Tempo rubato

Tempo rubato

Tempo rubato (Italian "stolen time") is a musical term for slightly speeding up or slowing down the tempo of a piece at the discretion of the soloist or the conductor. It also requires the use of altering the relationships among the written note values and the played ones. While it is often associated with music of the Romantic Period, good classical performers frequently use it for emotional expressiveness (in all kinds of works) and to enhance/idealize the rhythm (softening edges), while remaining stylistically viable and in good taste.

Rubato, even when not notated, is often used liberally by musicians; e.g. singers frequently use it to let the tempo of the melody expressively shift slightly and freely (to and fro) above than that of the accompaniment. The shifting is used to reach the aim of rubato: to make music sound expressive and natural.
Frédéric Chopin is often mentioned in context with rubato (see Chopin and Rubato).


*"There is no absolute rhythm. In the course of the dramatic developments of a musical composition, the initial themes change their character, consequently rhythm changes also, and, in conformity with that character, it has to be energetic or languishing, crisp or elastic, steady or capricious."cite web|url=http://www.usc.edu/dept/polish_music/PMJ/issue/4.1.01/paderewskirubato.html|title=Tempo Rubato|author=Ignacy Jan Paderewski|publisher= Polish Music Journal, Vol. 4; No. 1; Summer 2001. ISSN 1521 - 6039]

*" [...] Rubato must emerge spontaneously from the music, it can't be calculated but must be totally free. It's not even something you can teach: each performer must feel it on the basis of his or her own sensitivity. There's no magic formula: to assume otherwise would be ridiculous. [...] " [cite web|url=http://www2.deutschegrammophon.com/special/insights.htms?ID=pollini-nocturnes|title=Maurizio Pollini|publisher= interviewed by Carsten Dürer (editor in chief of PIANONews) - Deutsche Grammophon]

*"Performers also frequently show a tendency to speed up and slow down when this is not indicated in the score. Such modifications of tempo typically occur in relation to phrase structure, as a way of marking phrase boundaries." [cite web|url=http://www.nici.kun.nl/mmm/papers/mmm-21/mmm-21.html|title=The influence of musical context on tempo rubato|author=Renee Timmers, Richard Ashley, Peter Desain, Hank Heijink|publisher=Journal of New Music Research 29 (2), 131-158]

*"Tempo Rubato is a potent factor in musical oratory, and every interpreter should be able to use it skillfully and judiciously, as it emphasizes the expression, introduces variety, infuses life into mechanical execution. It softens the sharpness of lines, blunts the structural angles without ruining them, because its action is not destructive: it intensifies, subtilizes, idealizes the rhythm. As stated above, it converts energy into languor, crispness into elasticity, steadiness into capriciousness. It gives music, already possessed of the metric and rhythmic accents, a third accent, emotional, individual, that which Mathis Lussy, in his excellent book on musical expression, calls l'accent pathètique."

*"Variations of Tempo, the ritardando, accelerando, and tempo rubato, are all legitimate aids demanded by Expression. [...] use is determined by sound judgment and correct musicianly taste [...] " [cite web|url=http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/21400|title=Style in Singing|author=W.E. Haslam|year=1911]

*about rubato: "many [...] hold very strange ideas about it. There are those who suffer with a technique too unreliable to keep them steady in prolonged rapid passages and when they run away with the tempo they palm their weakness off as "tempo rubato". Then there are those who believe that the use of tempo rubato begins with the works of Chopin and that it must not be employed in any music written before him. There are also the arch-pedants who insist that tempo rubato not only begins but also ends with Chopin's compositions. All of which is, of course, pure cant, the bulwark of ignorance and bigotry."cite web|url=http://www.archive.org/details/temporubatoother00sterrich|title=Tempo rubato, and other essays|author=Constantin von Sternberg (1852-1924)|year=c. 1920]

*"It is amusing to note that even some serious persons express the idea that in tempo rubato "the right hand may use a certain freedom while the left hand must' keep strict time." (See Niecks' Life of Chopin, II, p. 101.) A nice sort of music would result from such playing ! Something like the singing of a good vocalist accompanied by a poor blockhead who hammers away in strict time without yielding to the singer who, in sheer despair, must renounce all artistic expression."


ee also

* Tempo

External links


* [http://www.usc.edu/dept/polish_music/PMJ/issue/4.1.01/paderewskirubato.html Tempo Rubato] by Ignacy Jan Paderewski (Polish Music Journal Vol. 4; No. 1; Summer 2001. ISSN 1521 - 6039)
Chapter contributed to Henry T. Finck's book [http://www.archive.org/details/successinmusicho00fincrich Success in music and how it is won] (1909)
* [http://www.archive.org/details/temporubatoother00sterrich Tempo rubato, and other essays (c.1920)] Constantin von Sternberg (1852-1924)
* [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3612/is_200001/ai_n8886365/pg_1 Nineteenth-century Musical Agogics as an Element in Gerard Manley Hopkins' Prosody] by Christopher R. Wilson, Comparative Literature, 52/1 (Winter 2000), 72-86.

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  • tempo rubato — noun see rubato …   English new terms dictionary

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