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 meaning of "decomposez" in Jeanjean etudes
Author: PeterinToronto 2017
Date:   2021-10-06 02:12

Hi everyone,

Does anyone know what this means? For example, in Study No.1 of the Jeanjean 18 Etudes?

Thanks a lot,

Peter Stoll
Univ.of Toronto

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 Re: meaning of "decomposez" in Jeanjean etudes
Author: farabout 
Date:   2021-10-06 02:36

Divide (et impera)

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 Re: meaning of "decomposez" in Jeanjean etudes
Author: PeterinToronto 2017
Date:   2021-10-06 03:11

Awesome, thanks a lot!! That one has bothered me for 10+ years...appreciate it!

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 Re: meaning of "decomposez" in Jeanjean etudes
Author: rmk54 
Date:   2021-10-06 19:11

"Subdivide" would be the most common English translation.

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 Re: meaning of "decomposez" in Jeanjean etudes
Author: Philip Caron 
Date:   2021-10-06 21:29

Um, er, what does "subdivide" mean? What does it convey that isn't already expressed by note values, time signature, articulation marks and so forth?

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 Re: meaning of "decomposez" in Jeanjean etudes
Author: seabreeze 
Date:   2021-10-06 21:56

Could there be a clue in listening to a player like Jean Luc Votano perform some of the Jeanjean etudes? Here Votano plays etudes 2, 8 and 4 from the Jeanjean 18:

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=votano+jeanjean+clarinet.



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 Re: meaning of "decomposez" in Jeanjean etudes
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2021-10-07 02:41

Philip Caron wrote:

> Um, er, what does "subdivide" mean? What does it convey that
> isn't already expressed by note values, time signature,
> articulation marks and so forth?

I'm not sure if your question is meant to be read at face value. But in case it is, subdivisions of the beat result if you split a note value (duration) into a smaller fractional one (1 quarter = 2 eighths, etc.). So, they *are* a function of the note values and the way they are accounted for by the time (meter) signature.

Decomposez suggests to the player that, if the note value given in the bottom number of the meter signature is too slow to count reliably, beating the next shorter value - subdividing - may allow you to beat twice as fast to maintain the tempo more easily without compressing the pulse. So, "decomposez" *is* a function of the written meter signature.

Jeanjean is just warning you that the passage marked that way should be very slow but still played with a pulse.

Karl

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 Re: meaning of "decomposez" in Jeanjean etudes
Author: Philip Caron 
Date:   2021-10-07 18:09

Hi Karl, thank you. I'm still a little unclear. Is the term meant as an aid for less experienced players in teaching them to count evenly, or is it an instruction to performers to accent (or even articulate) the subdivisions of the written notes?

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 Re: meaning of "decomposez" in Jeanjean etudes
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2021-10-07 19:10

Philip Caron wrote:

> Is the term
> meant as an aid for less experienced players in teaching them
> to count evenly, or is it an instruction to performers to
> accent (or even articulate) the subdivisions of the written
> notes?

I think it's meant more as a way to indicate the real tempo. A composer might also want to emphasize that the subdivision is not a new meter. I.e., if the meter is 4/4 but the tempo of the quarter note is much less than 60 bpm, most people are apt to play too fast - allow too little time between each quarter note beat. It's easier to keep the overall slow tempo if you mentally think about the eighth notes that are twice as fast. But 8/8 might imply a different rhythmic feel - maybe a more even distribution or arch of accents - than 4/4 divided into beats and afterbeats.

I'm not sure that it's really productive to think too deeply about the instruction. For one thing, I don't think I've ever seen the Italian or German equivalent in composers who use those languages for instructions. For another, in my experience decomposez is used mostly by Debussy and Jeanjean, even among French composers. When you see it in either composer's work, I would just take it as permission to play very slowly by organizing the meter into beats and afterbeats.

Karl

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 Re: meaning of "decomposez" in Jeanjean etudes
Author: seabreeze 
Date:   2021-10-07 21:15

I've always thought of "decomposez" as a directive that the music is not to be played in cut time. So 3/4 gets 3 full beats, not 1, 6/8 gets 6 full beats, not 2, 12/8 gets 12 full beats, not 4, and so on

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 Re: meaning of "decomposez" in Jeanjean etudes
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2021-10-08 06:49

seabreeze wrote:

> I've always thought of "decomposez" as a directive that the
> music is not to be played in cut time. So 3/4 gets 3 full
> beats, not 1, 6/8 gets 6 full beats, not 2, 12/8 gets 12 full
> beats, not 4, and so on

It's certainly context dependent. And to a great extent, your reading is the same as mine - meant to keep a slow major beat (e.g. dotted quarter in 6/8 meter) from speeding up by pulsing the subdivisions - the eighth notes. Jeanjean's 16 Modern Etudes uses "decomposez" somewhere in almost every study. In many cases it applies to the opening tempo (e.g. #3), counting 9/8 at Andante espressivo as eighth notes, not dotted quarters, which would be too slow for most of us to count reliably. In the florid final section of #7, Jeanjean is more explicit -12/4 a 4 temps decomposez (count the quarters, not the dotted halves; 15/4 a 5 temps decomposez, etc... He means to divide the broader, slow meter, by pulsing the faster subdivisions to keep the tempo (the beat frequency) measured and controlled.

Karl

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