Offrande by Tournier–Question!

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    balfour-knight on #189361

    Thanks, Carl, for reminding me about this beautiful piece! I had put it aside and had not thought about it for quite some time, then you mentioned it and I got it back out. However, I have a question–in measure four and measure seventeen, in the RH part, there is a B natural on the bottom of the chord and a B flat on top of it! Since you cannot have both at the same time on the pedal harp, I wondered how all you great harpists would solve this problem. And, just in case you are thinking that we could use an A sharp, there is already an A flat in the left hand at the same time! Could it be a misprint? Can you use B natural, roll the chord slowly and change the pedal to B flat just in time for the top note of the chord to be played? I always have just played B flats, and never noticed the B naturals before. I have the Max Eschig, Paris, edition. I look forward to hearing from you wonderful harpists!

    Best regards,

    Gretchen Cover on #189362

    You obviously set the Db to D nat. in measure 16 and leave it until measure 18. I then change the B nat. to Cb in measure 17. You would have already set the Cb in measure 16. Go back to C nat. at the next chord which has a C nat.

    This also applies to measure 4 (which also has a Gb to deal with).

    balfour-knight on #189363

    Thanks so much, Gretchen, but I could not get that to work satisfactorily. There is a beautiful C natural sounding in the RH of M. 16, followed by a C natural in the LH on the “and” of the 5th beat and tied to the 6th beat! I had to change to C flat on the first beat of M. 17, which was not entirely smooth. This applies of course to M. 4, and M. 3 has a beautiful C natural on beat four, sounding until M. 4. I will keep practicing it to see if I can get it smooth. Anyone else have ideas?


    carl-swanson on #189364

    Balfour- I just checked my copy, and I use C flat for the B natural in both places.

    Gretchen Cover on #189367

    Balfour, with a little more practice your Cb will sound as good as the C natural:)

    balfour-knight on #189368

    Hi, Gretchen and Carl! I just saw your “multiple posts,” and that has to be the only practical solution. I appreciate both of you offering this great advice. I will practice it and get it smooth, after I memorize it, of course!
    Best to you both,

    carl-swanson on #189369

    Balfour- Have you had a chance to try Tournier’s Eternal Dreamer? It’s such a gorgeous piece. I also love his Berceuse Russe, which I’ve used many times in recital.

    Tacye on #189372

    Tournier and all the enharmonics his music requires reminds me of something I was wondering about – when did the harp music writing convention change to writing notes according to the string they should be played on?

    carl-swanson on #189373

    Tacye- Are you referring to things like writing C flat instead of B natural, when the B natural would need to be played by C flat? I’m not sure there was ever a “change.” The problem is-and Tournier was a first rate composer who had won the prix de Rome- if you write music according to the laws of correct harmony, then you get harp pieces with difficult or impossible harmonies.The harpist then has to go through and figure out exactly how the piece is going to be played, and make the necessary spelling changes. Tournier, even though he was a harpist, wrote his music so that it made sense harmonically, and therefore there is a lot of working out to do if you play one of his more difficult pieces, like the first Sonatine.

    Faure did the same thing in his Une Chatelaine en sa tour… and the result is a nightmare of tricky pedals. I published an edition of that piece a few years ago in which I had changed the most difficult spellings. The most extensive changes occur in the l’istesso tempo in the middle of the piece. There I almost completely respelled all the notes in the passage. In my version there are somewhat fewer pedal changes. But more importantly, there are fewer issues with pedal slides. But the spellings make no sense to anyone wanting to see the actual harmony. So I think it is a battle that is still going on and will continue.

    balfour-knight on #189385

    Gretchen, after practicing that spot a hundred times, it is now smooth–my C flat sounds as good as my C natural, ha, ha!

    Carl, I will have to dig out The Eternal Dreamer and the Berceuse Russe and relearn them. Both are very beautiful!

    Tacye, that was “food for thought.” I have always had to explain to students about the correct notation for something, regardless of what it sounds like, or looks like. One of my favorites is the fully diminished 7th chord. The interval from the lowest note to the highest is a Major 6th. It is, indeed, and sounds like a Major 6th. But it is written as a diminished 7th interval, as in from C up to B double-flat instead of A. (from C to B is a 7th, from C to A is a 6th) Therefore, the harp student would expect to see an A there, not a B double-flat, which is “impossible” on the harp.

    Carl had a good point. The great composers had to write in conventional theory/harmony notation, not misspelled notes for the harpist! It would always be a good idea to see the original which was written in accepted notation, then compare it to the edited version for the harpist which is written to make pedaling easier!

    I personally find it hard to play a C flat on the harp, because keyboardists have to automatically play a B there, so my tendency on the harp is to play a B string when I see a C flat. Gretchen, that is what made that spot awkward for me–I just had to get my head straight about it, ha, ha!

    My best to all of you,

    Gretchen Cover on #189387

    Yea, yea, Balfour. Using the piano (which I also play) as an excuse for not playing correctly on the harp…hmmm…original:) But, you now have the problem solved. Sometimes when there is a tricky note, I do a little cut and paste job to insert the note played. It’s so much easier now with an iPad. I get thrown I when see double # and double b. Or sharps and flats in the same measure/chord.

    carl-swanson on #189392

    Balfour- I’m surprised you reach for a B string when you see a C flat. I too play piano(I think many harpists do) and for some reason that never throws me. I agree with Gretchen about double sharps or flats. My feeble brain completely freezes up when I see that. I’m just not used to dealing with them. Tournier, in addition to being a first rate composer, also had the incredible training in solfege that was standard in his day. He could read 15 clefs: the G clef, F clef, and C clef on any line, and could mentally re-think flats, naturals, and sharps to mean something else so that he could look at a piece of music and instantly transpose it to any key. My last teacher, Bernard Zighera, who was French and had that same training, could do the same thing. During his first 25 years in the Boston Symphony, his most important job was teaching Kousevetsky the scores that he had to conduct, many of which were brand new pieces. Zighera could sit at the piano and play an orchestra piece in open score! So for these people, seeing double sharps or flats was no big deal. For us mortals though it is another story.

    I have to add here that Salzedo’s habit of writing harmonics where they sound instead of where they are played is an absolutely idiotic idea. Written music, whether it is the staves we are used to playing from or tablature, tells you where to put your fingers, not what sound comes out.

    Tacye on #189397

    That is exactly what I meant, Carl – nowadays I would expect a fine harpist composer to write things ‘spelled’ for the harpist and not needing a performing edition to be published. When composers ask for advice from harpists it is frequently one of the things mentioned. As you say nowadays written harp music tells you where to put your fingers, and I am sure Tournier could have written that way if he wanted – or got a competent scribe to edit it before publication.

    The question of pieces which were for harp or piano also doubtless complicates some writing as the pianists and harpists will sometimes want different spellings.

    Gretchen Cover on #189400

    Interestingly, I just looked at Guitare by Alphonse Hasselmans. At the bottom of the first page, there is a left hand chord with a B natural. Above the LH chord is written (Do b) The right hand plays a Bb in that measure. And, although the key signature already has a Bb, the composer kindly put the flat sign in front of the B to make sure the harpist knew his intention. In addition, two measures later he indicates the Cb to C nat. pedal change with (Do nat). Hasselmanns was thinking about the playability factor in his compositions. Or, maybe I got lucky with the edition I have – Lyra Music 1999.

    Carl, I totally agree with you about Salzedo’s harmonic use. That was one of his ideas that was never adapted, thankfully. For those who have not studied Salzedo, all harmonics in his music are played one octave lower than written.

    balfour-knight on #189406

    What great posts, friends! An interesting addition concerning my C flat–B natural mental “hang-up” on the harp–I have no problem whatsoever with F flats being E’s! I guess everyone has their own little problems. I just have to get my head straight and play C’s when I see C flats, no matter what the pitch is by the pedal position.

    I had just played the Offrande on the piano to see what that chord in M. 4 actually sounded like with the B natural and the B flat at the same time, so I was still in that “mode” when I tried it on the harp and kept playing B for C flat. I finally did what Gretchen suggested and rewrote the chord with the C flat, and now I don’t miss it! Thanks, Gretchen!

    I agree about Salzedo’s harmonic indications in the wrong octave also–I have to rewrite them to show where to actually play them so I don’t play them in the wrong place!

    On the other hand, if you play the Offrande on the piano, notice the harmonics. You have to play them “up an octave” to hear what they would sound like on the harp! This would be true of all harmonics written in the “normal” manner.

    My best to all of you,

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