November 17, 2016 ~ Today in Music History

today

• 1726 ~ The first performance of J. S. Bach‘s Sacred Cantata No. 55 Ich armer Mensch, ich Sündenknecht on the 22nd Sunday following Trinity. Was part of Bach’s third annual Sacred Cantata cycle in Leipzig 1725-27

• 1848 ~ Frederic Chopin played his final piano concert at a Polish benefit ball at Guildhall in London.

• 1850 ~ Giuseppe Verdi‘s opera Stifellio was first performed at the Teatro Grande in Trieste despite difficulties with the censors which resulted in cuts and changes.

• 1861 ~ First Performance of Johannes Brahms Piano Quintet No. 1 in g, Op. 25, at a rehearsal in Hamburg, with pianist Clara Schumann.

• 1862 ~ The work noted above received its official premiere with members of the Hellmesberger Quartet; Brahms at the piano, in Vienna.

• 1870 ~ Birth of Australian composer Alfred Hill in Melbourne. d-Sydney, 30 OCT 1960.

• 1876~ The first performance of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky‘s March Slav in Moscow.

• 1877 ~ The first production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s opera, The Sorcerer, was presented, in London.

• 1888~ The first production of Tchaikovsky‘s Fifth Symphony in St. Petersburg.

• 1891 ~ Poland’s premier and premier ivory tickler, Ignace Jan Paderewski, made his American debut at Carnegie Hall in New York City. In later years, Paderewski, who suffered from arthritis, settled in Paso Robles, CA. The hot mineral baths located there eased his pain. He played only Steinway grand pianos custom-built to his specifications. In fact, five were made just for his use.

• 1925 ~ Sir Charles Mackerras, Australian conductor

• 1930 ~ David Amram, American composer and French-horn player

• 1938 ~ Gordon Lightfoot, Canadian folk singer, songwriter and guitarist

• 1938 ~ Orchestra leader Kay Kyser, speaking to an audience at the College of the City of New York (CCNY) told of the “inner workings and artistic features of swing music.” It marked the first of a series of lectures on swing music presented by Kyser, who went on to presentThe Kollege of Musical Knowledge on radio.

• 1941 ~ Gene Clark, Singer, guitar with The Byrds

• 1942 ~ Bob Gaudio, Singer with The Royal Teens; The Four Seasons

• 1946 ~ Martin Barre, Guitarist with Jethro Tull

• 1950 ~ Roberta Peters filled in for the lead in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, making her debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. She would become one of the Met’s most famous stars.

• 1962 ~ The 4 Seasons, with Frankie Valli as lead singer, began a five-week run at the top of the tunedex with Big Girls Don’t Cry.

• 1967 ~ Ronald DeVoe, Singer with New Edition

• 1970 ~ Elton John recorded an album live, on what was WABC-FM in New York City. It marked the first time that a concert was aired live and recorded for release as aired. The LP was titled, 11/17/70.

• 1981 ~ Bob Eberly died

• 2001 ~ Jerry Jerome, a tenor sax player who was a featured soloist with the bands of Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman, died of leukemia. He was 89. One of the big names in the Big Band era, Jerome was a featured soloist with the Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Red Norvo and Artie Shaw orchestras. He then became a successful musical director and conductor on radio and television. Jerome also established a music business, scoring and arranging commercial jingles. Three years ago, Arbors Records released Jerome’s “Something Old, Something New.” The sequel recording, “Something Borrowed, Something Blue,” will be released in December. Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., Jerome started playing the sax while in high school. He attended the University of Alabama and went on the medical school, playing gigs at jazz clubs to earn tuition money. He joined Goodman’s orchestra at the height of its popularity in 1938. When Goodman broke up his band in 1940, Jerome joined Shaw. While with Shaw, he appeared in the film “Second Chorus,” with Fred Astaire and Burgess Meredith.

• 2003 ~ Arthur Conley, a 1960s soul singer and protege of Otis Redding’s, died at his home in the town of Ruurlo, in the eastern Netherlands. He was 57. Conley was born in Atlanta and started his recording career in 1959 as leader of the group Arthur and the Corvets. He was best known for his 1967 hit, Sweet Soul Music, which he co-wrote with Redding based on a number by Sam Cooke. Conley had several minor hits in the following two years. He moved to Europe in the early 1970s after several tours of the continent, deciding that he was “fed up with the pressure” in the United States, said Giesen. In the Netherlands, Conley appeared on television and radio, and ran an independent record label. In the last five years he was an adviser to The Original Sixties R&B and Soul Show, which sought to reproduce the sound and look of the heyday of soul.

A Different Piano Design

Renowned pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim has unveiled a new type of piano, which he says is a “sound alternative” to the standard concert grand piano that has not undergone much change over a century.

Barenboim, 72, launched the instrument at the Royal Festival Hall here on Tuesday, in advance of his Schubert recital series.

Declaring the new piano a “sound alternative”, Barenboim said: “I’ve fallen in love with it and I want to spend as much time with it as possible.”

The exterior of the new piano looks much the same as any other modern concert grand piano, but inside, there are some dramatic differences, The Guardian reported.

Designed by the Belgian instrument-maker Chris Maene, the Barenboim has straight parallel strings instead of the diagonal-crossed ones of a contemporary piano. The wooden soundboard veins go in different directions. The bridges, ribs and bracings are specially designed and the hammers and strings have been repositioned.

Barenboim, currently heading Berlin’s flagship opera house, the State Opera, said he intended to perform the entire series on the new piano.

Modern pianos have become highly standardised, with few changes to their fundamental design over the past 100 years.

They are largely cross-strung, with the bass strings crossing over the middle and treble strings in an “X” pattern, allowing the sound to be concentrated on the centre of the soundboard.

He developed his idea with Belgian instrument maker Chris Maene, with support from Steinway & Sons.

via A different music from this piano.

As well as the straight strings, the Barenboim-Maene piano features a double bridge and horizontal soundboard veins.

According to a press release, the piano “combines the touch, stability, and power of a modern piano with the transparent sound quality and distinguishable colour registers of more historic instruments”.

Pianist Gwendolyn Mok, who plays an 1875 straight-strung Erard piano, has said that such instruments possess superior clarity.

“If you look inside your own piano, you will notice that the strings are all crossing each other,” she told the San Francisco Examiner in 2013.

“With the straight strung piano you get distinct registral differences – almost like listening to a choir where you have the bass, tenor, alto, and soprano voices.

“It is very clear and there is no blending or homogenizing of the sound. It therefore gives you huge opportunities in experimenting with colour.”

Via http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-32885683

How Steinway Pianos are Made

The making of a Steinway piano is a time-honored process involving the hands of many skilled craftspeople over the course of almost a full year. Steinway & Sons pianos are built in just two factories worldwide – one in Astoria, NY and one in Hamburg, Germany.

Both factories have been building pianos for well over a century, and although Steinway has always been at the cutting edge in utilizing and perfecting the latest technology where it could make the piano better, we have found that certain things are simply better when done by skilled craftspeople than by a machine.

For that reason, many parts of the process in building a Steinway have remained essentially unchanged for generations. So much so, that they were able to take decades-old audio from a narrated factory tour by the late John H. Steinway (great-grandson of Henry E. Steinway, who founded our great company in 1853) and use it as the narration for footage shot at the Steinway NY factory in 2011 by Ben Niles, producer of the documentary film “Note by Note” (http://www.notebynotethemovie.com).

Enjoy this look inside the Steinway New York factory, narrated in detail by the late, great John Steinway.

To learn more about Steinway & Sons, visit http://www.steinway.com.

How Steinway Pianos are Made

The making of a Steinway piano is a time-honored process involving the hands of many skilled craftspeople over the course of almost a full year. Steinway & Sons pianos are built in just two factories worldwide – one in Astoria, NY and one in Hamburg, Germany. Both factories have been building pianos for well over a century, and although Steinway has always been at the cutting edge in utilizing and perfecting the latest technology where it could make the piano better, we have found that certain things are simply better when done by skilled craftspeople than by a machine. For that reason, many parts of the process in building a Steinway have remained essentially unchanged for generations. So much so, that we were able to take decades-old audio from a narrated factory tour by the late John H. Steinway (great-grandson of Henry E. Steinway, who founded our great company in 1853) and use it as the narration for footage shot at the Steinway NY factory in 2011 by Ben Niles, producer of the documentary film “Note by Note” (http://www.notebynotethemovie.com).

Enjoy this look inside the Steinway New York factory, narrated in detail by the late, great John Steinway.

To learn more about Steinway & Sons, visit http://www.steinway.com.

 

Piano Pedaling

piano-pedal-diagram

These are some examples of pedal marks in piano music:

piano-pedal-music

An older style of pedalling. The symbols can be between or below the staves.

 

piano-pedal-music2

This type of pedalling is more commonly used today.

 

piano-pedal-music3

Another type of pedalling

Pedals on a grand piano:

piano-pedal

There are two standard foot pedals on the piano: on the left side is the una corda pedal and on the right side is the sustain (damper) pedal.

The middle sostenuto pedal is only standard on the American grand piano, and is very rarely used.

With pedals, the pianist can add resonance and color to the music and thereby bring out its inherent emotion. At the same time, over-pedaling or improper pedaling can drown the listener and the performer in a miasma of overlapping sounds.

Anton Rubinstein, renowned pianist of the late nineteenth century, said that the rightmost pedal is the very soul of the instrument.  His book, The Art of Piano Pedaling: Two Classic Guides, is still in print.

This pedal has various names. It is sometimes called the damper pedal (because it lifts all the dampers inside the piano), or the forte pedal (because the result of lifting all the dampers is a fuller sound), or the tre corde pedal (because it allows the three strings of each key to vibrate), or the sustaining pedal (because when you depress it the note will continue to sound even if you take your fingers off the keys).

Damper Pedaling Guidelines

Here are some guidelines pedaling. As with everything in art, they can be ignored under certain circumstances.

  1. Avoid pedaling notes that move in a stepwise or scalar pattern. Adjacent notes are dissonant, and when pedaled, they sound smudged.
  2. Do pedal notes that skip and form a nice harmony.
  3. Change your pedal (i.e., lift it up and put it down again) at each change of harmony.
  4. Avoid pedaling through rests (i.e., silence), at ends of phrases (at which point we would need to breathe and that split second of silence takes care of that), or staccato notes—although this is commonly ignored, because we actually can hear the disconnection through the pedal. This is why we do not depend on the pedal to achieve a beautiful legato.
  5. Keep your heel planted firmly on the floor, and pedal with either toes or the ball of foot, depending on your shoe size.

There are several manipulations possible with the damper pedal, each affecting the sound slightly differently.

Syncopated Pedaling

For the cleanest sound, the syncopated (or legato) pedal will give you the most control.  This is an action where the foot is put down immediately after the note is played. This may take some getting used to, but you can practice it by playing a C scale.

  1. Play C, and then lower the damper pedal.
  2. Hold the pedal down until you are just about ready to play the D.
  3. As the D’s finger goes down, the foot goes up, and then down again immediately after the D is struck.

The sound is clean. Continue up the scale the same way.

As an experiment, try putting the pedal down as you play a note, and notice the difference in the sound. Since the damper pedal lifts all the dampers, when you strike the D, not only are the three strings of that note free to vibrate but so do all the other strings vibrate sympathetically. You have a sound that is full of overtones.

There are times when you will want that effect and so will keep your foot down until the accumulated sound needs to breathe.

You can practice the syncopated pedal away from the piano by sitting on the bench or a chair and lifting your right knee at exactly the same time as your right hand goes down to tap the rising knee. This is the same action at the keyboard. The foot goes up when the hand goes down and then returns to the pedal.

Partial Pedals

There are half and quarter pedals too, which are used when you don’t want full vibrato. Rather than depressing the pedal all the way down, you lower your foot halfway so that the dampers are lifted only slightly off the strings, without allowing them to vibrate fully.

The quarter pedal gives even just a hint of pedal. It will take a while to feel these various distances on your piano. Also, you will find that each piano has its own pedal feel, which you must get used to before attempting to perform on that instrument.

Flutter Pedal

Then there are times, usually in scale passages, where touches of pedal can be very appealing and then the foot goes up and down rapidly and shallowly, and that is called the “flutter” pedal.

Choosing the Pedaling

The different types of damper pedaling techniques are for you, the pianist, to decide. But what determines which choice you will make?

Two things will control that: your very important ear, and your understanding of the music—the composer and the era in which the music was composed.

Your pedaling approach following the composer’s style depends on your knowledge of what instruments were available during the composer’s lifetime and how the pedal or lack of pedals would have made the music sound. This way, your interpretation will have authenticity.


Position of the Sustain Pedal:

Right pedal

The Sustain Pedal is Played With:

Right foot

Also Called:

Damper pedal, forte pedal, loud pedal

Effects of the Sustain Pedal:

The sustain pedal allows all of the notes on the piano to resonate after the keys have been lifted, for as long as the pedal is depressed. It creates a legato effect, forcing all of the notes to echo and overlap.

History of the Sustain Pedal:

The sustain pedal was originally operated by hand, and an assistant was required to operate it until the knee lever was created. The creators of the sustain foot pedal are unknown, but it is believed to have been invented around the mid-1700s.

Use of the sustain was uncommon until the Romantic Period, but is now the most commonly used piano pedal.

How the Sustain Pedal Works:

The sustain pedal lifts the dampers off of the strings, allowing them to vibrate until the pedal is released.

Sustain Pedal Marks:

In piano notation, use of the sustain pedal begins with Ped., and ends with a large asterisk.

Variable pedal marks, seen as __/\_/\__, are placed under notes, and define the precise pattern in which the sustain pedal is depressed and released.

    • Horizontal lines show when the sustain pedal is depressed.
  • Diagonal lines indicate a quick, temporary release of the sustain pedal.

 


Position of the Una Corda Pedal:

Left pedal

The Una Corda is Played With:

Left foot

Also Called:

Soft pedal, “piano” pedal

Effects of the Una Corda Pedal:

The una corda pedal is used to enhance the timbre of softly played notes, and exaggerate a low volume. The soft pedal should be used with notes that are already played softly, and will not produce the desired effect on louder notes.

History of the Una Corda Pedal:

The una corda was the first mechanism to modify the piano’s sound, and was originally operated by hand. It was invented in 1722 by Bartolomeo Cristofori, and quickly became a standard addition to the piano.

How the Una Corda Pedal Works:

Most treble keys are attached to two or three strings. The una corda shifts the strings so that the hammers only strike one or two of them, creating a softened sound.

Some bass keys are only attached to one string. In this case, the pedal creates a shift so that the hammer strikes on a lesser-used portion of the string.

Una Corda Pedal Marks:

In piano notation, use of the soft pedal begins with the words una corda (meaning “one string”), and is released by the words tre corde (meaning “three strings”).

Interesting Facts About the Una Corda Pedal:

  • Most upright pianos use a “piano” pedal instead of a true una corda pedal. The piano pedal moves the hammers closer to the strings, preventing them from striking with full force

 


Position of the Sostenuto Pedal:

Usually the middle pedal, but is often omitted.

The Sostenuto is Played With:

Right foot

Originally Called:

Tone-sustaining pedal

Effects of the Sostenuto Pedal:

The sostenuto pedal allows certain notes to be sustained while other notes on the keyboard are unaffected. It is used by hitting the desired notes, then depressing the pedal. The selected notes will resonate until the pedal is released. This way, sustained notes can be heard alongside notes played with a staccato effect.

History of the Sostenuto Pedal:

The sostenuto pedal was the last addition to the modern piano. Boisselot & Sons first showcased it in 1844, but the pedal didn’t gain popularity until Steinway patented it in 1874. Today, it’s primarily found on American grand pianos, but is not considered a standard addition since it is very rarely used.

How the Sostenuto Pedal Works:

When the sostenuto pedal is depressed, it keeps the dampers off the selected strings, allowing them to resonate while the rest of the keys’ dampers remain down.

Sostenuto Pedal Marks:

In piano music, use of the sostenuto pedal begins with Sost. Ped., and ends with a large asterisk. Notes meant to be sustained are sometimes marked by hollow, diamond-shaped notes, but there are no strict rules for this pedal since it is hardly ever used.

Interesting Facts About the Sostenuto Pedal:

    • Sostenuto is Italian for “sustaining,” although this incorrectly describes the pedal’s function.
    • On some pianos, the sostenuto pedal only affects the bass notes.
    • The middle pedal is sometimes built as a “practice rail” pedal instead of a sostenuto. A practice rail muffles notes with felt dampers, allowing for quiet play.
  • Sostenuto pedal markings are rarely seen in sheet music, but can be found in the works of Claude Debussy.

 

November 17 ~ Today in Music

today

 

• 1726 ~ The first performance of J. S. Bach‘s Sacred Cantata No. 55 Ich armer Mensch, ich Sündenknecht on the 22nd Sunday following Trinity. Was part of Bach’s third annual Sacred Cantata cycle in Leipzig 1725-27

 

• 1848 ~ Frederic Chopin played his final piano concert at a Polish benefit ball at Guildhall in London.

• 1850 ~ Giuseppe Verdi‘s opera Stifellio was first performed at the Teatro Grande in Trieste despite difficulties with the censors which resulted in cuts and changes.

 

• 1861 ~ First Performance of Johannes Brahms‘ Piano Quintet No. 1 in g, Op. 25, at a rehearsal in Hamburg, with pianist Clara Schumann.

• 1862 ~ The work noted above received its official premiere with members of the Hellmesberger Quartet; Brahms at the piano, in Vienna.

• 1870 ~ Birth of Australian composer Alfred Hill in Melbourne. d-Sydney, 30 OCT 1960.

• 1876~ The first performance of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky‘s March Slav in Moscow.

• 1877 ~ The first production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s opera, The Sorcerer, was presented, in London.

• 1888~ The first production of Tchaikovsky‘s Fifth Symphony in St. Petersburg.

• 1891 ~ Poland’s premier and premier ivory tickler, Ignace Jan Paderewski, made his American debut at Carnegie Hall in New York City. In later years, Paderewski, who suffered from arthritis, settled in Paso Robles, CA. The hot mineral baths located there eased his pain. He played only Steinway grand pianos custom-built to his specifications. In fact, five were made just for his use.

• 1925 ~ Sir Charles Mackerras, Australian conductor

• 1930 ~ David Amram, American composer and French-horn player

• 1938 ~ Gordon Lightfoot, Canadian folk singer, songwriter and guitarist

• 1938 ~ Orchestra leader Kay Kyser, speaking to an audience at the College of the City of New York (CCNY) told of the “inner workings and artistic features of swing music.” It marked the first of a series of lectures on swing music presented by Kyser, who went on to presentThe Kollege of Musical Knowledge on radio.

• 1941 ~ Gene Clark, Singer, guitar with The Byrds

• 1942 ~ Bob Gaudio, Singer with The Royal Teens; The Four Seasons

• 1946 ~ Martin Barre, Guitarist with Jethro Tull

• 1950 ~ Roberta Peters filled in for the lead in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, making her debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. She would become one of the Met’s most famous stars.

• 1962 ~ The 4 Seasons, with Frankie Valli as lead singer, began a five-week run at the top of the tunedex with Big Girls Don’t Cry.

• 1967 ~ Ronald DeVoe, Singer with New Edition

• 1970 ~ Elton John recorded an album live, on what was WABC-FM in New York City. It marked the first time that a concert was aired live and recorded for release as aired. The LP was titled, 11/17/70.

• 1981 ~ Bob Eberly died

• 2001 ~ Jerry Jerome, a tenor sax player who was a featured soloist with the bands of Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman, died of leukemia. He was 89. One of the big names in the Big Band era, Jerome was a featured soloist with the Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Red Norvo and Artie Shaw orchestras. He then became a successful musical director and conductor on radio and television. Jerome also established a music business, scoring and arranging commercial jingles. Three years ago, Arbors Records released Jerome’s “Something Old, Something New.” The sequel recording, “Something Borrowed, Something Blue,” will be released in December. Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., Jerome started playing the sax while in high school. He attended the University of Alabama and went on the medical school, playing gigs at jazz clubs to earn tuition money. He joined Goodman’s orchestra at the height of its popularity in 1938. When Goodman broke up his band in 1940, Jerome joined Shaw. While with Shaw, he appeared in the film “Second Chorus,” with Fred Astaire and Burgess Meredith.

• 2003 ~ Arthur Conley, a 1960s soul singer and protege of Otis Redding’s, died at his home in the town of Ruurlo, in the eastern Netherlands. He was 57. Conley was born in Atlanta and started his recording career in 1959 as leader of the group Arthur and the Corvets. He was best known for his 1967 hit, Sweet Soul Music, which he co-wrote with Redding based on a number by Sam Cooke. Conley had several minor hits in the following two years. He moved to Europe in the early 1970s after several tours of the continent, deciding that he was “fed up with the pressure” in the United States, said Giesen. In the Netherlands, Conley appeared on television and radio, and ran an independent record label. In the last five years he was an adviser to The Original Sixties R&B and Soul Show, which sought to reproduce the sound and look of the heyday of soul.

Adapted from http://www.oconnormusic.org/month-nov.htm