Tempi getting faster generally?

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    Elizabeth Volpé Bligh on #148082

    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?

    Sylvia Clark on #148083

    I’ll throw in 2 cents since no one has contributed.

    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #148084

    I don’t know when they got slower, but tempi in olden days were very fast. It wouldn’t surprise me, what you say, as playing is also getting louder and louder. It’s not particularly musical.

    sherry-lenox on #148085

    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.

    David Ice on #148086

    Printed tempos are getting faster, too…..I was handed an INSANE choral piece in 7/8, an 8th note = 220!

    rosalind-beck on #148087

    Yes, Elizabeth, and it’s really appalling.

    paul-knoke on #148088

    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!

    Sarah Mullen on #148089

    Saul, I recently went through all the tunes in the Bunting collection of Irish music.

    david humphreys on #148090

    I guess to an extent, tempo is always going to be a vexed question!

    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #148091

    I think it is part of conducting. When I conduct something, it is very hard to feel the tempo in a normal way, and with adrenaline kicking in, one just wants to go fast, and feel it move.

    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #148092

    When I performed the Mozart, I wanted it no faster than 126, so I asked the conductor to look at his watch before starting, and use the second hand to establish 60, ergo 120 for a beat. It worked perfectly.

    Kara Dahl Russell on #148093

    We all have to remember that Beethoven considered it a good joke to mark tempi on his published work that was much faster than he played it himself.

    carl-swanson on #148094

    Toscanini was famous for his breakneck tempos, and that was in the ’30’s.40’s,and ’50’s. So fast tempos are nothing new.

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