Note Grouping: A Method for Achieving Expression and Style in Musical Performance Paperback – 1 Aug 1982
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The reason I mention Hal, is because the approach to note grouping in this book is very similar in concept to Hals approach to creating melodic lines with forward motion. He would actually have you practice scales in a way that had forward motion by using approach notes and target notes, you wouldn't start on the tonic of the scale but would play "in approach" to the tonic.
I have been teaching people to improvise using these concepts since I took those lesson with Hal over 20 years ago. I know Hal has a book out called "Forward Motion" but I've not gotten to check it out yet but I'd be surprised if it also isn't fabulous.
Both Hal and this book "Note Groupings" are revelatory ways of looking at music.
Anyway, after reading "Note grouping" I was listening intensely to Alfred Brendel, whose one of my favorite pianists. I could hear him using "note grouping" in his playing. You can hear often hear him doing subtle crescendo's up to the last note before the downbeat of a measure and just as he reaches the down beat there is a feeling of dynamic resolution.
I think this book is a real eye opener, a way for musicians at all levels to learn to look at music in a way that will create more flow and dynamic (both in terms of dynamic level and also using rhythm dynamically in the agogic sense).
Thurmond's main point is that musicians can be taught to play/sing expressively, specifically with respect to rhythm.
Most amateur musicians have a tendency to play to the downbeat too forcefully and the preceding upbeat without proper emphasis, Thurmond theorizes. This postulate slowly is applied to larger and larger parts of the music, from the inner pulse to the common beat, back again to strong and weak measures, and even perhaps on a larger scale. In some ways it resembles a "Shenkerian" approach to rhythm.
Although this theory may sound confusing at first, Thurmond restates and clarifies each element with such incremental precision that it is relatively simple to follow.
Amateur musicians as well as professionals can benefit from this book, provided that the reader is able to read music and knows the difference between a downbeat and an upbeat (of course this disqualifies all trombone players--Just kidding). You will enjoy the insights in this book!
"Here in print are exactly the concepts I was taught by Robert Shaw and Julius Herford...it has had a profound influence upon music education everywhere!" Weston H. Noble Director of Music Activities, Luther College
Dr. Thurmond has had a profound impact on musicians all over the world. This book unlocks the secrets of playing musically. A must for all players and teachers!