Author Topic: sffz  (Read 12666 times)

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FossMaNo1

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sffz
« on: February 11, 2012, 09:18:26 AM »
So, in wind instruments sforzando (sffz) tends to mark a controlled overblow.  In brass we call this, jokingly, blastissimo!

With strings, however, I'm not certain this notation really even means anything.  Is there a difference between fortissimo (with a marcato mark) and sforzando for the strings?
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Michel.R.E

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Re: sffz
« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2012, 09:41:04 AM »
a sfz (with one "F") is a type of heavy accent.

it is played differently (with a different "intent") than a forte with an accent.

personally, I think there are FAR too many different articulations, most are redundant, most are just "magnitudes of" other articulations, often times simply saying "even MORE of whatever that articulation was". And then composers come and invent new BIGGER articulations that mean "yet even more still than that last huge articulation".

it just becomes overkill.
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jmsuijkerbuijk

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Re: sffz
« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2012, 11:52:12 AM »
My opinion is that if a composer feels the need to differentiate dynamics and articulations that much, he doesn't take his performers seriously. Have a little faith in the performers (who often are more comfortable on the instrument than the composer is) and allow them to play their view on the score. Is there really a musician who can play every degree of dynamics between ppppp and fffff or play more staccato than staccatissimo? Of course not, so why write it?

The very fact that performers can and will, not reproduce but recreate a score every time again, makes music (and all stage arts, for that matter) so very special, ever vibrant.

FossMaNo1

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Re: sffz
« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2012, 12:34:57 PM »
I agree, JM.  I also feel there are way too many notations out there.  Personally, I use pp - ff.  I think anything above or below that is ridiculous.
C. Foster Payne
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"If you get to thinkin' you're a person of some influence, try orderin' somebody else's dog around."

Ron

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Re: sffz
« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2012, 02:39:50 PM »
Alan Belkin told me not to use mp and mf because it should either be loud or quiet. However, I like having four main dynamic levels: p, mp, mf, f--with pp and ff reserved for extreme cases.
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suspenlute

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Re: sffz
« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2012, 07:26:38 PM »
I think the real objection to using mp and mf is that they represent an unforced and "natural" volume in theory - which varies widely in practice from instrument to instrument and even more widely from performer to performer. Most people have a slightly narrower definition of "f" or "p" and will play in a more unified manner when instructed to do either.

For what it's worth I've also heard that bit of advice from prof. Belkin and currently I use mp and mf very sparingly (mostly in the middle of lengthy crescendo and diminuendos).

Ron

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Re: sffz
« Reply #6 on: February 12, 2012, 09:43:30 AM »
I think the real objection to using mp and mf is that they represent an unforced and "natural" volume in theory - which varies widely in practice from instrument to instrument and even more widely from performer to performer. Most people have a slightly narrower definition of "f" or "p" and will play in a more unified manner when instructed to do either.

For what it's worth I've also heard that bit of advice from prof. Belkin and currently I use mp and mf very sparingly (mostly in the middle of lengthy crescendo and diminuendos).

Okay. That makes sense to me. I think I'll revise my dynamics as pp - p  - f - ff and reserve ppp and fff for the extremes.
Ron
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Jamie Kowalski

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Re: sffz
« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2012, 06:02:47 AM »
I only very rarely go to fff. I don't recall if I've ever used ppp, but probably would in the right circumstance. I think the idea of never using mf or mp is silly. If the idea was to instill the concept of using more contrast in your music, he was going about it in the wrong way.

To balance out sfz, shouldn't there be a spz? Ok, I'm totally kidding on that one. I can't even imagine what that would be.  :P

flint

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Re: sffz
« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2012, 08:33:33 AM »
Most of my works can use ppp through fff. I do use mf and mp and I do think they have their place. I personally think of mf as the generic volume of a group... not forced, but also not soft-ish.

ppp and fff are special circumstances - to me, ppp is "as quiet as possible" and fff is "as loud as possible" in my eyes. Like any extreme, they must be used carefully and thoughtfully.
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Ron

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Re: sffz
« Reply #9 on: February 13, 2012, 08:41:24 AM »
I only very rarely go to fff. I don't recall if I've ever used ppp, but probably would in the right circumstance. I think the idea of never using mf or mp is silly. If the idea was to instill the concept of using more contrast in your music, he was going about it in the wrong way.

To balance out sfz, shouldn't there be a spz? Ok, I'm totally kidding on that one. I can't even imagine what that would be.  :P

subito p
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Michel.R.E

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Re: sffz
« Reply #10 on: March 07, 2012, 10:15:46 AM »
I completely understand Alan Belkin's objection to the over-use of mezzo-piano/forte. There are people who write entire pieces where the only dynamics are mezzo-something. So in a sense it means "medium"... what? compared to what?

I use pp through FF. Though the top extreme is relatively rare in my scores. I like to think of my music as going between pianissimo and forte.

To me, mezzo piano is "not soft".

And mezzo forte is "not loud".

I don't see them as equivalent in any way.

Not loud, does not mean soft. But it is "pronounced", present, strong enough.

Not soft does not mean loud, but it isn't as delicate as "soft".

pianissimo, on the other hand, is really an extreme... "as softly as you can".
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Jamie Kowalski

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Re: sffz
« Reply #11 on: March 08, 2012, 06:33:04 AM »
I completely understand Alan Belkin's objection to the over-use of mezzo-piano/forte.

Alan Belkin told me not to use mp and mf because it should either be loud or quiet.

Does anyone have the actual Belkin quote? There's a big difference between "don't use" and "don't overuse."

I try not to think too hard about the literal translations "medium-soft" and "medium loud." It makes me think of the weather reports that make a distinction between "partly cloudy" and "partly sunny" -- I still don't know which one of those is cloudier.

I prefer to just think of dynamics as a continuum running from very soft to very loud, and I'm probably going to need most of what's on that continuum for any given piece of music. My only weird hangup is that I would rather there were a center to the range, which logically would fall somewhere between mp and mf. Adding something there would be ridiculous, of course -- unless we just get rid of both mp and mf, replacing them with a simpler m. (Not an actual suggestion)

Michel.R.E

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Re: sffz
« Reply #12 on: March 08, 2012, 07:21:31 AM »
Jamie: Ron and I both studied with Alan, so it's not like we're quoting from a book of his.

In my case, it's from the three years I studied under him doing my master's degree, plus years of our friendship just talking music.

I don't think it's so much a "rule" that one must follow, as it is a guideline in getting a better understanding of what one is doing when one writes dynamics.

But professor Belkin is taking the classical-era stance of two dynamics: loud, soft. If you examine any Mozart score, you will see that there are no mezzo anythings.  When there are, they were added by the publisher/editor considerably after the fact. The degree of loudness/softness is dictated by the music itself and its orchestration.

I have had SO much trouble working with less-than-professional orchestras regarding this particular aspect of classical-era music. I remember with one group, working on Mozart's 41st, I wanted more sound from the 2nd violins in one crucial countermelody... and the 1st desk kept arguing with me "yes but it's written piano". grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
« Last Edit: March 08, 2012, 07:25:56 AM by Michel.R.E »
"Writing music to be revolutionary is like cooking to be famous: Music’s main function is not revolution. – Alan Belkin "

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Jamie Kowalski

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Re: sffz
« Reply #13 on: March 08, 2012, 08:09:52 AM »
As the point of dynamics is contrast, mp/mf certainly do not offer as much as p or f in a general sense. So I agree with the sentiment as I understand it. I would especially avoid beginning or ending a piece "mezzo."

On the other hand, I won't base my markings on what Mr. Mozart did. What works in his music most certainly does not in mine.

Michel.R.E

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Re: sffz
« Reply #14 on: March 08, 2012, 09:00:40 AM »
it's most definitely not that Mozart's music was to be played either loud or soft, with nothing in between.

the point was that it leaves to the interpreter the degrees and the judgment required to perform it.

that is one thing I hold against very contemporary music: it too often leaves very little choice to the performer, preferring to micro-manage every single detail of performance.
"Writing music to be revolutionary is like cooking to be famous: Music’s main function is not revolution. – Alan Belkin "

"Saying something new about something old is still saying something new. – Jamie Kowalski"