Do you adopt a "lighter" approach for classical period pieces?

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Adrian Allan
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Do you adopt a "lighter" approach for classical period pieces?

Post by Adrian Allan » Sat Jun 24, 2017 12:22 pm

I am speaking from experience on this.

I am currently learning the Paganini Sonata in A major.

I started off playing this piece in quite a strident style, very much on the beat and metronomic, with lots of crescendos on the rising scales, etc. You will see it played on Youtube many times with this approach.

However, I made a conscious decision to approach the whole piece (not just some passages) in a much lighter, rarefied style, with gentle climbs up to the higher notes above the twelfth fret.

Now the whole piece is much more playable, less tense and seems to suit the style a lot better.

I am playing this on a bright spruce guitar, so I am thinking "bright" and "light" throughout my playing.

Do other people adopt "holistic" approaches to pieces and find that it works?

Sometimes in guitar competitions, I find that all the pieces are played on the same "level", if you know what I mean.
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daryl993manggip
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Re: Do you adopt a "lighter" approach for classical period pieces?

Post by daryl993manggip » Wed Jul 05, 2017 12:52 pm

Depends on the piece really. Just like how Mozart and Beethoven would be approached differently, I would approach a Sor piece differently from a Carulli piece, for example.

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Stephen Kenyon
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Re: Do you adopt a "lighter" approach for classical period pieces?

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Wed Jul 05, 2017 1:09 pm

I guess the point is part of the thing of different technical approaches for different styles of repertoire - as the above post, though clearly Sor and Carulli are fairly close in style compared to say Sor and Henze.

Stephen Dodgson (anecdote alert!) used to say that guitarists tend to make everything sound the same, which I think he meant they make everything sound like Tarrega; heavy apoyando everywhere, permanent legato, vibrato when you can and not when you can't.
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Larry McDonald
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Re: Do you adopt a "lighter" approach for classical period pieces?

Post by Larry McDonald » Wed Jul 05, 2017 2:24 pm

Generally yes (with the same appropriate caveats listed above), I try to make the music sound effortless and "light". On some music, say Sor's Op.9 Mozart Variations, this effortlessness is hardly effortless. This piece was one of my longest-practiced projects. I could play the music well enough within a month or two, but it sounded muscled. It was pretty ugly, actually. In time, I visualized "playing like the doily under my musical teacup".

Well, maybe my visualization didn't help much, because it took many years for me to feel comfortable playing this piece in concert, probably because I internalized it without playing in the correct "stile galante" interpretation.
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Adrian Allan
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Re: Do you adopt a "lighter" approach for classical period pieces?

Post by Adrian Allan » Fri Jul 07, 2017 5:21 pm

I also think that playing on period instrument or a modern reproduction gives an insight as well.

Watching some classical pieces being played on the internet, there seems to be too much emphasis on "attack" and not enough on "grace". It might sound like a superficiallly cliched assessment of a musical period, but just a change in approach can have a massive effect on the sound that the player makes.

I'm not too keen on some of the classical repertoire being played on the louder instruments such as a Smallman.
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Todd Tipton
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Re: Do you adopt a "lighter" approach for classical period pieces?

Post by Todd Tipton » Sat Jul 08, 2017 12:58 am

Many times, I am drawn to the use of a capo at the first fret to compliment a lighter sound.
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