Klarinet Archive - Posting 000346.txt from 2005/04
From: ormo2ndtoby@-----.net (Ormondtoby Montoya)
Subj: RE: [kl] Dan's non-Partita
Date: Fri, 22 Apr 2005 10:19:47 -0400
For me, the *real* lesson to be learned from this very interesting
discussion has been that you cannot define a musical term without
including a complete context of history and cultural background.
Not only has the meaning of "partita" varied over the centuries, but
even during the same decade its meaning was different in Viennese
musical culture vs. German circles, etc.
Although this may seem like an obvious comment, it is not obvious or
instinctual or automatic to those of us who are accustomed to thinking
in terms of physical or mathematical measurement --- such as the meaning
of "meter" or "degree" as taken from measuring stick or thermometer.
Yes, physical and mathematical definitions have changed as technology
has changed (and sometimes even as religion has changed), but in general
we consider a physical definition to be a constant --- whereas musical
definitions are always attached to particular cultures, eras, genres of
This should be obvious (although it's easy for some of us to forget)
because music is primarily a process of **creative personal expression**
rather than a physical measurement. Since no two individuals share
any personal quality precisely in common (one size does not fit all),
good dictionaries do not limit themselves to a simple one-sentence
It's an obvious lesson, but it's not an easy lesson (for some of us) to
truly absorb. I was quite frustrated when I first went to a music
store, and I saw the two metronomes did not agree on how many
beats/minute there are in "moderato". Which one was wrong?
Later I learned that Beethoven argued with somebody in his letters
whether (if I remember correctly) "larghetto" is faster or slower than
"largo", and I learned that modern-day musicians *still* have their own
personal feelings about the beats/minute definitions of various tempos.
By the way, when I browsed my own CD collection, I discovered that an
American composer named Irving Fine wrote "Partita" (the complete title
was simply "Partita") in 1948. It was the "outdoor wind music" variety
of partita with five wind instruments. Mr. Fine was a music professor,
and he felt that he was writing within the confines of musical tradition
rather than breaking new ground. He wrote:
"Described in general terms, the Partita is a set of free variations,
although only the second movement bears any marked resemblance to the
formal and tonal scheme of...."
The details of his personal definition show only how personal and how
attached to a particular tradition his "partita' is.
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