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Will the turn ever return?


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Author Topic: Will the turn ever return?  (Read 706 times)
guest54
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« on: September 19, 2015, 08:29:38 am »



Many of the greatest composers' greatest and most expressive moments involve at the crucial point a turn. Where turns are concerned we think for instance of Bach, Liszt, and Wagner. But since around 1908 there has been a great paucity of turns and indeed consequently a great paucity of great and expressive moments in music.

Why do modern composers not realize how impoverished their technique has become in the absence of turns?

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ahinton
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« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2015, 03:26:42 pm »



Many of the greatest composers' greatest and most expressive moments involve at the crucial point a turn. Where turns are concerned we think for instance of Bach, Liszt, and Wagner. But since around 1908 there has been a great paucity of turns and indeed consequently a great paucity of great and expressive moments in music.

Why do modern composers not realize how impoverished their technique has become in the absence of turns?
Turns such as you mention here are just one of so very many expressive devices in music that the suggestion that composers who don't use them in the way portrayed here are in any sense "impoverished" is, frankly, a nonsense. Not only that, the turn as was once denoted by a symbol above a note that was to be "turned on", so to speak, hardly died because composers largely ceased to use that symbol; think of the many so many examples in the music of the 19th century in particular, not least Schumann and Brahms - and, as an early 20th century instance, have another listen to Das Lied von der Erde and its composer's slightly later Ninth Symphony or, as a late 19th century one, the inverted turns in the opening part of the "Hero's Beloved" section of Strauss's Ein Heldenleben (and these are just a tiny number of cases selected entirely at random on the spur of the moment). I even use such figurations myself on occasion when the music demands it, but never notated with the turn symbol.
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guest54
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« Reply #2 on: September 26, 2015, 09:19:35 am »

Here is the famous and riveting "Parsifal turn" from Wagner's third act:

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guest54
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« Reply #3 on: September 26, 2015, 09:22:39 am »

This is possibly the most beautiful melody written in the nineteenth century - the third movement of Brahms's third symphony. Note how the cellos execute their turn in two slightly different rhythms.

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guest54
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« Reply #4 on: September 26, 2015, 09:25:11 am »

And Bach of course constructed entire movements out of his turns. Here is the Gloria from the Mass in F. No composer has equalled him since.

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Neil McGowan
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« Reply #5 on: September 26, 2015, 12:17:02 pm »

Ah yes, 'old Kllingsor' was fond of a turn, now and again Smiley

Indeed, he makes listeners wait the whole 5+ hours of TRISTAN & ISOLDE for the series of them in the Liebestod Smiley

There's also another Wagnerian turn that becomes a motivic figure in the main aria (and thus in the overture too) from RIENZI.

I'm not at my full-size computer today, so uploading musical examples will have to wait for another time...
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ahinton
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« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2015, 10:11:49 pm »

Ah yes, 'old Kllingsor' was fond of a turn, now and again Smiley

Indeed, he makes listeners wait the whole 5+ hours of TRISTAN & ISOLDE for the series of them in the Liebestod Smiley

There's also another Wagnerian turn that becomes a motivic figure in the main aria (and thus in the overture too) from RIENZI.

I'm not at my full-size computer today, so uploading musical examples will have to wait for another time...
That's very much the point (or at least mine in response to the OP); whilst it is just one of so very many expressive devices in music, has it ever really "gone away"? I've certainly used it when necessary, although I've not thought about it consciously...
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autoharp
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« Reply #7 on: September 28, 2015, 08:48:59 pm »

A modern example - sort of . . .

Opening of the Inspector Montalbano theme.



Not its classical usage, of course.
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ahinton
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« Reply #8 on: September 28, 2015, 09:35:27 pm »

A modern example - sort of . . .

Opening of the Inspector Montalbano theme.



Not its classical usage, of course.
No, but originating in / deriving from it nonetheless, surely? - on the grounds of which it might still be said that the great big world continues to turn (pace Nathaniel Davis Ayer [1887 1952] /  Percival Davis aka F.[?] Clifford Grey [1887-1941]).

Also, for another example of the turn in 20th-century action, try the "Beedle dee-dee-dee-dee" figure in the song Two Ladies from Cabaret (John Harold Kander [1927- ] / Fred Ebb [1928-2004]) as musically victimised in the unpronounceable (if not quite unplayable) piano work Cabaraphrase, described by its composer as less of an operatic transcription and more of an apoplectic transgression...
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