F. Sor Exercise Op. 35 Nr 14 - Inconsistent notation

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David Norton
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F. Sor Exercise Op. 35 Nr 14 - Inconsistent notation

Post by David Norton » Tue Sep 11, 2018 2:43 am

Having completed the Sor Op. 60 Project, I am looking at other Sor etudes, lessons, exercises, mostly drawn from Opp. 31, 35, or 44.

In Op. 35/14, a rather well-known Exercise despite it's not being in the Segovia 20, once again Sor shows a variance in how he notates a phrase at the beginning, versus when it reappears toward the end of the piece. Two examples here, one highlighted yellow-to-yellow and the other one green-to-green:

Sor 35-14.jpg

Specifically the duration of the open bass A differs one from the other. Moreover, what logical reason could there be in silencing the open A, which serves as the root of the five note A-minor scale being played on the treble strings? The notation seems intentional and consistent, with both recaps of the phrase having a shorter bass duration on the recap. Overall it's all very perplexing to try making sense of it some 175 years after the fact.....
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Re: F. Sor Exercise Op. 35 Nr 14 - Inconsistent notation

Post by musikai » Tue Sep 11, 2018 8:41 am

Oh, and what about the 2 bars on the second page that are exactly above and right to the yellow bar?
Above yellow: There is a fingering 3 on the low A that would only make sense if it would be a C. This would create a nice bass line with the notes before and after.
The bar on the right of yellow: The low E with finger 2 which is centered in the bar is supposed to be played with the first notes of the bar, isn't it?
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Re: F. Sor Exercise Op. 35 Nr 14 - Inconsistent notation

Post by RobMacKillop » Tue Sep 11, 2018 9:03 am

I think when it comes to printed publications, we should always keep in mind that in those pre-computer days, composers would hand the typesetter a hand-scribbled score, which the typesetter would then try to render faithfully. If you, the composer, were lucky, you might get five minutes to look over the whole edition. So, with that in mind, it is possible that Sor initially wrote these passages exactly the same way each time, but was not very clear in his handwriting, and that the sleepy typesetter never checked the recurrence of each bar to see they matched, and maybe the composer (thinks the typesetter) doesn't want them matched anyway. Who knows?

To be honest, David, I'm embarrassed to say I never noticed the changes, though I have played this piece many times, recorded it too.

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Re: F. Sor Exercise Op. 35 Nr 14 - Inconsistent notation

Post by Wuuthrad » Tue Sep 11, 2018 9:15 am

I look at this as to suggest the beginning to be more legato and the last to be more staccato.

If you played this on piano for example the first with sustain and the last with damper.

Makes it more musical to have this variation .
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Re: F. Sor Exercise Op. 35 Nr 14 - Inconsistent notation

Post by RobMacKillop » Tue Sep 11, 2018 9:21 am

Why does it make it "more musical"?

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Re: F. Sor Exercise Op. 35 Nr 14 - Inconsistent notation

Post by Wuuthrad » Tue Sep 11, 2018 9:41 am

RobMacKillop wrote:
Tue Sep 11, 2018 9:21 am
Why does it make it "more musical"?
Poor choice of cliched words perhaps, and thanks for asking!

I suppose to me it means it allows more "musical variation" shall we say, such that the beggining has a more open sonorous quality, and the final rests imply different qualities such as swing or double time, depending on the interpretation of course.

This is a perfect example why I love Sor and always come back to him after everyone else. I think it's because he conveys all the qualities of guitar so well in the studies; accompaniment, melody, harmony, virtuosity, song like structure, and so much more obviously. The simplicity of some studies is often deceptive- to play them really well is always a challenge. There's so much to be said about the space between the notes, and this is an excellent example.

Didn't he write for Opera? Perhaps this is part of the reason why I admire his music so much, I find there are lots of songlike qualites I admire.

Let's not forget that bass line!
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Re: F. Sor Exercise Op. 35 Nr 14 - Inconsistent notation

Post by Wuuthrad » Tue Sep 11, 2018 10:01 am

The rests also predict and convey the change of harmony and different bass in the phrases that follow, giving a sort of tension that is not quite resolved until the final measures, which ends in minor, opposite the first part.

BTW I love this study! It's almost like a wartime death march call to battle. It's quit evocative- I can hear Sor's laments, playing in protest street bands as Napoleon invaded.

Someone needs to make a movie about his life- that's what will bring Classical Guitar to even more popularity!
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Re: F. Sor Exercise Op. 35 Nr 14 - Inconsistent notation

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Tue Sep 11, 2018 10:09 am

There are many inconsistencies in early notation and like Rob I normally blame the production process.

Given the glaring mistakes that do exist (first edition of Op 9 for example) I doubt there was ever any actual proof-reading.

It also comes down to the point I regularly make that compared to other instruments we have woefully few actual handwritten pages by our composers, to cross-check. Following pieces through a couple of editions is often all we can do.
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Re: F. Sor Exercise Op. 35 Nr 14 - Inconsistent notation

Post by Wuuthrad » Tue Sep 11, 2018 10:20 am

I don't really see this as an error? How is it wrong exactly?
If we don't know the original...are we just applying our own preconceptions?

One of mine: I never view notation as a rule anyway, but rather a guide for expressing myself musically and creatively.
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Re: F. Sor Exercise Op. 35 Nr 14 - Inconsistent notation

Post by 2lost2find » Tue Sep 11, 2018 11:39 am

Those kinds of changes in bass note duration happen often enough in Sor's work that I would take it at face value. Could be he wanted to highlight the melody more towards the end; I can think of lots of reasons really. Guitarists have a very bad habit of pretending that rests do not exist, and in some cases that is valid but in a case like this where it would have been less work to simply write a longer note duration I would definitely be inclined to honor the rests.

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Re: F. Sor Exercise Op. 35 Nr 14 - Inconsistent notation

Post by David Norton » Tue Sep 11, 2018 12:21 pm

musikai wrote:
Tue Sep 11, 2018 8:41 am
Oh, and what about the 2 bars on the second page that are exactly above and right to the yellow bar?
Above yellow: There is a fingering 3 on the low A that would only make sense if it would be a C. This would create a nice bass line with the notes before and after.
I had not paid any attention to that, I was focused on the "rest" question! But yes, this now creates the uncertainty of whether the NOTE or the FINGERING is the correct one, as either option works harmonically.
musikai wrote:
Tue Sep 11, 2018 8:41 am
The bar on the right of yellow: The low E with finger 2 which is centered in the bar is supposed to be played with the first notes of the bar, isn't it?
A quirk of 19th century music scores is that whole notes (semibreves) are placed in the center of the bar, rather than the start, for some reason that must have made sense to people at the time.
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Re: F. Sor Exercise Op. 35 Nr 14 - Inconsistent notation

Post by 2lost2find » Tue Sep 11, 2018 1:51 pm

Spent about 30 minutes with the study this morning... it's one I've never played. Nice piece. I'm going to stick to my original assertion that the change in rests are not a printing error. Sor is going for something different as the piece draws to a close. It's not like honoring the rest is a technical imposition, either. Regarding that rogue note, I think the fingering and not the note itself is a misprint. That comes from having played quite a bit of Sor and knowing his style pretty well because either way works, but I think the A is correct.

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Re: F. Sor Exercise Op. 35 Nr 14 - Inconsistent notation

Post by Tony Hyman » Sat Sep 15, 2018 11:44 am

I know this falls very much in Rob's camp having read his thesis on Sor' reluctance in using the "annular" which I really enjoyed reading some back. Regarding this aspect though, I wonder if one should not consider Sor's ratio or reasoning for placing those rests there as a specific requirement or technique as part of his Method which catered for the culture of his time. For instance, Sor was really into trying to inmate other instruments on the guitar a sort of one-man band, as it were if we read his method. Merrick in his translation of Sor's Method in the 1800's quotes Sor's views on "buffing" which I would understand to mean "rests".Therefore considering that Op 35:14 does form part of the Method in question, I believe that those" rests" are written there intentionally if we consider Sor's views on "silences" inferred from this following extract from his method.
"Buffed sounds, or sons étouffés, I rarely employ. I have always too much regretted that there was no method
of giving more sound to the instrument, in order that I might occupy myself with the methods of diminishing it; yet,-
as these sounds, properly employed, may produce a good effect, I have endeavored to distinguish them from the full
sounds: the latter have only the resonance damped, while the former are damped in the very act of moving the string.
To damp or check the sounds, I have never employed the right hand; but I have placed the fingers of the left hand
so as to take the string on the fret which determines the note, pressing it with less forcé than usual, but not so lightly
as to make it yield a harmonious sound. This manner of damping, or buffing, requires great accuracy in the distances,
but produces true suppressed sounds
."Maybe I am reading this into the wrong context,I stand to be corrected obviously.

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Re: F. Sor Exercise Op. 35 Nr 14 - Inconsistent notation

Post by Mark Clifton-Gaultier » Sat Sep 15, 2018 11:53 am

Tony Hyman wrote:Maybe I am reading this into the wrong context,I stand to be corrected obviously.
Yes Tony - you're misinterpreting - what he's talking about here is muted sound as in "pizzicato" or palm muting, which he avoids in favour of semi-fretted notes.

Strangely enough - that was the method that I "invented" for myself before I knew any better how Bream et al achieved those sounds. It works well and can be a useful alternative ... nothing to do with rests however.

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Re: F. Sor Exercise Op. 35 Nr 14 - Inconsistent notation

Post by Tony Hyman » Sat Sep 15, 2018 12:04 pm

Thanks, Mark. I see what you mean.

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