Page:Essentials in Conducting.djvu/82

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

These are only general principles, however, and the details of phrasing in instrumental music cannot be treated adequately in writing because of their too great complexity. It is only through practice, reinforced by the intelligent criticism of a real musician, that skill and taste in the art of phrasing can be acquired. A few concrete suggestions are offered, and these may be of some slight help to the amateur, but they are not to be thought of as "a complete guide."

  1. The first tone of the phrase is often stressed slightly in order to mark the beginning of the new idea.
  2. The final tone (particularly of the short phrase) is commonly shortened in order to make clear the separation between phrases.
  3. The climacteric tone of the phrase is often prolonged slightly as well as accented, in order to make its relationship to the other tones stand out clearly.

RHYTHMClosely connected with phrasing is rhythm, and although the rhythmic factor should perhaps theoretically belong wholly to the composer, since he is able to express his rhythmic ideas in definite notation, yet in actual practice this does not prove to be the case because the amateur player or singer so often finds that "time is hard"; and there are consequently many occasions when the rhythm indicated by the composer is wholly distorted, either because the performers are weak in their rhythmic feeling or because the conductor is careless and does not see to it that the rhythmic response of his chorus or orchestra is accurate and incisive and yet elastic.

Rhythm is the oldest of the musical elements and there is no question but that the rhythmic appeal is still the strongest of all for the majority of people. Rhythm is the spark of life in music, therefore, woe to the composer who attempts to substitute ethereal harmonies for virile rhythms as a general principle of musical construction. Mere tones, even though beautiful both in themselves and through effective combination, are meaningless,