The internet went away this morning but it’s back. I put in some time yesterday playing on my little synth I brought with me. I like bringing it. It is so light and easy to move. That’s a big plus for me these days. I played Bach and Louie Couperin. I even did some Bach chorale partitas which are probably meant for organ but are for manual only.
warning: a little music nerd talk
The edition of Frescobaldi’s Fiori musicali I brought with me has many pages of background information. I have been saving it for when I can read through this at leisure. This morning I did so. I learned a ton.
I don’t know that much about Italian music from the 17th century. Italians that I have played include Corelli and Vivaldi. I have played music by Frescobaldi, the Gabriellis and other Italians but I haven’t actually studied much about how this music should be performed.
My first “aha” came reading the description of how the pipes on the Italian organs were voiced. Calvert Johnson, the editor of this volume, describes them as “soft, round, gentle, sweet, lively, silvery, and never aggressive.” This instantly reminds me of a recording of an Italian organ that I own. The sound of the instrument is quite beautiful and gentle. This fits my predilection about this music. It seems almost delicate to me but having a liveliness all its own.
My second “aha” came when after the usual lengthy description of the many kinds of fingerings we know the Baroque Italians used, Johnson points out the contradictions and concludes that fingering is not conclusive evidence of articulation. This is bad news for a lot of early music keyboard people who have concluded exactly the opposite. Since keyboard players at this time only used three fingers in each hand many of the scales are fingered with only two fingers. Players in the last century often used this to play scale passages in groups of two. This can sound goofy to me on Italian and English music from the 16th and 17th century. French music is another matter since it often cries out for the unevenness (inegale) used by the French.
Recently when Dick Hoogterp was listening to me play on the new Pasi he remarked that he needed to remember not to play too legato. Linda Fulton who is substituting for me today remarked that I play much more staccato than she does. I do what I do mostly instinctively, because it sounds good to me. The whole question about how much space to put between notes (articulation) is one that needs constant evaluation.
Other surprises for me in Johnson’s critical apparatus (a fancy word for all the stuff experts stick into music and books) include Frescobaldi’s recommendation that sixteenth notes against eighth notes be played short long (like inegale) and that trills should not match runs note for note but trill freely while the other hand play its line expressively.
I’m about half way through reading the introduction and feel like I need some time to absorb the information. But I may do some playing of the music on my harpsichord stop on my synth today.
Balkinization: Constitutional Rot and Constitutional Crisis
My brother put this May 15th article up yesterday. It does have some helpful distinctions. We are rotting not in crisis.
President Trump, Melting Under Criticism – The New York Times
One of the comments on this article is that Trump is a weak person’s idea of what a strong person looks like. True that.
Counseled by Industry, Not Staff, E.P.A. Chief Is Off to a Blazing Start – The New York Times
Greed. Greed and mostly legal corruption.
In a Desperate Syrian City, a Test of Trump’s Policies – The New York Times
On the ground last Thursday in a desperate situation in Syria.
Crematory Is Booked? Japan Offers Corpse Hotels – The New York Times
On a lighter note, dead people in hotels with their families waiting in line for cremation.