Dotted eighth-sixteenth vs. triplets?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by stewmuse, May 16, 2004.

  1. stewmuse

    stewmuse Pianissimo User

    Apr 28, 2004
    NW Chicago
    Having to play through many theme and variation pieces and older cornet solos with students, I'm coming almost completely to the opinion that the dotted eighth/sixteenth rhythms found in the triplet variations should be ignored and played triplet quarter and eighth.

    I remember many pieces in band and Arban's while growing up where my teacher(s) said to make a distinction between the two rhythms, but the more I play them, the less likely it seems that this was the true intention of the composer or correct style of the genre.

    Opinions? :?:

    MUSICandCHARACTER Forte User

    Jan 31, 2004
    Newburgh, Indiana
    Dr. Stewart,

    Which older cornet solos -- which genre? Certainly at a faster tempo in any genre the difference between the two could not be easily discerned. At a slower tempo, maybe. Ragtime is going to be different than marches for brass bands. And with the changes in notation over the years, the intent may be hard to discern.

    I doubt Mozart is played today like it was in his lifetime, for example.

  3. musicalmason

    musicalmason Forte User

    Dec 14, 2003
    my teacher always tells me to emphasize the upbeat on the dotted eighth-sixteenth as opposed to the downbeat on the triplet, this usually helps to achieve the difference, assuming Im articulation properly.
  4. Annie

    Annie Piano User

    Nov 13, 2003
    Anyone try putting it in finale and seeing if it plays a difference?
  5. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    Please keep in mind the fact that I have very little formal musical training as far as college courses are concerned, when you read my reply.

    There are two sides to this.

    On one hand, you could argue that if the composer wanted the rhythm to be a triplet feel, then the composer would have written it that way, so then the intent of the composer was to have the rhythm played as written, with a true dotted eighth/sixteenth feel.

    On the other hand, for ease of writing, and reading, the dotted eighth/sixteenth rhythm is going to be easier, even if the intent was for it to be played with a triplet feel, and the composer could have written it with that general feel or style in mind, with the intent that it would be played and performed with the triplet feel, and wasn't such a stickler to the "rules" of music.

    I have found over the years that in many aspects of written music, there are exceptions to the rules. Take swing for instance. There is a perfect example of music that is written to be played with a specific style in mind and not to the letter of the written note. Can you imagine doing a time warp to 250 years from now and hearing some of your favorite standard big band tunes being played straight!? Many of those tunes have no indicators that the rhythms are to be swung, it's just something that is "known" by the musicians that play them.

    stewmuse, you may be on to something there. For certain, at faster tempos it becomes increasingly difficult to make the distinction between the two rhythms, both as a player and as a listener, although in the learning phase at slower tempos, I almost think it would be a crime to allow a student to play a dotted eighth/sixteenth rhythm with a triplet feel, even if it would be something that would be allowed and even encouraged at faster, performance tempos.
  6. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    There probably would be a difference if you put it in Finale because Finale is going to play it perfectly, although I submit that to the listener, once the tempos got past a certain speed, they might have trouble discerning the difference.

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