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Lord Skye

Italian terms

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Do they apply anymore? What if I want to write something that isn't a standard Italian direction in English? Would it be silly to mix languages in the same score? Should performers be bilingual? How does this relate to dynamic shorthands such as mf and pp?

In this topic, we shall discuss these questions and add our own if we come up with more.

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Well, the general consensus is that for a consistent notation one should stick to one language. But in reality, that's often unfeasible or hard to define. You already mentioned terms such as "pp", which of course is an Italian abbreviation, but still is commonly used in scores that write most verbal instructions in English, German, French, or whatever. Writing "vq" for "very quietly" would just be unnecessarily confusing here.

To a lesser degree that also applies to lots of other terms which have become -very- standardised over time. Be that crescendo, pizzicato, divisi, unisono, etc. Sure, you could also write "get louder", "pluck", "divided" and "together", but I don't think you'd gain anything by that - except making the score less accessible to performers speaking a different language.

But then there are terms where a certain tradition exists for giving them in different languages. "Con sord.", "avec sourdine", "mit D

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Yeah, what he said.

:laugh:

when Gardener arrives frist to a thread like this, ... there's nothing left to be said

We're going to clone him, can we ?

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Performers are expected to know what all the words on their music mean so that they can perform to the best of their ability and closest to the vision of the composer. So in a sense, they don't have to be fluent in multiple languages, but if you're playing music long enough and you're attentive, most people pick up on all the basic German, French, English and Italian words/phrases. You can write in whatever languages you want, as long as what you're writing is clear and doesn't hinder the rehearsal of the piece.

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I only use Italian terms, even on the rare occasion when I have really specific instructions. It bothers me when I see English in scores, but that by no means makes it invalid. Just a personal choice. I'm also Italian, so I feel comfier using it.

You must hate Grainger scores than. :)

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Native English speaker speaking, I really prefer Italian or German terms, I'm ambivalent towards French terms (although some things about french notation, quarter rests in particular, make me want to shoot myself), but English terms will drive me up a wall. I hate reading music with English terms and it makes me uncomfortable, maybe because I find English to be boring. When I'm reading music, there are three languages I can read: Italian, German, and music.

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No, not snobbish, just traditional.

you could even argue that using English terms is snobbish, because they brake the tradition:p

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Well, the general consensus is that for a consistent notation one should stick to one language. But in reality, that's often unfeasible or hard to define. You already mentioned terms such as "pp", which of course is an Italian abbreviation, but still is commonly used in scores that write most verbal instructions in English, German, French, or whatever. Writing "vq" for "very quietly" would just be unnecessarily confusing here.

To a lesser degree that also applies to lots of other terms which have become -very- standardised over time. Be that crescendo, pizzicato, divisi, unisono, etc. Sure, you could also write "get louder", "pluck", "divided" and "together", but I don't think you'd gain anything by that - except making the score less accessible to performers speaking a different language.

But then there are terms where a certain tradition exists for giving them in different languages. "Con sord.", "avec sourdine", "mit D

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No, not snobbish, just traditional.

you could even argue that using English terms is snobbish, because they brake the tradition:p

Well, the way I perceive it, there are four schools of thought.

1. "Italian terms are the tradition, and I mustn't break the long-standing tradition of Western classical art bla bla bla..."

2. "English terms are new, and as a composer I am obligated to further develop the long-standing bla bla..."

3. "English is the language of where I work and the people I will most likely encounter, as well as a fairly common worldly language, so I'll use it except where it would be confusing, like dynamic markings."

4. "_______ is the language of where I work and the people I will most likely encounter, so I'll use it unless my scores are being published internationally, in which case I'll use English which is probably the most widespread language that the most people can read.

Does that seem accurate? I think the first two are kinda silly, in that they're not really practical and they're based on something that's rather irrelevant to the point. So those would be the snobbish ones.

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Also people who use english in their pieces tend to use expressive directions as tempo markings.

White River Legend Overture starts "Forceful". I guarantee I can play forcefully at most any tempo. Although I guess the same would apply if the only direction i gave for a piece was "tutta forza"

A little piece my high school orchestra is playing (which is a really tacky perpetuo pizzicato "polka" in four) has the direction "with Spice". Asides from sounding extremely corny, I could probably play like that at any tempo, were the piece not pizzicato, thus having room for expressiveness. I guess that would be the same as plopping "con Brio" at the front of a piece.

In both pieces aforementioned, all of the tempo and expressive directions are in English, yet they still use the arco, pizz., mf, mp, ff, etc. I say if you want your directions in one language, you should put ALL of them in the same language. If I wrote a piece and then used all of the four most common languages in american-published scores (italian, german, french, english), to dictate the tempo, expression, and dynamic, the score would definitely look like crap.

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Italian is used mainly due to the fact that from a very early age musicians are TAUGHT the terminology (the bulk of which is in Italian). This is a long standing debate in music - one that dates back to the late classical period (if not before). Ive seen parts written all in English, all Italian, German tempo markings w/Italian dynamics, etc - this list goes on. Just write what you are comfortable writing with - but try to remember the musicians who will play your pieces.

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Just a consideration.

Mahler used Italian terms, but only on the most basic of things, such as dynamics or basic tempo markings or arco/pizz. Otherwise, he used German terms for his much more ornate expression markings and tempo markings and playing techniques. Such as "Sehr einfach und schlicht wie eine Volksweise" or "mit D

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Just a consideration.

Mahler used Italian terms, but only on the most basic of things, such as dynamics or basic tempo markings or arco/pizz. Otherwise, he used German terms for his much more ornate expression markings and tempo markings and playing techniques. Such as "Sehr einfach und schlicht wie eine Volksweise" or "mit D

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Also people who use english in their pieces tend to use expressive directions as tempo markings.

White River Legend Overture starts "Forceful". I guarantee I can play forcefully at most any tempo. Although I guess the same would apply if the only direction i gave for a piece was "tutta forza"

A little piece my high school orchestra is playing (which is a really tacky perpetuo pizzicato "polka" in four) has the direction "with Spice". Asides from sounding extremely corny, I could probably play like that at any tempo, were the piece not pizzicato, thus having room for expressiveness. I guess that would be the same as plopping "con Brio" at the front of a piece.

Okay, so you have the ability to play lively or forcefully at most any tempo, but do you have the musicality to decide which one sounds best, or at least sounds best to you? And if not, doesn't your conductor? I don't think not having a metronome marking is such a big deal. The composer simply wasn't being strict about it, so you use tact.

In both pieces aforementioned, all of the tempo and expressive directions are in English, yet they still use the arco, pizz., mf, mp, ff, etc. I say if you want your directions in one language, you should put ALL of them in the same language. If I wrote a piece and then used all of the four most common languages in american-published scores (italian, german, french, english), to dictate the tempo, expression, and dynamic, the score would definitely look like crap.

So... you're a fan of "vq" for "very quietly?" :P

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It's 2009...you guys are like 200 years behind the rest of the planet

Seriously

You should definitely quote who the 'guys' you are referring to here. I made the comment in my reply to the thread that one should write what they feel comfortable writing - whether it be Esperanto or Ancient Greek. Only thing you have to keep in mind is the performers who will be reading your work. IF they do NOT speak your language, they wont know how to interpret your notes. Should they just wing it and play that passage you marked as *Laboriously Slow* (without leaving a metronome marking, mind you) at Presto tempo??? The reason Italian is utilized is that it provides a strong foundation for musicians of any linguistic background a place to start in interpreting music AND compared to other languages (like Russian, Chinese, German, and yes English) is actually a very easy language to learn.

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It's 2009...you guys are like 200 years behind the rest of the planet

Seriously

So Italian, German and English are no longer used in context of music?

What should it be notated in? Newspeak?

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So Italian, German and English are no longer used in context of music?

What should it be notated in? Newspeak?

I was thinking Nadsat or the rabbit language from Watership Down

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So Italian, German and English are no longer used in context of music?

What should it be notated in? Newspeak?

$

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Just a consideration.

Mahler used Italian terms, but only on the most basic of things, such as dynamics or basic tempo markings or arco/pizz. Otherwise, he used German terms for his much more ornate expression markings and tempo markings and playing techniques. Such as "Sehr einfach und schlicht wie eine Volksweise" or "mit D

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Thanks for the utterly useless lesson in Mahler's German expression markings.

Tokkemon was simply pointing out how one famous composer works, and he gave examples. That's not so useless in relation to this thread.

When I first began composing I thought I should always use Italian, except perhaps in vocal pieces sung in another language (in those cases I would attempt to notate tempo markings and some other expressions in the language of the text). Now I always use English, except sometimes in the vocal text case from above and in cases where the Italian is highly standardized (like in dynamic markings and nonstructural tempo changes; I usually place structural tempo changes in English). I am only fluent in English and feel limited in using only one language for a piece, so I throw in my own English expressions without much concern. I don't have any inclination to learn Italian, or most other languages, beyond a long list of terms found in music.

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