Rubato

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novice
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Rubato

Post by novice » Thu Feb 01, 2018 3:27 am

Hello, Fellow Travelers,

I'm working on Una Limosna For El Amor de Dios. My teacher, whose version is the best I've heard, was kind enough to let me record him employing varying degrees of rubato in different parts. I am getting there as far as copying his phrases, but am feeling rather lackluster when it comes to generalizing the technique.

Any analysis or pointers to past masters' exegeses, especially with regard to application of rubato within the context of a tremolo piece like this, would be greatly appreciated.

Mille grazie,
Jason

Rasputin
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Re: Rubato

Post by Rasputin » Thu Feb 01, 2018 11:23 am

I'm not aware of any, I must say. I think you just have to listen to a lot of recordings. While I think that, in theory, it would be possible to identify some principles, I doubt this would be practical or useful. If you look at dynamics, people say "if the music is going up, think about whether a crescendo would work", which is OK as long as it isn't elevated into a rule, but is not really very helpful because it is blindingly obvious when these passages call for a crescendo anyway. In that case, at least, we do have the basic concepts to explain the rule, i.e. the concept of an ascending passage and the concept of a crescendo - but when it comes to rubato, I am not sure we do. "Rubato" itself doesn't mean much more than "messing about with the rhythm", so is about as coarse-grained a term as "dynamics". We don't have anything more specific, as far as I'm aware. I expect that Cooper & Meyer are on the right lines in saying that the rubato style is a way of expressing the relative importance of different beats in the hierarchical structure which they describe - but the concept of rhythm as hierarchical, despite being refined by Lerdahl & Jackendoff, doesn't seem to have gained much traction. The upshot is that the concepts you would be likely to need are not common currency, and in any event I think they would need quite a bit more refining. You could spend a lifetime on it and your theory would probably still be too abstract and cumbersome to be of any practical use. Better to try to develop a feel for it and then, if you're interested, try to identify the principles that you are tacitly applying.

That said, I suppose you could diagram the phrase structure of Una limosna and mark the points where rubato can be used successfully - possibly that would be illuminating, as long as you bore in mind that every small phrase is part of a larger phrase and that, if you give too much emphasis to the small phrases, you obscure the longer arcs that are important in any well-written piece. With this in mind, it is not enough just to identify the individual phrases - you also have to know how they fit in to the piece as a whole. This again is a question of structure and hierarchy. Phrases are nested, so whatever system you used to diagram the piece would need to reflect that.

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lagartija
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Re: Rubato

Post by lagartija » Thu Feb 01, 2018 2:41 pm

Sing the melody...live in the piece. When you sing it, or sing along with your favorite interpretation, (over and over and over) you will start to feel the movement in the piece. You will feel when it must move and when it can linger.
You will internalize the flow of the piece ...especially if you know what it is you want to say with the music. Barrios was often very clear this way. :-)
Explore. How does it feel to you?

I sing the pitches as I am counting...as if they were the words to the melody.
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JohnB
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Re: Rubato

Post by JohnB » Thu Feb 01, 2018 4:04 pm

What laragtija says is very good.

Also, listen to recordings by good players - hear how they approach rubato. You won't feel that everything you hear will sound "right" to you - but think of what, to you, works and what doesn't.

Listen to other instruments e.g. piano, violin, cello, etc, etc.

Rubato is a funny old thing - it can easily be over done or employed incorrectly, but when it is done well it just feels "right" and lets the music breath. Also, the subtle use of rubato can be very effective.

Forgive me for referring to the piano but as an illustration in restraint and rubato I always find this slow movement from Schubert's D960 piano sonata fascinating (it is also one of the most beautiful movements for the piano that I know).

Performances by three very great musicians.
There is one version where rubato is used a lot to increase the expression (perhaps needlessly).
Another where it is used less but "micro-rubato" infuses the playing and gives it tension and "life"
Yet another where rubato is used more sparingly and this performance of the movement always makes me cry.

You can just sample the first couple of minutes or so (but the whole movement is wonderful). I'll just give the links - [Edit] now in the same order as above

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sHdYGnlxCu4
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2AIMQ0-zWY
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mPo3PxCO-qU
Last edited by JohnB on Fri Feb 02, 2018 11:46 am, edited 3 times in total.
Hermanos Conde 1968, Stephen Frith 2007 "Guijoso", Christopher Dean 2018, Ana Maria Espinosa 2014

Kevin Cowen
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Re: Rubato

Post by Kevin Cowen » Thu Feb 01, 2018 10:13 pm

You say your teacher plays the best version you've ever heard.
But instead of asking him/her for advice you go to a forum.
Why?

Rognvald
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Re: Rubato

Post by Rognvald » Thu Feb 01, 2018 10:24 pm

Wow . . . many great responses here, Novice. I would only add . . . if you cannot find YOUR VOICE, you'll be doomed to the bowels of Beelzebub for eternal damnation. Be a thief . . . anywhere you can steal . . . do so without remorse. Perhaps, one day, you'll discover your musical nature. Playing again . . . Rognvald P.S. What is the sound of one hand clapping?
"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

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lagartija
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Re: Rubato

Post by lagartija » Thu Feb 01, 2018 10:31 pm

Kevin Cowen wrote:
Thu Feb 01, 2018 10:13 pm
You say your teacher plays the best version you've ever heard.
But instead of asking him/her for advice you go to a forum.
Why?
I know why *I* did such things way back when I started... :mrgreen:
I didn’t want my teacher to think I was a dolt. I wanted to impress him with my progress at my next lesson. The more revered the teacher, the harder I tried. ;-)

Then after a few years I realized that they just see where you are and help you with the biggest obstacle they see in your way at that moment. Now I come to the lesson and say, “there is still something not right here and these are the things I tried to fix it...but I still think there is a problem. Then they show me ways to solve the problem.
When the sun shines, bask.
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Classical Guitar forever!

novice
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Re: Rubato

Post by novice » Fri Feb 02, 2018 3:05 am

Mr Cowen,
I have asked him, and his advice was to copy his phrasing, because he says I have a good ear. I had my bi-weekly lesson today, actually, and I discussed this as wells the fact that I'd asked the forum. His reply was, "perhaps it could be explained, but I don't know what practical value there would be" as he tapped his ear and said, "this."
I have no illusions of hiding my dolt status from him! There's no "instead." There is "all."
Peace,
Jason

novice
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Re: Rubato

Post by novice » Fri Feb 02, 2018 3:12 am

Thank you all.
Lagarjita, especially, the bit about singing is one Maestro keeps insisting upon. We were working on some of the thornier bits of Pujol's Guajira today, where adherence to the rhythm and not flexing it is the key, but still, the admonition was to sing the melody.
Ciao

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lagartija
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Re: Rubato

Post by lagartija » Fri Feb 02, 2018 11:36 am

novice wrote:
Fri Feb 02, 2018 3:12 am
Thank you all.
Lagarjita, especially, the bit about singing is one Maestro keeps insisting upon. We were working on some of the thornier bits of Pujol's Guajira today, where adherence to the rhythm and not flexing it is the key, but still, the admonition was to sing the melody.
Ciao
Glad I could help. :-D
After you become accustomed to singing the melody...then you will also start singing the other voices as well (though obviously not at the same time).
If you sing them in the dynamic and timing you want them to be, you internalize all that and it comes out naturally as you play. This is what my teacher taught me.
When the sun shines, bask.
__/^^^^^o>
Classical Guitar forever!

Joey Grimaldi
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Re: Rubato

Post by Joey Grimaldi » Fri Feb 02, 2018 6:18 pm

Rubato is about push and pull, sometimes if you slow down you also need to speed up to keep your time balanced. Also be deliberate, make sure you control which notes you choose to make rubato. If you add rubato to the end of a phrase make the next downbeat very rhythmic, if you come full force at the end even with a slight acceleration add slight rubato to the downbeat. To much rubato in the wrong place makes a player sound inexperienced and sucks the life out of the rhythm.

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Mark Clifton-Gaultier
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Re: Rubato

Post by Mark Clifton-Gaultier » Fri Feb 02, 2018 8:24 pm

Rognvald wrote:P.S. What is the sound of one hand clapping?
One doesn't experience a sound as such - just the sting as said hand strikes the cheek.

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Andrew Fryer
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Re: Rubato

Post by Andrew Fryer » Fri Feb 02, 2018 11:34 pm

Repeating what others say, I'd a) switch off the metronome and b) feel the piece. Deliberately exaggerate rubato as a way of slowing down for technically difficult passages. Exaggerate the singing, exaggerate everything. It's like slow practice, except that you only play slowly in places.
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BRGTR
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Re: Rubato

Post by BRGTR » Sat Feb 03, 2018 9:54 pm

You might try counting out loud. That'll serve to keep thing from getting too far afield. Also, I find setting my metronome really slow, 20 BPM or so for the entire measure is a good exercise. Try and push and pull the tempo between the clicks. Rubato is fun with tremelo as you can vary the velocity. Berta Rojas plays this nicely, IMO.

JohnB
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Re: Rubato

Post by JohnB » Sun Feb 04, 2018 12:13 am

Just a thought: my experience is that if I repeatedly practise a piece with the same rubato I reach the stage where I can no longer tell what is in tempo and what is rubato (this is probably my personal failing) - so I find its worthwhile to periodically play against a metronome purely as a reality check.

And, of course, different styles of music require different approaches to rubato.
Hermanos Conde 1968, Stephen Frith 2007 "Guijoso", Christopher Dean 2018, Ana Maria Espinosa 2014

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