BDP #59, Ornamentation, Ornaments

<Music: “Il Sonno” from Vivaldi's Concerto for Bassoon “La Notte”>

I know for many years I was confused about ornaments and the way in which to play them.  I am hoping that this video will provide you with a little bit of understanding, at least clarification of these ornaments. Let's get started.

So on to a few brief comments on ornaments.I'm going to highlight in this video four of the ornaments: the appogiatura, the mordent, the short trill, and the trill.

Of all the ornaments in Baroque music and indeed extending into Classical music, the appogiatura is the most important.It's the most important in terms of frequency: you'll find appogiaturas used to approach trills and turns. You will also find appogiaturas on their own. But in addition to frequency in the music, what I am trying to say, is that the appogiatura gives an important style or a feeling or pathos to the music. The appogiatura is a dissonant note that is most often stressed, meaning that it comes on a beat. Because of that it it gives a unique sound to music here. Let me read directly what Quantz has to say.   

The appogiatura is the first grace note he treats.  Again he gives it significance that I am trying to give to you. In here he writes, "In performance appogiaturas are both ornamental and essential.Without appoggiaturas a melody would sound very meager and plain.

So these appogiaturas you could say "spice up" the melody. [They] give it a very important emotional 
impact--to the listener. 

Now here we have a table of some of appogiaturas given by C. P. E. Bach, who was J.S. Bach's son. This is from one of his important treatises. This is found--quoted--in Frederick Neuman's book.
You can see here the appogiaturas are given as they would be shown in the music but we also find below how they would be played by the performer.

Often the appogiaturas are given half the value of the note. When the note is dotted, or divided into three parts, often the appogiatura is given two of the three parts of the note. Here are some interesting things where the appogiatura is given the duration of the half note with a resolution only given only an eighth note in this case. So the appogiaturas can be of varying lengths and you would need to study the music, the composer, to  defined outdoor how to play the appogiaturas. There is quite a bit of controversy about appogiaturas and that being whether to play them on the beat or before the beat.

Frederick Neumann does give a table of a number of instances where the appogiaturas clearly need to be played before the beat. The reason for that is rhythmic clarity.

So let's discuss a few things here. You will find that composers and authors disagree. C. P. E. Bach is often quoted as being the composer or theorist who is more insistent upon the appogiatura being on the beat.  Yet there are quite a few exceptions given in his music and even in his writings.

Here are a few suggestions I have for you. If an appogiatura proceeds a dissonant note, then I play it before the beat. I played before the beat if I need to clarify the rhythm. Also I will talk a little bit more 
about trills and their use with appogiaturas below.

There's a wonderful saying--Italian saying--that is "traduttore, traditore" which means the translator is a traitor.
Here we have a century's old scandal that deals with the translation of the word "mordent."

The correct translation is that a mordent is an ornament below the main note. However, the English language tradition often refers to the ornament as being above the main note. It should not be confused with a short trill.

Let's take a look here at a publication of Julius Weissenborn's, Opus 8, volume 1. This was published in Leipzig probably almost a century ago. You can see here the German is given as "Der Pralltriller," however the English translation is "mordent."

Pralltriller should be translated a short trill not mordent.

Unfortunately this been continued--this tradition--in many of the Weissenborn books that we have. Christopher Schaub has a new Weissenborn, "New Practical Method for Bassoon" in which he correctly translates this. He shows "short trill" indicated by the sign without the dash through it. You can see here that is played upper,  played above the note.

There is the main note and then here the short trill goes to the upper note. A mordent, however, is usually indicated by the slash through the sign and in this case it should be played below the note.

Now in Baroque music the mordent, meaning the ornamental below the note, is the main ornament used. Very rarely do they use the short trill.

So it's important that when you apply the mordent that  you use the trill below the note.  (Not actually the trill, but the mordent below the note.)  OK, so let's go on an talk about the trill. So we have had the short trill. Now this is the trill where there are multiple movements above the main note. it is also often termed a "shake." 

It is always in alternation above the main note. Most often it's approached by an appogiatura and it is concluded with what is called a "nachschlage" or the termination notes.

Let's take a look at what Quantz shows here for the standard trill. Normally it would be written in music with the little grace note  before the trill. You can see it right here; and then the termination, the nachschlage, coming after the trill.

Occasionally the trill is written out with the notes a combined [connected] by beams.

Well, here are some suggestions as to how to apply appogiaturas to trills. [This being for Baroque music, that is.]

The exceptions are if that trill is already approached from above--that there's already a note before the trill--then I don't use in an appogiatura. If there is a leap of a four for more then often I will start on the main note.

Well I hope this is been helpful for you, just still learning a little bit more about ornaments. We will start now looking at music and hearing some playing in the following videos. For more information you can see of my web site where I've got some additional materials there.

God bless you, thanks a lot. 

<Music: “Il Sonno” from Vivaldi's Concerto for Bassoon “La Notte”>