PHRASE MARKINGS IN CARILLON MUSIC

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PHRASE MARKINGS IN CARILLON MUSIC

Postby FrancesNewell on Mon Dec 31, 2012 3:31 pm

Why aren't there more phrase markings in carilon music?
I see them sometimes, but they don't seem to be used as a general rule.
I do a lot of vocal and orchestral composing.
Singers do not need phrase markings because the phrasing is dictated by the words.
So, we carillonneurs do not need phrase markings when we play hymn tunes.
However, I could not hand an instrument part to my flautist, violinist, or horn player without putting in phrasing throughout the piece! Otherwise, he would not know where each phrase begins and ends, where to breathe, where to attack, how the music is sculpted, and other subtle nuances.
I can sing carillon music in my head and imagine the phrasing, but what if the composer intended something different?
What about all the subtle nuances and expression that phrase markings can indicate?
What about multi-layered music?
Yes, you put the melody notes stems-up and the rhythm notes stems-down in the manual, but is that enough?
Phrasing and slurs are what give the music it's shape, its story!
What's the deal here?
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Re: PHRASE MARKINGS IN CARILLON MUSIC

Postby JohnGouwens on Mon Dec 31, 2012 9:37 pm

Ha! You got me curious enough to go back and look at some of my own compositions, as well as the numerous pieces I edit for others. This is interesting, actually. I didn't offhand remember what I do, much less what anybody else does. In my music, what I have tended to do (to date) is not worry about slurs if the melody is obviously the top voice, and particularly if the melody is jaunty or spiky. I tend to use slurs to do three things:

Differentiate between interlude notes in whatever voice and melody notes - my Nocturne is a very good example of this. Especially if the melody is in the pedal, I use slurs to convey that. That way the player knows to bring that voice out at that time.

To imply a legato touch - a manner of keystroke that encourages the bells to resonate longer. (THAT is a whole different topic, and I'll start that here some time!)

To hint that there should be some dynamic and rhythmic shaping to that melody.

Looking through a few of my other pieces - I used slurs throughout my "Barnes Suite" and my "Sicilienne Ronde." Toccata Giocosa is spikier, and has little in the way of a lyric melody, so no slurs. For me as a composer, it depends on the piece. I hadn't really thought about the question! I just wrote it that way if it seemed to make sense to me.

I looked through a few Courter pieces. He tended to use it when the melody was in the pedal, under a manual figuration (the last movement of Suite 1 and the last movement of Suite IV, for example). In his Suite in Popular Style, he used slurs only in the Ballad, which is more songlike. I would assume he did that for the same reasons that I do. The other movements were blues, ragtime, and a march, and there are no slurs in any of those.

Now, looking at the music of John Pozdro, he used phrase markings somewhat inconsistently - apparently always to suggest interpretive shaping. In the Triptych, the Intermezzo, he uses slurs on the first line, but as the same musical idea continues at greater length, no more slurs until halfway into line 3, when a new variant of the theme is starting, after the music has pulled to a slight halt. In the more vigorous Slavic Dance, he used two slurs at the bottom of page one, the first time a secondary theme enters. After that, he seems to assume the player will understand what to do. I've never found that to be a problem, and I don't normally add slurs to carillon music.

Now to open another can of worms, the Belgian romantic composers (Denyn, van Hoof, Staf Nees) used slurs to indicate phrases where you'd use tremolando to connect everything, and then you presumably would articulate the phrases by breaking the tremolandi. (That's what I do with them, anyway.) In Staf Nees's "Rhythmendans," the A theme is more martial, and has no slurs - the B section is lyric, with a few tremolandi written, and slurs. The van Hoof Sonate (of which I prepared my own edition, so I have it handy) used slurs mostly on arpeggio patterns, but also occasionally for somewhat melodic passages in the pedals. He didn't use slurs for the melodies in the top voice. Van Hoof was a master composer for orchestral and other media, so he wasn't coming at it from the perspective of a carillonneur only. Of course, composers for all media also use slurs for small groups )two or three notes) that they want shaped a particular way. Denyn's Prelude in B-Flat has slurs for pairs of notes in the A section, and in the lyric, tremolando B section, slurs everywhere, as with Nees.

With the violin and the flute, to use your examples, you have instruments on which you can articulate the end of the phrase (actually releasing a note for a break). I add slurs to organ music for the same reason.

I wouldn't assume the absence of slurs means don't do anything with it. I view the slurs as more of a courtesy, and for the reasons I outlined above. It will be interesting to see what other people say. (Frances, offhand, I've forgotten whether you used phrases in "Journey of the Monarch Butterfly.") It's fun when somebody brings up a question that leads one to reconsider what he or she is doing. Thank you for just doing that!
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Re: PHRASE MARKINGS IN CARILLON MUSIC

Postby Peter Paul Olejar on Tue Jan 29, 2013 8:57 pm

Good question. So I reviewed one of my last pieces, "Harpers Ferry" and discovered that I did include a lot of phrase marks. But it is a good question because of what has already been brought up, a flute, trumpet, piano, organ, etc. can end a phrase by stopping the note whereas of course a caillon cannot. I think that this is what I struggled with early on as to whether to mark phrases. But I finally came to the conclusion that phrase marking will definitely help in giving the performer the understanding of the composer's intention and the phrasing can help with subtle dynamics, stresses, rubato, and all of the things that a sensative performer will do., as also, has been pointed out. So I plan to continue to use phrase marks.
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Re: PHRASE MARKINGS IN CARILLON MUSIC

Postby JohnGouwens on Tue Jan 29, 2013 9:00 pm

It certainly does no harm to include those! -John
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