Question for those who work on dynamics....which is everyone

Discussions relating to the classical guitar which don't fit elsewhere.
Lsulit
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Question for those who work on dynamics....which is everyone

Post by Lsulit » Sun Nov 12, 2017 3:03 pm

I've always found it a little challenging to work on dynamics and smooth transitioning, etc. It always sounds so abrupt when I do it and wondered if there is such an app that can track this somehow. Unfortunately, I could not find such a thing. So for those who teach classical guitar, practice it or basically any instrument I guess, my question is this....

If there was an app that was essentially a sound meter measuring decibels essentially but geared towards musicians where it can track smooth transitioning of crescendo/decrescendo, pianissimo to fortissimo, etc...essentially a metronome for dynamics, would you use it? I figure can adjust desired loudness or softness and then train yourself to smooth out transitions, etc. Dunno if I'm just alone in this quest to sort of quantitatively improve on some of the more subjective areas of music. Am I crazy?

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bear
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Re: Question for those who work on dynamics....which is everyone

Post by bear » Sun Nov 12, 2017 3:10 pm

Funny how there's always an app for something that once required the use of our brains. I first learned to play by ear, find ONE recording, listen to it and try to match it.
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chiral3
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Re: Question for those who work on dynamics....which is everyone

Post by chiral3 » Sun Nov 12, 2017 3:19 pm

I was having a related discussion with my son's piano teacher a while back. He was really strict about playing dynamics as written. In fact, all of the sheet music in the beginning levels had dynamics. I contended that it seems that, pedagogically, creating a solid foundation in rhythm, various time and key signatures, melody, and reading notes in the bass and treble clefs was smart, as pausing to work on dynamics got in the way of rhythm, meter, and pacing. For example, playing pp resulted in slower playing and ff faster. Or staccato notes turned quarter notes in eighth notes. I think I am of the opinion that, at least for novices and maybe intermediate players, dynamics should be worked on later, or after a piece can be smoothly played in the correct time.
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Rasputin
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Re: Question for those who work on dynamics....which is everyone

Post by Rasputin » Sun Nov 12, 2017 3:31 pm

I wouldn't use it for that purpose, but sometimes it would be useful to get something more objective on chord balance. Listening is always better, but this kind of thing is partly an ear training exercise, so I don't think it is working against that approach.

I'm sure there are apps that will show you a sound pressure graph of a crescendo or whatever.

I don't see how you can leave out dynamics even in the very early stages, because the learner will put them in naturally - possibly without even realising. I think teachers have to help students develop awareness and control from the beginning. Insisting that they do exactly what is written on the score sounds to me like a sensible way of achieving this.

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Andrew Fryer
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Re: Question for those who work on dynamics....which is everyone

Post by Andrew Fryer » Sun Nov 12, 2017 4:06 pm

I think I've probably asked myself these questions but in different words. And I think the answer is that a smooth crescendo is not possible where you are playing fewer notes than perhaps on a piano. Don't think of it as a crescendo but rather as giving each successive note greater emphasis and expression? Yet again it may be a case of, practise it slowly.
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Mark Clifton-Gaultier
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Re: Question for those who work on dynamics....which is everyone

Post by Mark Clifton-Gaultier » Sun Nov 12, 2017 4:51 pm

Lsulit wrote:If there was an app that was essentially a sound meter measuring decibels essentially but geared towards musicians where it can track smooth transitioning of crescendo/decrescendo, pianissimo to fortissimo, etc...essentially a metronome for dynamics, would you use it?
No ...

... but, to put that in perspective, I actively discourage the use of the metronome too. I know that there are other educators here (at least one of whom is especially thoughtful and worthy of respect) who believe the opposite.
chiral3 wrote:I was having a related discussion with my son's piano teacher ... I think I am of the opinion that, at least for novices and maybe intermediate players, dynamics should be worked on later, or after a piece can be smoothly played in the correct time.
I teach dynamic control and varied articulation from the very first exercises using a single note. In my experience problems such as inadvertent acceleration related to an increase in volume are much easier to deal with (or usually avoid altogether) if the student has internalised these elements early and independently.

chiral3
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Re: Question for those who work on dynamics....which is everyone

Post by chiral3 » Sun Nov 12, 2017 5:14 pm

chiral3 wrote:I was having a related discussion with my son's piano teacher ... I think I am of the opinion that, at least for novices and maybe intermediate players, dynamics should be worked on later, or after a piece can be smoothly played in the correct time.
Mark Clifton-Gaultier wrote: I teach dynamic control and varied articulation from the very first exercises using a single note. In my experience problems such as inadvertent acceleration related to an increase in volume are much easier to deal with (or usually avoid altogether) if the student has internalised these elements early and independently.
I assume I am in the minority with this one, but your point about teaching this from learning the first note would address the issue. Problem is, how often does a teacher get to be there for the first note? In terms of internalizing - at least with my son, we sit with the sheet music and read and talk about the dynamics separately, before incorporating. We also carve time out for listening to recordings or performances of the music where we discuss dynamics. His teacher also started to do this with him at my request. I suppose this would be defined as incorporating dynamics serially as opposed to in parallel. We do this elsewhere in music, though. A similar thing happens with learning the notes. Some teachers would say play the notes slowly with the correct rhythm from the beginning rather than learning the notes then nailing the rhythm. I am in this camp because I believe that the notes get preferential treatment over rhythm for everyone except drummers. I would say the norm is that one learns notes, then rhythm, then dynamics. Learning notes and rhythm, then dynamics, is what I allude to above. Notes and rhythm and dynamics could be too much parallel processing for the beginning brain, your method being the exception. Back to dynamics, I suspect (in a hand waiving empirically factual way) that when I hear a particularly rough and rubatosized version of Un dia de Noviembre or Lagrima that it's related to the lack of this foundation, i.e., the player is not hearing that they change the rhythm and meter because they are so focused on dynamics.
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Kevin Cowen
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Re: Question for those who work on dynamics....which is everyone

Post by Kevin Cowen » Sun Nov 12, 2017 9:20 pm

Lsulit wrote:
Sun Nov 12, 2017 3:03 pm
I've always found it a little challenging to work on dynamics and smooth transitioning, etc. It always sounds so abrupt when I do it and wondered if there is such an app that can track this somehow. Unfortunately, I could not find such a thing. So for those who teach classical guitar, practice it or basically any instrument I guess, my question is this....

If there was an app that was essentially a sound meter measuring decibels essentially but geared towards musicians where it can track smooth transitioning of crescendo/decrescendo, pianissimo to fortissimo, etc...essentially a metronome for dynamics, would you use it? I figure can adjust desired loudness or softness and then train yourself to smooth out transitions, etc. Dunno if I'm just alone in this quest to sort of quantitatively improve on some of the more subjective areas of music. Am I crazy?
You are crazy. Or very bored. One or the other.

msa3psu
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Re: Question for those who work on dynamics....which is everyone

Post by msa3psu » Mon Nov 13, 2017 4:50 pm

No, I wouldn't use the app. I think that there are too many things going on with dynamic control besides smoothness of sound intensity increase or decrease and for this reason it must be left to ones ear to judge effectiveness. I introduce dynamics to my students initially for tone control issues and not directly for dynamics as musical expression. I find that getting them to play extremely loud or soft puts great demands on the mechanics of producing good tone and that this calls for a careful application of the best use of both hands. For example, producing a clear bell like tone when playing softly with free stroke requires a perfect placement of the finger tip/nail and a carefully controlled little push into the string from the knuckle joint. Of course this is normally required technique but we often get away with less than perfect at normal dynamics but not when playing softly.

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