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Thread: A question for composers

  1. #1
    Commodore con Forza
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    A question for composers

    Here's a question for the composers among you (Frederik, perhaps?), concerning César Franck's Prière.

    Starting on page 26, bar 14 (Durand 1956 edition), the upper voice does this:

    |c#-A#-G#A#|B#-c#-d#-|e#---c#-|A#-----|F#-d#-B#-|G#-----|

    (I use capital letters for the 4th octave and small ones for the 5th).

    But by comparison with a similar passage on page 18, he really should have written it as follows:

    |c#-A#-B#c#|d#-e#-f#-|g#-e#-c#-|A#-----|f#-d#-B#-|G#-----|

    Of course, the reason he didn't is that the manuals of his organ at Ste-Clotilde only went up to f.

    So here is my question: if I were to play this alternate upper voice (on a 61-key manual), how would you modify the other voices in those bars to make the whole thing consistent again (while still being playable with two hands and two feet!)?
    Last edited by acc; Jul-12-2006 at 20:11.

  2. #2
    Commodore con Forza musicalis's Avatar
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    Hi
    the question is interesting, but I have not this score. copying a full score is not allowed by copyright rules, but short passages for educational purpose are authorized. So, if you can send me these passages, may be i can give you an answer.
    Friendly yours. Jean-Paul

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  3. #3
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    Thanks for coming back to this old question of mine.

    You may look up the score here: http://imslp.info/files/imglnks/usim...783-Priere.pdf (the passage I'm referring to is at the end of page 14 / beginning of page 15 of the PDF file, in comparison to what Franck wrote on page 6).

  4. #4
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    It is an interesting question, acc, and you must have very sharp eyes/ears to have spotted this anomoly. I would never have noticed it, but I have often noticed a similar (but far more obvious) feature of Choral no 3 where at the conclusion of the central slow section the chorale theme is played in octaves on the pedals. There aren't enough pedals to accomplish this, so the melody has to be folded back on itself by an octave drop, but far from being a defect, this change seems to take on enormous musical significance, and becomes the pivotal point of the whole piece. So it is possible that being forced to compromise can sometimes be a blessing in disguise.

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    Commodore con Forza musicalis's Avatar
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    Hi
    I have given a glance to the score. for me what has done franck is not unusual at all. one of the basis of composition is the imitation. But a composer never entirely imitate a musical sentence; he often keeps the begining of a thema but brings many changes to the other notes. in case of a fugue, the respons can have a "mutation" that is necessary to come back to the original tonality.
    about the melody folded back on itself, it is not unpleasant for our ears and our brain understands what happens. In organ music, this folded melody is often found because Bach and other composer do it and because in some organ stops, the pipes, when too small are replaced by pipes one octave lower. I hope you can understand what I mean because it is not easy to explain in English.
    Friendly yours. Jean-Paul

    Music is my placebo

    Please visit my channel and web site to hear the music I compose
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  6. #6
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    You are perfectly right when you say that such modifications are often necessary. But if you look again at my first message, you'll see that I am very well aware of that: in this case, the problem is that the melody should go up to g# but Franck's manuals only go up to f.

    So my question was not why Franck wrote what he wrote, but how one could rewrite it for an organ whose manuals do go beyond g (just like the ossia Widor gives in the Symphonie Romane; see page 35 in this PDF file).

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    Greetings acc, and thanks for this little curiousity. My intial inclination would be to say that if Franck himself provided no ossia, then it was intentional. As Jean-Paul suggested, it may well have been a case of melodic development.

    Upon viewing the score, my other question was: might it not have been out of character - IF Franck wanted to restate the earlier theme literally at that register - to have drawn a brighter registration (ie, more 4' and 2' stops) and written the whole thing an octave lower? If so, why didn't he? Which is why I'm inclined more toward the idea that it was his intention to re-write the theme in that manner (it would also have allowed him to do more with harmonies, of which, let's not forget, he was a master).

    It does raise an interesting point though. I recall encountering a similar notion with the Tovey editions of Beethoven's piano sonatas. Passages of left hand octaves which suddenly fold-back because the range of Ludwig's keyboard was not today's standard 88-keys. If he'd had the extra compass, would he? (in his case, quite likely!)
    Music is made to transform the states of the soul, for an hour or an instant (J. Alain)

  8. #8
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    Writing an octave lower would not have been possible without voices crossing somewhere down the line. It would also ruin what is after all the climax of the whole piece (coming at the end of a huge build-up throughout page 14). Indicating 4' or 2' stops explicitly would be contrary to Franck's habits throughout his organ works (which is not to say that they should not be used).

    Incidentally, a number of organists who recorded the piece on instruments with 56-note-manuals (i.e. C-g) do play the f# (page 15, bar 2) an octave higher, e.g. André Marchal and Rolande Falcinelli.

    Anyway, let me say again: my question is not whether one should, but how one could do it.

  9. #9
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    Dear ACC
    I have tryed to answer your question. Not an easy problem.
    I hope this edited passage of Franck's score will help you, but sincerely what Franck has written is much better.

    I have posted my reply as a picture in the general music gallery :
    http://www.magle.dk/music-forums/gal....php?i=348&c=7

    JP

    Friendly yours. Jean-Paul

    Music is my placebo

    Please visit my channel and web site to hear the music I compose
    http://fr.youtube.com/organcomposer
    http://organ.monespace.net

  10. #10
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    Thanks a lot for your suggestions. You've obviously spent some amount of time to rewrite that whole page; I should also take some more time to analyse it in more detail. Right now, I notice that in bars 25-26 (in your numbering), both the soprano and the tenor are playing b#-c#-d# in parallel octaves (with a slight offset in rhythm). But I'll come back after I've looked at it more carefully.

  11. #11
    Commodore con Forza musicalis's Avatar
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    Dear ACC
    I left parallel octaves not to change too much Franck writing. For my ears, parallel octaves in middle voices are not forbidden. But, if you prefer, replace the tenor tuplet by a E in quarter note, or a shorter duration if you keep the small rest before.
    Friendly yours. Jean-Paul

    Music is my placebo

    Please visit my channel and web site to hear the music I compose
    http://fr.youtube.com/organcomposer
    http://organ.monespace.net

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