Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Quarter Note

I have been known to malign the quarter note, even in print.  In fact, back in the 80's I envisaged a formal "happening" in which people stationed all over New York, on bridges, in parks, on balconies and overlooks, each carrying an inflated balloon on which was emblazoned a single quarter note would, on a given signal, explode their balloon (i.e., their quarter note) once and for all.

We have been quarter-noted to death.

Until Haydn comes along to save the poor maligned beastie.

For there they are, the darlings, underlying Haydn minuets like you wouldn't believe but--and there's the catch--only if articulated, exaggerated, elevated to unimaginable importance. 

Take any Haydn minuet; play the quarter notes emphatically, detached (not the same as staccato), all of equal importance.  Caution: a quarter note slurred to another quarter note ain't no real quarter note but a half-note that slips out of joint onto a shadow pitch.  Listen to the quarter notes strut their inflated egos up and down across all registers and beats, ignoring stop signs (double bars) and just generally getting in the way. 

If this doesn't vitalize the minuet please send me an email and complain.