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05-12-2020 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat

Boston, MA
Posts 10,042
Joined on 05-27-2004

Post #: 1
Post ID: 25845
Reply to: 25845
About the thoughtfulness of large timing offset.
I have a long listening session yesterday and was thinking a lot about one interesting subject. Different playback systems differently present intentional “inconsistency” or better to say “unexpectancy” of timing. If you listen some truly masters to violate all timing markers and to play truly own individualistic music (Barbirolli, Golovanov, Celibidache, Scherchen come to mind) then with one playback their interpretations make more sense and with other has less sense.   

The minute (sort) offset of timing and an ability of payback to present it is well knows phenomena. Particularly it very auditable with piano, when great pianist could make magical micro-breakage of tempo, playing with “rhythmic holes”. Add to it sometime-constant or non-constant accompaniment that “offset” the rhythm ever further and we have a completely separate drama that not yet has to do anything with composition itself but presents own unique language of musical expression hat might very much work along with the program of the main composition. You need a great playback to handle it properly but generally it is not hard to accomplish by lowering intermodulation and using phase-constant playback. Then truly complex question comes: why and how different playbacks deal with not the minute offset of timing but large offset of timing. The large offset of timing are the conductor’s strategic tempos acceleration or deceleration. Here is where different playbacks present the large offset of timing in one case as a truly ingénues and deeply meaningful intention and in other cases as a stupid contra-orthodox move.  I have no idea what characteristic of playback is responsible for it.

The most interesting aspect to me in this subject is not that fact that different playback do it but that it variant in context of one playback. It feels to me that it changes with a system getting broken in. A fully broken-in playback does fine but if a playback is in the state I would say 80% of to be completely broken in then the ability of the playback to highlight the meaning of large timing offset very much magnifies and presented in a full philosophical glory. The fully broken in playback for sure sounds better but it also reduced some colors in highlighting the mindfulness of the large timing offsets.

Romy the Cat

"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
05-15-2020 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree

Posts 435
Joined on 07-05-2012

Post #: 2
Post ID: 25846
Reply to: 25845
The art of tempo change
Actually, in the history of music, rhythm changes inside a phrase are not that old. Hugo Riemann coined the phrase Agogik (Agogics) in 1884 and the following things were included:
  • accel. (accelerando) – accellerate - play increasingly faster
  • string. (stringendo) – more hurried
  • ritard. or rit. (ritardando) – slow down
  • rall. (rallentando) – gradually slow down
  • smorz. (smorzando) – ersterbend
  • più (or menomosso – with more motion (or less)

Additional qualifiers: poco (‚a little‘), poco a poco (‚gradually‘), or ma non troppo (‚not too much‘)

Much earlier, sudden pauses were used to simulate an accent with instruments like the organ or harpsichord that had little possibilities with this type of more pronounced articulation. This is not to say that agogics were not performed before 1884, rather that the music world felt a need to describe the phenomena.

In audio playback, we hopefully have the "organic" recording where agogics are applied tastefully, and we have the level that keeps the phrase "connected" in spite of the additional length or space. Exaggerated articulation can destroy the feeling that notes belong to one another.

Whenever I feel blue, I start breathing again.
05-17-2020 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat

Boston, MA
Posts 10,042
Joined on 05-27-2004

Post #: 3
Post ID: 25847
Reply to: 25846
That was not what I meant.
Actually I did not mean the timing offset dictated by musical or performing reasons. They are whatever they are. What I meant is how the performance timing get reflected by playback system.  Timing during a performing event is not the timing during listening a playback system. During live listening invent timing is a property of composition, acoustics and performer will/intention. During playback there is one more ingredient in place: the perceived timing alternation introduced by the language of audio transformations.

"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
05-18-2020 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree

Posts 435
Joined on 07-05-2012

Post #: 4
Post ID: 25848
Reply to: 25847
It perhaps uses the same synapses?
The audiophools have a term PRaT: Pace, Rhythm and Timing that apply here - even if many do not understand that this is NOT something that makes you tap your toes to the banjo... Performing jazz musicians have a term "groove" that covers similar territory.

I believe that the played music very much relates to the audio transformations. If we watch an orchestra rehearse, the conductor waves his baton in a much different way than when the piece is performed. The rehearsal is to get the band together and once they can't get that wrong, the conductor is able to take "liberties" to shape the music. If a recording is a mixture of rehearsal and live concert, many times this is audible. If we watch the conductor very closely during a performance, our perception is very much influenced by the visuals.
When we play back a recording, I believe that it makes a HUGE difference if we are listening to this performance for the first time, or if we listen to it more often. The perception of agogics changes when we become familiar with what the orchestra did. Space (if the playback can even create the space) before a huge climax becomes very much an artistic element. In a small (compared to the performance space) environment, there is a lot of competition for space, room effects, articulation, density of tone, how connected notes are - as well as the liberties that the conductor and his soloists took (were allowed to take).
It is interesting to have a fine conductor listen to audio renditions of great performances. The score is often in their head and manipulation of space makes them think about completely different aspects of the performance, not just the drama. Very often, they do not even recognize their own performances.

Whenever I feel blue, I start breathing again.
05-25-2020 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Posts 3
Joined on 11-15-2018

Post #: 5
Post ID: 25852
Reply to: 25845
Out of my reach. But what about only the small minute tempo variations?

This topic it is of upmost importance to me in this stage of personal development, if I understood you. After my obsession with timbre, when I finally got a bit of satisfaction with violins, after horns, I failed with tempo. Or with inner tempo. The playback, digital, FIR filter, then plain solid state ancillaries afterwards, solid, basic, simple, is out of doubt (it failed me with other issues but not this one). When I used a pro monitor the flexibility with tempo that performers used to create meaning in certain pieces disappeared. My first encounter was with Brahms first piano concerto. Some interpretations are virtuosistic, some subtle, some strong, colourful, singing, dramatic, but at the end, very homogeneous in their approach, like the soloist decided what is about and play with a single idea. But few of them play with that propulsion and alternance of mood of a young man in loved without hope, but with reasons to dream with happiness, with desperation, dark moments and joy, in and out.

Then Beethoven violin concerto, more successful for me in good interpretations but a few like a drone sound with a first movement like in a loop with no end.

Then Sibelius violin concerto...

With the pro monitor not very well powered by the amplifier, the tempo flattens, there are no perceived nuances that I know are in the recording, nuances with the tempo. I can not perceive them. The drama disappears, and some other feeling, uncomfortable takes place: impatience. I want more impulse, more speed, more and more speed, more sounds at the same time, more instruments, more musical noises, more cacophony, more events in the sound per second. I was getting bored but in a strange way.

I knew about the recordings in a previous set up with the same system and a mid band centric monitor, with tough diaphragm but no bass like at all. The nuances with tempo were there, in fact I learnt about them with this system. Then, finally, I got another monitor, underpowered as well, but capable of too much drama. So much so that it amplifies a notch all those nuances, more obvious now than ever. And more useful range.

And everything was well until I discovered what I lost in return. Per Nørgård, and his third symphony, Gorecki, Unsuk Chin, Birtwistle, ... Back until Schoenberg. All this music was meaningful, enjoyable, explorable, with the pro audio monitor that probably was made not for music rendering but for sounds of any kind, like water drops, metal banging and whatnot. At the moment I can’t go further in my research of this topic. I don’t have the time or means.

Some Mahler, not romantic, made more sense, like the first of the modernist. One recording, with Sibelius and Schoenberg violin concertos was night and day. You have to change speaker to enjoy each. I don’t have any insight why it is happening. The superb drama queen monitor, neutral, subtle, underpowered, can perform like a diva. But with xx century music later than Strauss or some later romantics, it is impossible. Any composition, modern, with a clear indication, rigid, of tempo, from the composer, like it is part of the texture of the things, it is dead music. Or music performed by people with technique but not interest, like only playing until the end to get a cheque and run away fast from there. But it is not like that with the pro monitor.

From Bach to Wagner, to maybe Rimsky-Korsakov and Falla, Albeniz, Rodrigo... the diva take you to a place like you grasp everything, like a omnipotent god (Beethoven is like that)

I don’t know which elements are interplaying here. At some point I thought about modern manipulation of sound in compositions that use water, stones, buckets, helicopters, guns, cups and other objects, as part of the music-making sounds. Or exotic Indian, Balinese, Chinese, Japanese,... instruments interleaved with Center European sounds of a orchestra. I thought, in my obsession with timbre, that my problem, my perception, was again new timbres not being accurately rendered. And that the pro monitor can do a good service here. Even if it flattens the tempo of Xix century Music and the violins are a metal instrument that consists on scratching with your nails a blackboard. 

But I know it is not the truth. I carry on thinking and exploring solutions. Regarding Romy wider tempo manipulations, in the hands of conductors, maybe, or as a phenomenon that emerges as a group of individuals doing it in their own terms, it is absolutely out of my reach. 

05-30-2020 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Paul S
San Diego, California, USA
Posts 2,517
Joined on 10-12-2006

Post #: 6
Post ID: 25859
Reply to: 25852
Time for Music
Thinking of this discussion I just revisited a "time-related" post I made years ago:


Great work from Fritz Reiner, directing the RSO through Brahms' 4th Symphony, and perhaps worth a close listen in this context.  Having heard it the way I described it, I would miss the timing aspects were they not present for me. As I said in my post on Brahms' Magelone Lieder, I consider this to be based on "rhythms of speech", which are in turn tied to breathing, which is affected by and directed toward so many things, for so many reasons, including mode and modal aspects of expression, that an idea is "vocalized".

Paul S
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