emphasizing the melodic line ... and the rhythmic and the harmonic ... At the same time the long line also brings into focus what's going on in the bass ... (plays) Now I have done something very radical there in the phrasing for a certain piece in this book. You notice four bars from the end the last beat in the upper voice goes into the beat (plays) into the down beat and in the third bar from the end the bass continues the upbeat phrasing (plays) beginning the phrase on the beat while the upper voice finishes the phrase on the beat. So you have this situation — one voice finishes the phrase on the beat and the other one begins the phrase — you have this contrapuntal, melodic, rhythmic interest. The music does that (plays) or this (plays) that makes no sense (plays) The music falls into the down beat (plays) whereas in the bass (plays) harmonically that is necessary (plays) ... it is not an accident that that harmony occurred on that beat (plays) ... so you are bringing out both the harmonic and the rhythmic at the same time. And you do not destroy the melody in the upper voice.

If you were to phrase this way (plays) you are destroying the melody in the upper voice as well because (plays) you don't hear the melody, you don't hear the harmony (plays) ... and this same figure has the same place harmonically as (plays) as it did on the down beat on the first. This has the same importance harmonically on the third beat. All those things become clear. Then (plays) Now notice the phrasing there. Again the upbeat goes into the down beat through the whole first beat and then it is slurred. Whereas in the bass you have two quarter notes which are slurred together making two beats, whereas the melody is broken up into single beats. I indicate that to bring out the melody and preserve the longer line in the bass. But quite the contrary if you do that (plays) You have no sense of relation harmonically and it will again very much damage the main line of the upper voice and would also damage the sense of dissonance ... figures in the bass.

For instance (plays) those are very ... figures after all, aren't they (plays) ... there is a lot of dissonance there. Now if you play (plays) you destroy the dissonance. But if you slur that (plays) and you break this (plays) and at the same time ... (plays) one phrase separated by slurs (plays) and make three phrases in the soprano instead of (plays) Now that's a new phrase. While I am finishing off the slur in the bass, I am ... at the same time, and you hear it as melody (plays) (Then you would say phrasing is for the performer a matter of execution ...) I am afraid I don't understand you (... how do you know?) Yes, first I will ask you to turn off this machine.