I have been playing in professional orchestras since the mid-70’s, and I always mark the tempi in my parts for practice purposes. I have noticed that these tempi have been getting faster and faster over the decades. For example, in Capriccio Espagnol’s Fandango asturiano, my first marking was 69 to the dotted half note, and now it’s up to 76. (From my limited dance experience, I would say that it would be pretty difficult to dance a fandango at this tempo.) Harp parts that used to be easy and enjoyable are turning into devilishly difficult challenges. Is anyone else noticing this?
Music has to get louder, because most over 30s are now hearing less than people three times their age were hearing before the advent of AMPLIFIED MUSIC, which is one bane of my existence followed close second by tempi that have nothing to do with music.
I listen to a lot of performances on YouTube, especially of things I always loved to play when I was at the top of my game, able to do anything technical that anyone threw at me, and while there are a few random criticisms of fast loud performances, there aren’t many.
It’s possible that compared to most posters here, I am REALLY REALLY old, but when I was playing 30-40 years ago, music WAS slower.
Mechanical music is different than electronic, ultra fast, ultra loud music but there aren’t enough OLD people left, so the young folk just love to hear it loud enough to rattle your liver and fast enough so that a human ear can’t perceive it.
I’ve been doing some performance practice research using early 78s and reproducing piano rolls, and what has struck me is not just the upwards creep in tempi, but the loss of phrasing. It seems that musicians used to phrase things very broadly and deliberately, with a clear sense of both structure and breathing whether they were singing or at the piano. Now it feels like too much is metronomic, and the phrases and shape of the music get run together in a headlong dash!
This article seems appropriate in this thread.
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