Historically informed performance
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Historically informed performance (also referred to as period performance, authentic performance, or HIP) is an approach to the performance of Western music and theater. Within this approach, the performance adheres to state-of-the-art knowledge of the aesthetic criteria of the period in which the music or theatre work was conceived. Whenever this knowledge conflicts with current aesthetic criteria, the option of re-training the listener/viewer, as opposed to adapting the work, is normally followed. Music is usually played on instruments corresponding to the period of the piece being played, such as period instruments for early music. Historical treatises, as well as additional historical evidence, are used to gain insight into the performance practice (the stylistic and technical aspects of performance) of a historic era. Corresponding types of acting and scenery are deployed. Historically informed performance has originated in the performance of Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque music, but has come to encompass music from the Classical and Romantic eras as well. Quite recently, the phenomenon has begun to affect the theatrical stage, for instance in the production of Baroque opera.
- 1 Traditional musical practice
- 2 Early instruments
- 3 Singing
- 4 Layout
- 5 Recovering early performance practices
- 6 Issues
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 Bibliography
- 10 External links
Traditional musical practice
The gradual and still ongoing historical evolution in the construction of instruments and in the training of musicians, as part of the evolution of aesthetic sense, has produced a corresponding evolution in sounds and styles.
Historically informed performance needs to access musical instruments corresponding to the period of the music being played. This has led to the revival of musical instruments entirely gone out of practice, and to a reconsideration of the role and structure of instruments also used in current practice.
Among keyboard instruments, the most dramatic disappearance was that of the harpsichord, which gradually went out of style during the second half of the 18th century. The fortepiano became more popular by such a degree that harpsichords were destroyed; indeed, the Paris Conservatory is notorious for having used harpsichords for firewood during the French Revolution and Napoleonic times. Composers such as François Couperin, Domenico Scarlatti, Girolamo Frescobaldi, and Johann Sebastian Bach wrote for the harpsichord, clavichord, and organ.
A vast quantity of music for viols, for both ensemble and solo performance, was written by composers of the Renaissance and Baroque eras, including Diego Ortiz, Claudio Monteverdi, William Byrd, William Lawes, Henry Purcell, Monsieur de Sainte-Colombe, J.S. Bach, Georg Philipp Telemann, Marin Marais, Antoine Forqueray, and Carl Frederick Abel. However, viols were largely abandoned by the end of the 18th century, having been overtaken by the violin family.
From largest to smallest, the viol family consists of:
- contrabass or violone
- bass viol (about the size of a cello)
- tenor viol (about the size of a guitar)
- alto viol (about the size of a viola)
- treble or descant viol (about the size of a violin).
Recorders in multiple sizes (contra-bass, bass, tenor, alto, soprano, the sopranino, and the even smaller kleine sopranino or garklein) are often played today in consorts of mixed size. Handel and Telemann, among others, wrote solo works for the recorder. Arnold Dolmetsch did much to revive the recorder as a serious concert instrument, reconstructing a "consort of recorders (descant, treble, tenor and bass) all at low pitch and based on historical originals."
The capabilities of the human voice are constrained by its physiology, but it can be trained in different ways. For example, singers in historically informed performances may aim at a less loud tone, with less vibrato and different use of dynamics, to match the use of different accompanying instruments. A few of the singers who have contributed to the historically informed performance movement are Emma Kirkby, Max van Egmond, Julianne Baird, Nigel Rogers, and David Thomas.
Modern countertenor singing was pioneered by Alfred Deller, and leading contemporary performers include David Daniels, Derek Lee Ragin, Andreas Scholl, Michael Chance, Drew Minter, Daniel Taylor, Brian Asawa, Philippe Jaroussky.
Compositions intended to be sung by castrati present a problem. The 1994 movie Farinelli: Il Castrato, about an 18th-century castrato, used digital effects to create the voice by mixing the sound of a countertenor with that of a soprano singer.
Historic pictures, layout sketches and sources are giving information about the layout of singers and instruments. Three main layouts are documented:
- Circle (Renaissance)
- Choir in the front of the instruments (17th–19th century)
- Singers and instruments next to each other on the choir loft.
Recovering early performance practices
Interpreting musical notation
Some familiar difficult items are as follows:
- Early composers often wrote using the same symbols as today, yet in a different meaning, often context-dependent. For example, what is written as an appoggiatura is often meant to be longer or shorter than the notated length.
- The notation may be partial. E.g., the note durations may be omitted altogether, such as in unmeasured preludes, pieces written without rhythm or metre indications.
- The music may be written using alternative, non-modern notations, such as tablature. Some tablature notations are only partially decoded, such as the notation in the harp manuscript by Robert ap Huw.
- The reference pitch of earlier music cannot generally be interpreted as designating the same pitch used today.
- Various tuning systems (temperaments), are used. Composers always assume the player will choose the temperament, and never indicate it in the score.
- In most ensemble music up to the early Baroque, the actual musical instruments to be used are not indicated in the score, and must be partially or totally chosen by the performers. A well-discussed example can be found in Monteverdi's L'Orfeo, where the indications on which instruments to use are partial and limited to critical sections only.
- Issues of pronunciation, that impact on musical accents, carry over to church Latin, the language in which a large amount of early vocal music was written. The reason is that Latin was customarily pronounced using the speech sounds and patterns of the local vernacular language.
Some information about how music sounded in the past can be obtained from contemporary mechanical instruments. For instance, the Dutch Museum Speelklok owns an 18th century mechanical organ of which the music programme was composed and supervised by Joseph Haydn.
Tuning and pitch
The baroque oboist Bruce Haynes has extensively investigated surviving wind instruments and even documented a case of violinists having to retune by a minor third to play at neighboring churches.[page needed]
Some motivations for historically informed performance are:
- Historically informed instruments, in association with a historically informed playing technique, offer a balance of musical elements, such as timbre contrast and contrapuntal clarity, that differs from non-informed performances.
- Such balance is structural to the agogic and idiomatic constituents of the culture surrounding the composer, no less important in delivering the musical content than the culture surrounding the listener.[vague]
- Incorporating in the performance cultural elements of the composer, as opposed to omitting them in total favour of the listener's culture, results in a stronger and deeper performance rendition.
As in literature, where early poetry or prose can be accessed both through the original text and through a paraphrase or a metaphrase in modern language in the performing arts, historical respondence[vague] may be of difficult implementation, both practically (how do we do it?) and conceptually (what meaning and function should be attributed to aesthetic elements that have evolved?). Prior to audio and video recording, no direct record of performing arts survives. Opinions on the implications of the aforementioned motivations and on how they should translate into criteria for historically informed performance vary.
Even within the early music revival, awareness of the pitfalls was clear. Though championing the need (for example in his editorship of Scarlatti sonatas) for a thoroughly-informed approach, not least in understanding as fully as possible a composer's actual wishes and intentions in their historical context, Ralph Kirkpatrick, while pioneering the harpsichord rediscovery, highlights the risk of using historical exoterism to hide technical incompetence: "too often historical authenticity can be used as a means of escape from any potentially disquieting observance of esthetic values, and from the assumption of any genuine artistic responsibility. The abdication of esthetic values and artistic responsibilities can confer a certain illusion of simplicity on what the passage of history has presented to us, bleached as white as bones on the sands of time."[page needed]
Yet, the acceptance of the concept is rapidly evolving.[vague] Today, performing an Early Baroque opera, such as Claudio Monteverdi's L'Orfeo without, at the very least, full historical awareness, would be inconceivable.
Classical recording producer Michael Sartorius writes: "While the debate on authenticity in baroque performance will continue, certain essential characteristics should be present, if the performance is to reflect the true baroque spirit."
- Early music revival
- List of early music ensembles
- List of period instruments
- Authenticity in art
- String section
- One voice per part
- Concert pitch
- Making Way for Beautiful Music
- [full citation needed], Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart.
- Mattheson 1739,[page needed].
- C. P. E. Bach, Versuch über die wahre Art das Clavier zu spielen, Berlin 1753: Teil 1, Section 2 Par. 5.
- Peter Greenhill, The Robert ap Huw Manuscript: An Exploration of its Possible Solutions, 5 vols. (all), Bangor: University of Wales, CAWMS dissertation, 1995-2000.
- Thurston Dart, "Robert ap Huw's Manuscript of Welsh Harp Music", The Galpin Society Journal, Vol 21 (1963). JSTOR 841428.
- "Stimmung und Temperatur", in F. Zaminer, ed., Geschichte der Musiktheorie, Vol. 6: "Hören, Messen und Rechnen in der Frühen Neuzeit", Darmstadt, Germany: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft (1987) ISBN 978-3534012060.
- Jane Glover, "Solving the Musical Problem" in John Whenham (ed.) Claudio Monteverdi: Orfeo, 138-155. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1986. ISBN 0-521-24148-0
- Rob van der Hilst, Fluitekruid van Joseph Haydn
- Bruce Haynes, "Pitch Standards in the Baroque and Classical Periods" (diss., U. of Montreal, 1995).
- Fisher RW, "Medieval German Literature in Modern German Translation: A Survey of Some Recent Practices, with Some Comments on their Rationale", Babel Vol. 44, no. 2 (1998): 110–27.
- C. Lawson and R. Stowell (eds.), The Cambridge History of Musical Performance (all), Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 2012
- Ralph Kirkpatrick, Interpreting Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1984)
- Michael Sartorius, "Baroque Music Performance: 'Authentic' or 'Traditional': A Discussion of the Essential Issues Involved", http://www.baroquemusic.org/barperf.html.
- Badura-Skoda, Paul. 1993. Interpreting Bach at the Keyboard, translated by Alfred Clayton. Oxford: Clarendon Press; New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-816155-7 (cloth); ISBN 0-19-816576-5 (1995 pbk reprint). (Translation of Bach-Interpretation: die Klavierwerke Johann Sebastian Bachs. Laaber: Laaber-Verlag, 1990. ISBN 3-89007-141-4.)
- Dart, Thurston. 1954. The Interpretation of Music. London: Hutchinson and Co.
- Dolmetsch, Arnold. 1915. The Interpretation of the Music of the 17th and 18th Centuries Revealed by Contemporary Evidence. London: Novello.
- Robert Donington. 1963. The Interpretation of Early Music. London: Faber and Faber.
- Hubbard, Frank. 1965. Three Centuries of Harpsichord Making. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press ISBN 0-674-88845-6.
- Kenyon, Nicholas (editor). 1988. Authenticity and Early Music. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-816152-2.
- Kivy, Peter. 1995. Authenticities: Philosophical Reflections on Musical Performance. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. ISBN 0-8014-3046-1.
- Leech-Wilinson, Daniel. 1992. "The Good, the Bad and the Boring". In Companion to Medieval & Renaissance Music, edited by Tess Knighton and David Fallows,[page needed]. London: J. M. Dent.; New York: Schirmer Books. ISBN 0-460-04627-6 (Dent); ISBN 0-02-871221-8 (Schirmer). Paperback reprint, Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1997. ISBN 0-19-816540-4. Paperback reprint, Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1997. ISBN 0-520-21081-6.
- Mattheson, Johann. 1739. Der vollkommene Kapellmeister, das ist, Gründliche Anzeige aller derjenigen Sachen, die einer wissen, können, und vollkommen inne haben muss, der eine Kapelle mit Ehren und Nutzen vorstehen will. Breslau: [s.n.]; Hamburg: Herold. Facsimile reprint, edited by Margarete Reimann. Documenta Musicologica Reihe 1: ruckschriften-Faksimiles 5. Kassel: Bärenreiter, 1954. Study edition with newly typeset text and music examples, edited by Friederike Ramm. Bärenreiter-Studienausgabe. Kassel, Basel, London, New York, Prague: Bärenreiter. ISBN 3-7618-1413-5.
- Parrott, Andrew. 2000. The Essential Bach Choir. [N.p.]: The Boydell Press. ISBN 0-85115-786-6.
- Rosen, Charles. 1997. The Classical Style, second edition. New York: W. W. Norton. ISBN 0-393-31712-9.
- Rosen, Charles. 2000. Critical Entertainments. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-00684-4.
- The Unofficial Countertenor Home Page
- A Guide to Medieval and Renaissance Instruments
- Period instrument performers and groups listed on The Open Music Project
- Dilemmas in Trying to Present Old Works of Art 'Authentically'
- Inside Early Music: Conversations with Performers (book by Bernard Sherman; Oxford University Press, 1997)
- Why you've never really heard the "Moonlight" Sonata (Slate Magazine covering differences between authentic and modern piano performances