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dsoslglece

About rubato

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Hello,

I'd like to talk a bit, today about the Rubato in music... I said already a few words about it, somewhere, in an other post, but its concept has been so mislaid not to say perverted, that I feel the need of doing so today, and with a bit more details and examples.

The word in full is normally "Tempo rubato", what in Italian means "Stolen time" (from rubare=to steal... you have in English the word "robber")... and it is exactly what it is... you steal with one hand to give it back with the other (unfortunately, it is not generally what the robbers are doing... and just as unfortunately, it is not generally what the players are doing when using a so called rubato...

Of course, there are different kinds of rubatos (would be better to say rubati for the plural)... The most simple one, would be to play a passage (say a bar or maybe two) starting slower than the speed and accelerating till the end of the passage, untill one arrives faster than the general speed... and, in theory, that little exploit would have exactly the same duration than if it had been played exactly at the same speed all the way along... of course, in doing so (I said it is the simplier one), all the parts or different instruments would have played exactly the same way, and poifectly together... very simple indeed... Naturally, you also have the other way around...

Of course, there is also the way of holding a note a bit longer than it's proper value, to give it more expression...Debussy did it, and I discovered that most of the time it was the signification and the way to play (in his music), the notes on top of which he marked a small horizontal line... I remarked indeed that he himself played like that those notes every time they where some... Incidentally, he was a fantastic pianist, and he also used a perfect rubato when necessary. Evidently, doing so, shouldn't affect the other parts, and you have to compensate in playing the next note (or two) shorter...

But now lets talk a bit about the complete rubato... The correct one... Of course, every one's rubato IS "the correct one"... for him! ...

But I mean by that, that particular rubato which has been used and described by the great musicians in the course of the centuries... Starting at the XVIIth...

Emanuel Bach explains how to play his father's music (and also his own!)... he even tried to note it down... but as soon you note such a thing, well it is not anymore a rubato, but a series of syncopes!...

Others did try the same thing later on, for instance Baillot a great violinist at the turn of 1800, describing Viotti, (an other violinist, contemporary of Mozart but who died a bit older though) playing one of his concerti... he noted again a whole series of syncopes for rubato... it certainly is the only way to explain it... the only wrong thing been that, doing so, one continues to refer to one only speed of beats conducting the whole thing...

Mozart (he certainly new his business!) talks about it, and he said that "the left hand is the conductor, but that the right one does what it pleases it"... and that, is in fact one of the clearest statements defining the rubato.

You indeed have a time continuum in one hand, and an other one going about parallel, but not quite... taking a bit time at places, and running a bit faster at others... and doing so, the differences between those two can be really minimal, much less than when going all parts together, because it is generally more perceptible... but it gives all the same a feeling of freedom and expression, but also the sensation of stability...

Chopin used that way of playing, but with much mastery, and in such a way that he could play the same piece 2 or 3 times at different places of the same concert, without ever giving the feeling of repeating himself...

By the way it is a well known fact about Chopin, that he always had, during his practicing, a metronome going on his piano... which fact, when you know what is the real rubato, seems not only normal, but also an essential help to keep in mind the "every one's time" when playing in one or more other times continuum...

After Chopin, that art almost disappeared, and, perverted, became what was to become the fashion for the "not-to-bright-pianists" till the fifties...

I mean, to play always the bass at left hand first, a tiny bit earlier , before to play the rest of the harmony...

a sort of a "badoom, badoom"... Apart of that, there was certainly a wide use of not keeping with the time, but without, in the mean time, keeping an eye on it...

One of the last great players to use it was Eugène Ysaÿe the great violinist (he spent few years in the states, not counting his concerts tours, but as conductor of Cincinnati orchestra), and since it had already become so unusual, people playing with him did remark it... among them, one of the pianists playing oftens with him in concert tours, Jacques Dalcroze, said that Ysaÿe would ask to his pianist to play perfectly in time, and not to follow him around in his fantasy... One conductor (I unfortunately can't remember his name), said that acompanying Ysaÿe was very simple indeed, since if he would spend a bit time in a bar, he would just come back together with the orchestra in the course of the following bar or two...

Today though (appart of the cembalists, I mean the ones playing truly in the baroque style) there are unfortunately only two ways left to play:

1) Strictly in time, which puts one asleep, or for instance, when playing a Chopin waltz, makes it look like one more of those empty dancing supports...

2) with "rubato", but in today's sense, both hands glued together, which gives generally the feeling of a sick stomach. And, since I mentionned waltzes, one can imagine that some freedom taken with the melody or its ornaments (in Chopin, of course), has not necessary anything to do with the "oompahpah"... just the same way (but otherway around) that the Ompahpah of a "Wiener Valtzer" played in the proper "Wienerisch" way, that is : the first beat most of the time shorter than the two next, mustn't affect the quavers of the melody when they are six in the bar...

Saint-Saëns talks about rubato, and by the way, he mentionned one of the Chopin studies as THE study to be played with that type of rubato... (I'll try to upload an example of that one...) Debussy continued, I said it earlier, but he later concentrated more on composition... And, to my knowledge, one of the last one I've heard to use it, was Rachmaninov... (and luckily, there are still quite few recordings of him around...)

Interesting is the fact that probably, Rachmaninov got that knowledge (or "how-to-do") through Ysaÿe, since they performed together during some tours in the States, Ysaÿe at the end of his carrier, and Rachmaninov at the beginning of his.

I will try then to upload a few things... first the Berceuse from Chopin... and here, it really is a Berceuse... (when you rock a baby to make him sleep)... you have that sort of constant wave at the left hand, coming up and down, always, and so present that you finish to forget it... you don't hear it anymore... that's the rocking of the cradle which puts you asleep... and then you have the melody, with all those little runs... but they are more like smoke... they are completely free, turning around scrolling at the slightest breath... and they stay so much out of reach... Some times, to come back crudely to the technical point of view, there is more than a whole beat difference between the two hands, but I saw some professionals needing to consult the written part to realize it...

And of course, I'll try also to upload an extract of that study on rubato (the end was never recorded, since it had been made as samples)... I must say, it is here a quite different use of rubato, since here it is used to differenciate the melodies, starting a bit before the time, or a bit after,

but without altering the rigour of the repeated chords...

Evidently, I'll acknowledge here the pianist doing that : Christine Hartley-Troskie... I know her in fact for quite long time, and even played concerts with her quite oftens in the past, and she even comes some times to visit me in France, since she lives now in Florida, and I must say, in the course of her carrier, I could see her searches to achieve those goals, working toward them with such determinism, and some time more than despair too... but today I can say that she finally arrived close enough (one never completely arrives at the place of ones goal!)...

There is of course more than those few extracts of a CD, but if some one would be interested for more of this, there is more on eD2k and Gnutella... and some time soon probably on Torrents also...

So, enjoy those extracts. Cheers

NB: Sorry to had to cut those pieces like French Polony, but the max upload is 2 MB... lucky I didn' have to upload Wagner's Tetralogy or Messiaen Saint Franciscus!!

Berceuse_1.mp3

Berceuse_2.mp3

Berceuse_3.mp3

_tude_1.mp3

_tude_2.mp3

Edited by DudeAsInCool

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That was fascinating, dsosglece...sorry, I had a bit of rubato myelf, and didnt get back to comment on the post until today :lol: The examples were great, too. Please provide more educational rightups...those of us with pop backgrounds sorely and surely need it

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That was fascinating, dsosglece...sorry, I had a bit of rubato myelf, and didnt get back to comment on the post until today :lol: The examples were great, too. Please provide more educational rightups...those of us with pop backgrounds sorely and surely need it

Thanks Dude, I'll do it... particularly, I will talk from time to time about unknown composers (I mean great unknown masters)... after all, I did spend my life trying to make them known in presenting them to the public... so, it'll be only one more time.

But, I think first, I'll try to give some examples of nineteen century great piano players... But I must first convert the sound tracks into MP3... it'll take me a bit of time.

By the way, what is the rule in here about the copyrights... of course those recordings are dating from around 1912, but they have been re-recorded on vinyl some time later... but there will be only short examples... and normally, I believe that extracts shorter then 2mn (?) are OK, particularly when used as samples. Tell me if I'm wrong...

And, as for the re-recording, I guess that is probably something like some museums trying to clame copyrights over their copies of paintings dating from centuries... (a picture is theoritically not copyrightable when it is ONLY a true copy).

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By the way, what is the rule in here about the copyrights... of course those recordings are dating from around 1912, but they have been re-recorded on vinyl some time later... but there will be only short examples... and normally, I believe that extracts shorter then 2mn (?) are OK, particularly when used as samples. Tell me if I'm wrong...

it goes country by country. if someone asks us to take something down, we will - we mostly post links, though. i think anything before 30 something, will be ok

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