Conductors can't read dynamics

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niknakewok

New Member
Hi James!

No - Cage 4'33 is NOT silence. The reason he did it was to prove that you can never have complete silence. He went into a soundproof room to do an experiment on silence, and he found that he still heard noises (his heartbeat, breathing etc) So he composed a piece of music which is different EVERYTIME it is performed and to prove that you can never have compete silence. Mad, possibly, but it proved that silence is just as effective and important as non-silence (is that a word! lol) :dunno

I would like to hear some ffffff - sounds very entertaining. The pppppp would be almost inaudible - kinda like Cages 'silence' :grnsm

Hmmmm....maybe we should get Cage out at band one night, 4'33 of silence in our band - I think thats bloody impossible! :lol:

Luv
Nik
 

James McFadyen

New Member
Hi Niki!

I've never performed John Cages' 4'33 live, if I ever were, I'd walk off the stage! :wink:

I'm not a big fan off stuff like that, but I realise as a composer he has the right to do it, although not my cup of tea, give me some notes and melodies, then fine :wink:

as for silence in our band, ur quite right, those horns just can't keep quiet, but us cornets, we stay quiet throughout the entire rehersal :oops: :oops: I'm sure dave would testify that I'm the quietest member of the band ;) mmmmmmmm It's george, honest, but having Louise and Micheala right next to me doesn't help, either! :wink: :wink:
 

niknakewok

New Member
I dont actually think you cornet players know how to be quiet! :lol: Kinda annoying when I'm standing at the front of the band trying to tell them stuff and people are chattering amongst themselves (I really couldn't give a toss if its about the piece of music they are playing and giving each other little tips, or if its about what you all had for tea) I'm talking. Shut up and listen. Pet hate. Sorry. :oops:

At uni we had a performance of Cages 4'33, hmmm.... personally I can think of better things to do with my time than watch/listen/understand that! I think i spent the time thinking about my dissertation and how theres not enough hours in the day! I think you'll agree!
 

JessopSmythe

Active Member
What I want to know is how many people sat and listened to 4'33" on Radio 3 a few weeks ago? and how many just turned over to something else?

Incidentally, much as it pains me to do it :) , I'm going to agree with James on this one. If it's just for a few notes that are supposed to stand out, what's wrong with ffffff? No-one ever seems to complain about the ffff in farandol :!:
 

MRSH

Supporting Member
niknakewok said:
I would like to hear some ffffff - sounds very entertaining.

I remember looking through a score for Terpsichore, a wind band piece, by Michael Praetorius. Being a percussionist I took particular notice of the percussion parts. In one passage there is a tam-tam beat marked with 17 f's.

Now, 17 f's is b****y loud in anyone's book. But what is the point. I understand completely the neccessity of wanting to indicate the particular passage needs to be played 'LOUD' but in my book if I want somebody to play as loud as possible I write 'fff possible'. This means as loud as possible.

Can you imagine playing through a piece and the tam-tam player hits the thing as hard as he/she possibly can and the conductor stops the rehearsal and says "sorry percussionist but that tam-tam beat was only 16 f's can you hit it a bit harder- I want 17". What would your response be???? I know what mine would be and the second word would be "off".

By all means write what you want but keep it within the bounds of musical (and human) possibility.
 

JessopSmythe

Active Member
I'd just like to clarify my previous post. As a composer, anyone is free to write what ever dynamics they like. As a player and occasional conductor, I reserve the right to ignore them any time I feel like it :D
 

BottyBurp

Member
James McFadyen said:
Now we all know that Brass Bands have that nice sound! But r we ever go get any dirty sounds out the Brass Band - I think most will disagree with me here, but sometimes I think BB's can be too nice and polished sounding!

For once, I agree with James - Yes, most people will disagree with you.

James McFadyen said:
If a composer writes fff on low notes for cornets, then he wants them 'raspy' because fff that's what they notes would sound like.

For example, in my testpiece Opposition of Mars, last four notes are marked ffffff, with 'Explosive!' written over the top. Now, when this gets played as a testpiece one year (if :( ) will conductors rather abusively say only play it ff because that will give a nicer sound. Common sence yea? Yea! but if someone write ffffff for a BB tutti, they don't want a pleasant sound, they want it over-blown. To help conductors see why dymanics are so important to be adhered to 100% of the time,

Very kind of you James, thankyou. I always did wonder all that extra blurb was written very annoyingly all over my scores!

James McFadyen said:
I will be changing 'Explosive!' to 'Blastissimo' that way there should be no confusion to what I want. Not being selfish, but it is my own music and surely I klnow what I want. and indeed if they don't over blow it, it will be totally the wrong colour and that IS a bad mark of the conductor and not the players (for a change!) :)

Or it means that they are indeed musicians...

James McFadyen said:
Anyhow, just wondered if anybody in here thought that maybe some 'dirt' could be a nice BB touch at somepoint?

IMHO, some banders only think pleasant is good - let's hope we don't have a brass band playing in a horror movie -------- oh no the blonde is getting stabbed a thousand times (let's play suger blues! ; )

Most will disagree I'm sure, but hey, worth a try! :wink:

I think I'm just talking *beep* now

Only now???

James McFadyen said:
, it's been a long day! :lol:

FYI - Don't read too much into the thread title, wasn't what I meant! :lol:
 

James McFadyen

New Member
MRSH said:
niknakewok said:
I would like to hear some ffffff - sounds very entertaining.

I remember looking through a score for Terpsichore, a wind band piece, by Michael Praetorius. Being a percussionist I took particular notice of the percussion parts. In one passage there is a tam-tam beat marked with 17 f's.

Now, 17 f's is b****y loud in anyone's book. But what is the point. I understand completely the neccessity of wanting to indicate the particular passage needs to be played 'LOUD' but in my book if I want somebody to play as loud as possible I write 'fff possible'. This means as loud as possible.

Can you imagine playing through a piece and the tam-tam player hits the thing as hard as he/she possibly can and the conductor stops the rehearsal and says "sorry percussionist but that tam-tam beat was only 16 f's can you hit it a bit harder- I want 17". What would your response be???? I know what mine would be and the second word would be "off".

By all means write what you want but keep it within the bounds of musical (and human) possibility.

When u start adding extreme dynmaics, especailly 17 f's (my 6 f's don't seem to alien down do they! ;) ) it's not meant to be taken literly 17 f's, it's mearly an indication to belt the thing as hard as you can with disregard to tone or subtlety. A composer said to me a few days ago what does ffffff mean, what's it's name? Would it make anybody feel beter if it had a name? I'l make one up ! :wink: :wink:

Like JessopSmythe said, we can do what ever we want , but conductors can choose not to direct them, which has proved my point, that some conductors believe they know better than the guy who wrote and this is what gets my goat.......sure by all means don't play the 6 f's or even the 17 f's, but why change what the composer - believe it or not we don't just write random things and write things for the sake of it. It is an art. Besides I gave you my thinking behind the 6 f's and as conductors ur supposed to see this, you can't say no I'm wrong, because that is absurd, not being blunt, but really you cant tell someone his own creation is wrong, you can have a different view on the music or may not have been the way u would write it - but that's the point of composition. If someone told me my music sounds like Alan Fernie or Goff Richards, I would be offended, not because I dislike them, they are very talented composer, buty I don't want to sound like them. As any composer will testify ur own unqiue compositional voice is the number one thing you should be aiming for, that's what sets all composer apart.

Anyhoooo, some great comment here, but still proving my point nonetheless - ie: there is nothing wrong with 6 f's as long as it puts the effect I want across (which it does) & conductors and/or players may tone it down to produce a nicer sound. Not what I wrote.

Great support and fab debate! :wink: :wink:
 

Accidental

Supporting Member
James McFadyen said:
When u start adding extreme dynmaics, especailly 17 f's (my 6 f's don't seem to alien down do they! ;) ) it's not meant to be taken literly 17 f's, it's mearly an indication to belt the thing as hard as you can with disregard to tone or subtlety.

I always thought that dynamic markings had precise meanings and should therefore be taken literally. Using the standard notation as I know and understand it, the loudest possible volume would realistically be fff or ffff. How is anyone supposed to know that you mean something different if you don't actually say so?!!!
 

James McFadyen

New Member
ppp = very very quiet, like a whisper TRIPLE PIANO

pp = very quiet PIANISSIMMO

p = quiet PIANO

mp =medium quiet MEZZO-PIANO

mf = medium loud (the generic volume) MEZZO-FORTE

f = loud FORTE

ff = very loud FORTISSIMMO

fff = full throttle, very loud TRIPLE FORTE

Words like Piu and Meno can be used so u can have mp, piu mp, mf, piu mf, f.

Extreme dynmaics have no real italian definition that I'm aware of, probably because they are extreme and the clue is in the dynmaic, for every extra f added, get that bit louder, for ever p added get quieter.

I think if we had to go all the way upto 17's f, it would get messy in it's definition - 17 f's kinda makes it clear cut on any conductor belt it as hard as possible without barrier to the sound.

The thing about fff even if u write loud as poss, I think there would still be a top barrier. A composer must be clear of his intensions at ALL TIMES. If he wants the sound dirty and really blasted, fff loud as poss will not suffice in my book and still allow for a margin of error. With effects such as these there can be no margin of error, every player and the conductor muct be clear on what the composer is asking.

Since there is no barrier at the top of the sound in my 6 f's blastissimmo (clue is in the there, btw) I feel this is CLEAR indication that I wanted really really really loud and blasted.

Hope this solves it for you. :wink:
 

James McFadyen

New Member
I'm sorry I cannot be of help, I would suggest that u think of 6 f' at sextuple-forte. in line with double forte, tripple forte, quadtripplefote, quintupleforte, etc.

Like I said I have written 6 f's and the word Blastissimmo. There should be no confusion whatsoever.

:lol:
 

PeterBale

Moderator
Staff member
Three brief points: if anyone wants to see extreme dynamics, try and get hold of the score for the Ligeti violin concerto as played in a prom broadcast last year - multiple p's and f's abounding, written largely apparently to give the general idea of what he wanted, rather than intended to be taken literally - ocarinas at 6 or 8 f's does not seem to make much sense :!:

As for the Praetorius refence above, I presume that the markings were put in by the arranger as, for all the various instruments listed in his various writings, I don't believe the tam tam was one of them :shock:

Thirdly, I believe the premise in the title thread is wrong in talking about conductors not being able to read the dynamics. If they read them and then choose to interpret them in their own way, even if it does go against the express indications of the composer, that is another matter entirely.
 

James McFadyen

New Member
PeterBale said:
I believe the premise in the title thread is wrong in talking about conductors not being able to read the dynamics.

Like I said at the very start of the thread, the title was a mistake and shouldn't be taken as I don't think conductors can read dynamics, because they can :wink: Sorry for the mistake, but I not being able to change the thread title, there is little I can do but apologise, so conductors u can read dynamics :)
 

lynchie

Active Member
It seems there is a problem... people don't like the 6 fs because it is unmusical... James has said he wants it played loud, obnoxiously and unmusically... somewhere there's a breakdown in communication here...

even at the end of 1812 there's ffff written on the trombones and euphs (I think, definitely the trombones anyway) but this is still expected to be played in a musical fat tone kind of way, so you'd need more than that for what James is going for, right? so maybe he could have gone for 5, but really at that point, did it really matter?

As little as I can imagine enjoying this particular chord, or sequence, or whatever, I think the marking gives a pretty good idea of what is required, and lots of conductors will think "I'm not doing that, it's silly!" in which case they will most likely return the music to the shelf and leave it there...

I'm sure there's a problem here (other than the obvious "We don't like change so don't try and make us" problem that prevails around banding) with communication somewhere... could someone help me out?
 

Lauradoll

Active Member
James!

The topic says "conductors can't read dynamics", then you've gone on to say that bands and conductors can't play as loud as you want them to. Conductors can read dynamics, however maybe people don't want to injure themselves by blowing their nackers off.
 

James McFadyen

New Member
Oh god, do I have to say it again, the thread title was a mistake.

Injury may be an issue! :wink: :wink:

only kiddin'!

I'm not going to change any of it, cuz it's fine the way it is.
 
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