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The Brahmsian Hairpin

The Brahmsian Hairpin Abstract Hairpins, the notation symbols < and >, are today universally accepted as equivalent to the markings crescendo and diminuendo , calling for an increase or decrease in volume. This view is irreconcilable with the scores of the core German repertoire of the nineteenth century. This article offers a new understanding of hairpins based on careful examination of the scores of Brahms and of early-twentieth-century recordings by artists close to him. In Brahms's milieu hairpins did not prescribe sounds, but rather described meanings. The difference between prescription and description is central, suggesting that instead of “growing louder/quieter,” hairpins are better understood as “becoming more/less.” The means by which “more/less” was realized by nineteenth-century musicians included many techniques beyond dynamics, most notably agogic inflection. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png 19th-Century Music University of California Press

The Brahmsian Hairpin

19th-Century Music , Volume 36 (1) – Jul 1, 2012

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Publisher
University of California Press
Copyright
© 2012 by the Regents of the University of California
ISSN
0148-2076
eISSN
1533-8606
DOI
10.1525/ncm.2012.36.1.046
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Abstract Hairpins, the notation symbols < and >, are today universally accepted as equivalent to the markings crescendo and diminuendo , calling for an increase or decrease in volume. This view is irreconcilable with the scores of the core German repertoire of the nineteenth century. This article offers a new understanding of hairpins based on careful examination of the scores of Brahms and of early-twentieth-century recordings by artists close to him. In Brahms's milieu hairpins did not prescribe sounds, but rather described meanings. The difference between prescription and description is central, suggesting that instead of “growing louder/quieter,” hairpins are better understood as “becoming more/less.” The means by which “more/less” was realized by nineteenth-century musicians included many techniques beyond dynamics, most notably agogic inflection.

Journal

19th-Century MusicUniversity of California Press

Published: Jul 1, 2012

Keywords: early recordings performance practice notation hairpins performance Brahms

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