Do guitarists know what "dynamics" are???

Discussions relating to the classical guitar which don't fit elsewhere.
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Cloth Ears
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Re: Do guitarists know what "dynamics" are???

Post by Cloth Ears » Wed Oct 11, 2017 10:24 am

You need to source better scores. As many here have pointed out, guitar music is full of dynamic markings. Furthermore like a woodwind instrument where you have direct control over the wave produced, a guitar player touches the strings and can produce a great range of dynamics.

The Spanish use the verb 'Tocar' (to touch) rather than 'Jugar' (to play) to describe interacting with stringed instruments for good reason.

Pianists may be able to pppp or ffff, but can they add the nuances that someone who has more direct contact with the waves?

My advice is listen to some of the top flamenco guitarists out there and then ask whether you think the title of this post is just a bit provocative? Flamenco dynamics may not often find their way onto the score, but they could show a 'professional woodwind player' a thing or two about dynamics.

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Michael.N.
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Re: Do guitarists know what "dynamics" are???

Post by Michael.N. » Wed Oct 11, 2017 10:29 am

No but pianists think that they can. :wink: The hammer on a piano is 'released', you can control the speed of the hammer, that's it. At least that's my understanding.
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Stephen Kenyon
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Re: Do guitarists know what "dynamics" are???

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Wed Oct 11, 2017 12:55 pm

sal wrote:
Wed Oct 11, 2017 3:38 am
...
Twenty Sor studies-Segovia. Many of the pieces have no dynamics, except hairpins. Some have a dynamic mark only at the beginning of the piece.....
Those are all editorial, e.g. Segovia not Sor.

I'd say there are a couple of things going on here. Firstly, the happenstance of owning particular scores. An urtext complete Sor studies has precisely zero dynamics, most contemporary renaissance and baroque books the same. Many perhaps most contemporary compositions will have markings.

Secondly, I'd widen the question to that of articulation and phrase markings. Your wind parts are probably liberally supplied with both, phrases perhaps coinciding with breathing places, staccato, staccatissimo, tenuto, accent etc; and yet they will be far rarer in your guitar collection; without looking I can think of 8 staccato marks in the complete Sor studies, and its a question whether they mean staccato at all.

Its all part of the thing that historically composers and players have behaved as if the guitar is an instrument apart, that works differently and is subject to different musical values, to the mainstream wind, vocal, string, and keyboard instruments. And that includes composers like Sor who were competent in at least some of the latter departments, and even though some, like Sor, actually did their best to compose and teach according to the kinds of values that pertain in that bigger world.
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Paul Janssen
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Re: Do guitarists know what "dynamics" are???

Post by Paul Janssen » Wed Oct 11, 2017 1:04 pm

Sal, I don't think you are being provocative with your question. You have every right to ask a question like this especially given your background as a woodwind player.

As a few others have said, i think it depends on the edition of the music. For example, My Cacassi opus 60 is the Schott edition. A quick flick through and I can see dynamic markings on all 25 studies. As you have pointed out yourself, Leo Bouer's Etude sincillos has lots of dynamic markings (look at Study 1 and you will see the entire study is pretty much a study on the use of strong dynamic contrasts betweend phrases). And I know from experience that the Australian Music Examination Board (AMEB) syllabus books show dynamic markings even in the early grades.

One disadvantage that we have as guitarists is that once we play a note we have no control over its decay. Woodwind players are in the fortunate position that you can control the dynamics of a note whilst you are holding it. Perhaps it is for this reason that dynamic markings feature more readily on woodwind music?

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Re: Do guitarists know what "dynamics" are???

Post by John Stone » Wed Oct 11, 2017 2:28 pm

George Crocket wrote:
Wed Oct 11, 2017 7:07 am
A couple of points.

Firstly, dynamics and projection are not the same thing. Plenty of dynamic range is possible with guitar and I am sure this contributes to the appreciation of the sound of classical guitar music. Projection, however, is to do with being heard in performance.
Yes, of course projection and dynamics are different. However, the louder you can play, the wider your possible dynamic range. That was my point.
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Re: Do guitarists know what "dynamics" are???

Post by Dirck Nagy » Wed Oct 11, 2017 2:57 pm

Cloth Ears wrote:
Wed Oct 11, 2017 10:24 am
...
Pianists may be able to pppp or ffff, but can they add the nuances that someone who has more direct contact with the waves?
...
Michael.N. wrote:
Wed Oct 11, 2017 10:29 am
No but pianists think that they can. :wink: The hammer on a piano is 'released', you can control the speed of the hammer, that's it. At least that's my understanding.
Well...sort of. You're right, you can control the speed of the hammer, but you can also control the release (dampers) a bit by pedaling; you can even "half-pedal". Its more than just "on" or "off".
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A.Arcese
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Re: Do guitarists know what "dynamics" are???

Post by A.Arcese » Wed Oct 11, 2017 3:23 pm

Speaking as a pianist: the piano has a great deal of expressive range. It is a different instrument from guitar, with different possibilities. Each instrument type has its strengths and weaknesses.

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Tomzooki
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Re: Do guitarists know what "dynamics" are???

Post by Tomzooki » Wed Oct 11, 2017 3:41 pm

bear wrote:
Wed Oct 11, 2017 12:48 am
no, we're all a bunch of idiots.
BTW I have woodwind scores with no dynamics.
:bravo:
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Andrew Fryer
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Re: Do guitarists know what "dynamics" are???

Post by Andrew Fryer » Wed Oct 11, 2017 3:47 pm

Speaking as an ex oboist/pianist, I find it an interesting question, as professional performers (even of Bream's stature) often seem to have no regard for the dynamics when they are printed.
I don't have a problem with the limited dynamic range of the guitar. On the whole, I say, to hell with dynamics: -
The piano originally only played loud soft, forte-piano. And that's all you need really for personal expression, which should take the place of excessive dynamic markings. The romantic era created a lot of myths we still adhere to - that poetry should soak into your pores and make you swoon, and the big post-industrial Wagnerian orchestra with its dynamic range of ppppp to fffff created the illusion that music was limited if it wasn't capable of that. Play loud when the mood takes you, don't when it doesn't.
Last edited by Andrew Fryer on Wed Oct 11, 2017 3:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Tomzooki
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Re: Do guitarists know what "dynamics" are???

Post by Tomzooki » Wed Oct 11, 2017 3:51 pm

It is just normal you don’t see dynamics in a baroque music book, the original publications did not have any, no matter for which instrument it was written. It is normal for 19th century music to have tons of written dynamics, and guitar music is no exception - please take a look to Sor, Giuliani, Mertz pieces. In baroque music it depends; rather rare with Bach, non-existant in lute tablature (though I am sure there is exceptions), but plentiful with Marin Marais. It is not a matter of instrument, but of epoque, style, country, even composer
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Andrew Fryer
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Re: Do guitarists know what "dynamics" are???

Post by Andrew Fryer » Wed Oct 11, 2017 3:55 pm

Tomzooki wrote:
Wed Oct 11, 2017 3:51 pm
It is just normal you don’t see dynamics in a baroque music book, the original publications did not have any, no matter for which instrument it was written.
Ditto for all the ornamentation.
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Re: Do guitarists know what "dynamics" are???

Post by Andrew Pohlman » Wed Oct 11, 2017 5:52 pm

Lovemyguitar wrote:
Wed Oct 11, 2017 2:26 am
I have no idea what music books you are using, but of the numerous scores currently on my music stand, published between 1926 and 2014 (so, obviously including "older" guitar music), each and every one has dynamic markings (and they were all originally written for guitar, as well). So, yes, in answer to your sanctimonious question, guitarists do, in fact, know what dynamics are.
^^^^ That. There are dynamics marking a all over my scores. You got gypped if your have none. :D
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Re: Do guitarists know what "dynamics" are???

Post by WilliamSchart » Wed Oct 11, 2017 6:07 pm

I would think the lack of dynamic markings would tend to indicate not a lack of knowledge of dynamics, but rather an understanding of dynamics and how to use them. Even scores which do have dynamic markings, they aren’t necessarily on every bar, so there may be some room here for interpretation.

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Re: Do guitarists know what "dynamics" are???

Post by sal » Wed Oct 11, 2017 6:16 pm

Paul Janssen wrote:
Wed Oct 11, 2017 1:04 pm


One disadvantage that we have as guitarists is that once we play a note we have no control over its decay. Woodwind players are in the fortunate position that you can control the dynamics of a note whilst you are holding it. Perhaps it is for this reason that dynamic markings feature more readily on woodwind music?
One of my past teachers would often have me "play a cadenza on a whole note", which involved dynamic change, tonal, intensity and color changes all on a single long note. Thinking back, it was a great exercise. Im going to start applying it to my guitar practice. :)

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Re: Do guitarists know what "dynamics" are???

Post by CathyCate » Wed Oct 11, 2017 7:12 pm

Sal,
You are on the right track. My favorite guitarists can employ a full dynamic range on command. It comes with musicianship. Whether or not it is in the score is of little consequence. Play on, soft, loud and at all points in between to the best of your ability.
You will enjoy yourself more and so will your listeners.

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