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The Art of Accompanying and Coaching

The Art of Accompanying and Coaching

Kurt Adler
Copyright Date: 1965
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    The Art of Accompanying and Coaching
    Book Description:

    Kurt Adler, conductor and chorus master of the Metropolitan Opera, provides an authoritative guide to musical accompanying and coaching, profusely illustrated.

    eISBN: 978-1-4529-3731-1
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-2)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 3-6)

    In writing a book for which there is no precedent (the last textbooks about accompanying were written during the age of thorough bass or shortly thereafter — the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries — and dealt exclusively with the problems timely then) one must make one’s own rules and set one’s own standards. This freedom makes the task somewhat easier, if, on the one hand, one looks to the past: there is no generally approved model to be followed and to be compared with one’s work; but, on the other hand, the task is hard because one’s responsibility to present...

  4. 1 The Historical Background of Accompanying
    (pp. 7-17)

    Accompanying is almost as old as mankind. We may assume that the cave man, when he discovered his voice, used it to terrorize his enemies by yelling, and employed softer vocal colors to woo his spouse. Soon, however, he learned that he could be more terrifying to his foes if he underlined his stentorian outbursts by beating out rhythms on some such percussive object as a hollowed-out tree trunk. In more tender moments, his cave woman may have tried to follow his singing by blowing into a dried animal bone, or may even have collected bones of deceased and devoured...

  5. 2 The Historical Background of Coaching
    (pp. 18-20)

    Coaching is very recent in the history of music. Its beginnings can be traced back only to the introduction of vocal monody and the appearance of the first operas, roughly around 1600. Then, for the first time in history, large casts and choral masses, orchestras, dancers, and all kinds of complicated if very naive technical effects had to be coordinated and rehearsed. The maestro al cembalo had his hands full and needed assistance. How did he recruit his assistants? Where did he find them? Well, in the beginning of opera a musician had to be everything at once: composer, arranger,...

  6. 3 The Mechanics of Musical Instruments
    (pp. 21-42)

    The accompanist and coach must first of all know the mechanics of the musical instruments he plays — the piano, the organ, and the small group of keyboard instruments used in orchestras for opera or for choir practice, such as the celesta and the harmonium. It is amazing how little most pianists, even professionals, know about the construction and mechanics of their instrument. A driver of an automobile — in this country — need not know how the motor works; the next mechanic is usually just around the corner. But the ability to repair a motor or an instrument’s mechanism...

  7. 4 Phonetics and Diction in Singing
    (pp. 43-47)

    Which is more important, the words or the music? To this day, the old argument has lost nothing of its ardor, its vehemence, its partisanship, and above all its emotional aspects and its question mark.

    Truly, which of the two arts is more important when combined in a vocal composition? The question has occupied many great creative artists and many of their utterances about this problem could be quoted. But it may be best to let a great musician take the rostrum. At an age when wisdom and experience become molded into serene impartiality, Richard Strauss undertook to cast this...

  8. 5 Italian Phonetics and Diction
    (pp. 48-64)

    I have said before that the Italian needs only seven different vowel sounds to form words and sentences in his language. These vowel sounds are the purest of any language and the most easily produced. This purity, free from any disfiguring diphthongization, is the main reason for the undisputed position of Italian as the most musical language in the world. Vowels are only infrequently interspersed with consonants. Diphthongization is practically unknown. All this creates the basis for the bel canto style of singing which is predominant today in America. It is quite possible to adjust even French and German words...

  9. 6 French Phonetics and Diction
    (pp. 65-88)

    French is a much more complicated language, phonetically, than Italian. This will become evident to anybody who compares the number of phonetic vowel sounds. There are sixteen such sounds in French, fifteen in English, fourteen in German, seven in Italian.

    The English-speaking singer will find the whole group of vowels, as well as the array of velar (nasal) sounds which are so characteristic of the French, difficult to master. Other problems, to name but a few, are the h and r sounds, the semivowels, and the liaisons.

    A conscientious accompanist and coach must have a thorough working knowledge of French,...

  10. 7 Spanish Phonetics and Diction
    (pp. 89-91)

    As is true of all other European languages, the variety of Spanish dialects is great, extending not only to the frontiers of the Iberian peninsula but to Central and South America as well. The cultured singer of Spanish music will restrict his diction to two main dialects. When he sings songs written in Spain or by Spanish composers and poets he will employ the Castilian pronunciation. When he sings Spanish music from the Western hemisphere he will use a somewhat different pronunciation. And even here, the diction varies: Argentinians or Chileans pronounce certain sounds quite differently from, for instance, Mexicans....

  11. 8 German Phonetics and Diction
    (pp. 92-110)

    Though we are confined in Italian and French to tradition and experience as our supreme law for phonetics and diction, we can base our rules for German diction on an officially sanctioned publication,Deutsche Bühnenaussprache-Hochsprache, by Theodor Siebs, which was published and republished at the initiative of the Association of German Theatrical Stages and the German Actors Union. It numbers among its contributors the foremost experts in phonetics and stage diction, and deals with singing diction as well. The accompanist or coach who wants to give his pupils an authoritative account will do well to own the book. My experience...

  12. 9 Elements of Musical Style
    (pp. 111-170)

    Musical style belongs to the branch of philosophy called aesthetics and, in particular, to musical aesthetics. Though theoretical speculation about this subject does not lie within the scope of this book, a few basic concepts will have to be explained briefly.

    Music consists of musical matter cast into form. Musical matter, in turn, isallthe musical sounds which, combined and taken together, give us an audible sensation of music. The smallest unit is the single tone, which can be augmented by loudness or by duplication in instrumentation, and also coupled with other tones so as to form intervals, chords,...

  13. 10 Program-Building
    (pp. 171-181)

    The building of a recital program is one of the most difficult and responsible tasks of an accompanist or a coach. The right program can make an artist; the wrong one — even wrong only in part or in a single number — can break him for a long time, if not forever.

    Into successful programing goes an immense sum of experience in the psychology of audiences, a feeling for the weak points of the artist, and a knowledge of the artist’s best instrumental or vocal features. Every artist, even the greatest, has some technical or interpretative deficiencies. There are...

  14. 11 The Art of Accompanying and Coaching
    (pp. 182-240)

    What I have said thus far should have shown how much knowledge is necessary to form the basis on which the art of the accompanist and coach will grow. Those who read the introduction will recall my attempt to have them realize how elusive the meaning of the word “art” is, and how difficult it is to describe artistry adequately. The specific art of accompanying and coaching lies in the ability to deeply feel the soloist’s intentions and his artistry; to attune oneself to his artistic style; to recognize his artistic shortcomings and to make up for them by extending...

  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 243-245)
  16. Index
    (pp. 246-260)