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Topic: Implementing fermata in a DAW?

  1. #1

    Question Implementing fermata in a DAW?

    Is there, I wonder, any sort of rule for how much a fermata should slow a piece of music, i.e. a multiplier of the note duration over which the fermata is placed?

    I am trying to realise an accompaniment track for my wife, an operatic mezzo, of the third aria from the Bach Cantata No.82, "Schlummert ein, ihr matten Augen fallet sanft und selig zu." I've transcribed the vocal line up an octave for her.

    However the original http://petrucci.mus.auth.gr/imglnks/...38-BWV0082.pdf, see page 37 to 42, has many fermatas (fermati?) in measures 20, 25, 36, 58, 64 and the repeat.

    When entering tempo changes into DAW software to implement these, I'm never quite sure what to put, that is by how much should I cut the tempo? Should there be a slight slow down in tempo before the fermata, etc.? I've done some trial and error in previous realisations of fermata but never been completely convinced with the results.

    I should be very interested if anyone could give me any pointers.

    Many thanks,
    Author of MIDI tutorials at http://midi-tutor.proboards.com/index.cgi

  2. #2
    Senior Member Frank D's Avatar
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    Apr 2006
    Suburban NYC

    Re: Implementing fermata in a DAW?

    Hi SEJ ...

    Since I mostly live outside the classical world, I don't know if there are expected or calculated dwells for fermatas in classical pieces.

    Outside of classical music, it's really very interpretive. Three consecutive quarter notes, each with a fermata, would not necessarily be held the exact same times.

    I can help with a tip, since I just created several fermatas for my Christmas arrangement. I found I needed to shorten the held note slightly so I could get a clean ending to the held note before the next note played. And since the length of time the note actually sounds is created by the slower tempo under it, you'd never know the note is shortened.

    In the past, I have sometimes retarded going into the fermata, but other times not.

    To me, fermatas are strictly "by ear" ... if it sounds right to my interpretation, then it's right!

    Good luck,

    Frank D'Erasmo
    FABD Music - Arrangements-Orchestrations
    All Styles ... Specializing in Jazz, Theater, Latin & Pop

    Garritan JaBB, GPO, CoMB, World, GAS, Stradivari Violin & GigaStudio. Sonar X2 Producer, Pro Tools, Performer & Finale.

  3. #3

    Re: Implementing fermata in a DAW?

    As Frank said, it's entirely by ear. What feels right. A sense of tempo is just one of those things you have to develop, if you don't have it naturally. Conductors differ wildly on tempo. When a tempo is "wrong" to my ear, I can't listen to a piece. most of the time, they get it right enough, but every now and then you hear a piece that is just way too slow, or way to fast. As for fermatas, ritardandos, caesuras, etc., they too are entirely subjective. It is an artistic judgment, part of a feel for form.

  4. #4

    Re: Implementing fermata in a DAW?

    Thank you Frank and Michael, (my word that was a quick response!)

    I have two recordings, one with Janet Baker, the other from Rilling's box set of the entire cantatas with a bass singing.
    They take the piece at an almost identical tempo with the fermata, again, very close in slowdown of tempo.

    I suppose one thing to do would be to run them through Zynewave Podium and see if I can create a tempo map from one or other of them. then see if I can learn from that whether they seem to obey any kind of rules.

    Interesting that all of these fermata have a quarter note pause after them in all excepting one instance (measure 36) which has the continuo leading into the start of the next measure.

    Goodness! The cantata Ich habe genug (BWV82) just bowls me over. But then I'm a Bach nut!

    Thanks again.
    Author of MIDI tutorials at http://midi-tutor.proboards.com/index.cgi

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