“Music is a moral law. It gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, a charm to sadness, and life to everything. It is the essence of order, and leads to all that is good, just and beautiful, of which it is the invisible, but nevertheless dazzling, passionate, and eternal form.”

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Pianist's Puzzler Solution

In modern notation, the bracket means non-arpeggio. Some pianists think this bracket means to play both notes with the same hand. It does not. It means play the notes as an unbroken chord. Yes, I know, unbroken implies play it with the same hand. But what if the chord is too large to avoid breaking it? Now we're getting to the right question. If I wanted to observe the notation strictly, I would put the offending note in the right hand, which is very easy to do. Remember, the score shows us what the music sounds like, not how it feels in our hands.
Puzzler Solution
Arnold Dolmetsch
(1858-1940). French-born
 but of Swiss origin
     For those readers who demand chapter and verse, well, here they are. You can view common symbol notation at the Stanford University WEBSITE. Some confusion has arisen because the bracket in some Baroque sources could mean to arpeggiate, yes, the opposite of its current meaning. The Dolmetsch website, that would be a reference to the distinguished re-discoverer of Baroque instruments and their uses, gives us this chart for arpeggios:

Bracket Symbols, Including Two Obsolete

The text reads: [Arpeggios are] "indicated by a vertical wavy line, a vertical square bracket or a curved bracket (the latter two signs are now uncommon)." In a lifetime of staring myself nearsighted at an enormous variety of scores, including facsimiles of original manuscripts, I do not recall ever seeing a bracket that might be construed as an arpeggio. In fact, except as noted above in a more modern context, I don't recall ever having seen a bracket. Let it be briefly noted that we do see the curved bracket in certain editions of Chopin's works, which does mean to arpeggiate.
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