Author Topic: 125 bpm  (Read 2053 times)

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Jamie Kowalski

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125 bpm
« on: September 04, 2015, 07:49:42 AM »
You know, you just don't see a lot of odd-numbered metronome markings, do you? Take a look through whatever scores and sheet music you may own... how many can you find? Why are they avoided? I think I actually recall one of my instructors at Oberlin declaring that those tempos "do not exist" as a criticism of one student's work. But whatever the reason, this idea has become a little splinter in my brain.

As you may have guessed, I am setting a piece and hear it in my head as 125 bpm. But I'm having trouble committing that marking to paper. It just looks wrong. I know I should just say "screw it," and use it anyway. After all, that's the tempo I want, right? And I'm sure it won't be the first piece marked as 125.

And can I even hear the difference? Well, yes I can (in this case, anyway). 124 sounds too slow, and 126 too fast. I've even had the thought that I would mark it q=124-126 and hope it comes out 125. Ridiculous, the inner conversations of my mind!

And yes, I know there is very little difference between 124, 125, and 126. On top of that, I know that whatever I choose, it's likely to vary by as much as 8 or 10 bpm in actual performance. So why is this bugging me so much?

I beg for someone to release me from this prison. Please tell me "Jamie, marking it 125 is perfectly fine!"

Michel.R.E

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Re: 125 bpm
« Reply #1 on: September 04, 2015, 08:09:05 AM »
Jamie, marking it 125 is fine.. as long as you know that musicians will probably never actually play it at that tempo.

I set certain tempi for my trombone concerto, and when ti was time for a live performance, realized that in a real live environment, the tempo made no sense.

The same with my violin sonata. it worked on the computer, but once in the concert hall, the tempi didn't "fit" or feel right.


One reason there are specific tempo markings is that those are the markings on a metronome.
If you put a tempo marking that doesn't exist on a metronome, then no one will actually be able to check the tempo and work with a metronome.
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Jamie Kowalski

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Re: 125 bpm
« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2015, 08:20:21 AM »
Thanks, Michel. I always knew it was fine, but I just needed to hear someone say it.

I understood where the practice of even-numbered only came from... that was more a rhetorical question. And these days, electronic metronomes let you set whatever you want.

I also have no problem at all with a conductor who varies from my marking. As long as they are taking up the work in the first place, I'm pretty loose on the any further demands.

Interesting side-note. Beethoven was the first to use metronome markings in his music. In 1817, he went back and added markings to his first 8 symphonies. And while most of the markings were for even numbers, there was one occurrence of 63, and two of 69. I've just now searched through some Google images of metronomes, and those two (and only those) are sometimes marked on their scale.

Michel.R.E

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Re: 125 bpm
« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2015, 08:54:57 AM »
my electric metronome (it's not one of those digital things, but it's electric... is it still an "electronic" metronome?) has both 63 and 69 on it.
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Jamie Kowalski

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Re: 125 bpm
« Reply #4 on: September 04, 2015, 08:57:15 AM »
Any other odd numbers?

Michel.R.E

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Re: 125 bpm
« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2015, 09:08:04 AM »
Nope, just the two Beethoven numbers.
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Ron

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Re: 125 bpm
« Reply #6 on: September 04, 2015, 09:10:55 AM »
Mine (electronic) allows all odd numbers. I never thought that odd numbers were a problem.

You do bring up an interesting point though. I too have noticed an appreciable difference between the speed at which something plays back on a computer and the speed at which real players play the same metronome pace. Very strange.
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gogreen

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Re: 125 bpm
« Reply #7 on: September 04, 2015, 11:38:33 AM »
I've been shocked several times during rehearsals I've attended for some of my pieces when the tempo I wrote sounded fine on the computer and way, way off with real players.

FossMaNo1

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Re: 125 bpm
« Reply #8 on: September 18, 2015, 12:43:34 PM »
I always thoughts tempo markings only looked okay if when you added all the numbers up in the marking they equaled a number divisible by 3. 125 bpm, in this case, looks fine to me.
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