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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000432.txt from 1999/04

From: Martin Pergler <pergler@-----.edu>
Subj: Re: [kl] Bells up in Mahler
Date: Wed, 7 Apr 1999 21:01:57 -0400

On Wed, 7 Apr 1999, Phil Shapiro wrote:
> Martin,
> I'm glad you had the chance to play such a great piece.  Yes, it is
> exciting!  And the choreography of  "The Dancing Bells" may have made it
> more fun/special for you.  If so, then it was worthwhile.

Thanks. Many aspects of the piece made is fun and special :)

> However, I seriously doubt that the visual effect, while powerful enough
> to be noticed by 'several' people, is worth the trouble. 
[...]
> And, as your own informal poll showed, there is no appreciable effect on
> the sound. [...]

Actually, the only thing I think can be concluded from my poll is
that some people *do* perceive an effect, whether real or imagined,
and a not insignificant fraction either (2 of 5). Being facetious, I
wonder how many of the 5 would have noticed if I played a wrong
note?

> But as you said, you enjoyed it and that's all that matters really.  So
> you continue to raise bells if the spirit moves you, and  I will still
> ignore this marking (pigheaded conductors notwithstanding).  We'll both
> be happy and Mahler won't suffer either way.

Yes. I enjoyed it and so did the audience, and hopefully so did the
spirit of Mahler (my facetious version of performing the music well
in an abstract sense, whatever that means). All 3 matter, of course.
Hope you enjoy all your playing as well---and no offense taken or
criticism implied by my posting back!

To summarize, the reasons to do "bells up" are (I feel)
1) Mahler asked for it
2) It might make a difference in the sound, unclear how much.
(i.e., there in argument which makes it possible/plausible
that there would be a difference in sound)
3) Some audience members will feel it makes a difference in sound,
whether or not it actually does.
4) visual effect

(I think some people took my bringing up of 4) in a previous message
as implying I thought that was the principal reason. I don't, but I
do think it is _a_ reason.)

The reasons not to play bells up are
A) it's "unpleasant" to do
B) more difficult to play in tune/play well.
C) some people are convinced the sound *doesn't* change
D) the markings are sometimes poorly or incompletely thought out

I don't think much of A) on its own, and I find 3) more important
than C). B) is an issue. We spent some (not much) precious sectional
time figuring out how to play in tune with bells up. Would we have
played a better performance working on something else in that time?
I don't know. D) has to be dealt with, but "don't do bells up at
all" seems a drastic response to it!

I think this is a bit like playing parts on the "right" instrument
(A/Bb even C), which has been discussed on this board many times.

>
> Happy Tooting!
>

Likewise, Martin

--
Martin Pergler pergler@-----.edu
Grad student, Mathematics http://www.math.uchicago.edu/~pergler
Univ. of Chicago

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