Unusual/Abstract Time Signatures

just for the joy of discussion, let’s play this argument a bit further.
Here’s Thomas Adès - Traced Overhead for piano, including the score.

To my ears, the piece sounds like any free-time improvisation or a fluid interpretation of a classically notated work.
The complexity of the notation seems irrelevant to the outcome. What I mean is, you can’t tell that this particular type of notation has been used, because the same musical expression could have been achieved with other simpler means.

Case in point, Chopin’s piano works achieve equal rhythmic complexity merely through interpretation.
The underlying notation is much simpler and easier to read.

Yes, composers who think they are being innovative because they use writing methods that LOOK different from the traditional notational methods-- that is, who use curved staves, cut-a-way scores, irrational time signatures, feathered beams, etc., etc., etc.-- are IMHO missing the whole point of musical innovation, which has to do with SOUND.

I know that in some minds that labels me as being from a couple of centuries ago, at least, but so be it. Perhaps I am.


And with that “simpler” notation, who knows whether ANY of the hundreds of different “interpretations” correspond to what Chopin actually had in mind?

(I have very little respect for the so-called “traditions” passed down from teacher to pupil in Western music education - in other words, the only way to “play Chopin correctly” is to be a pupil of a pupil of a pupil … of Chopin himself. That’s demagoguery, not music education!)

That’s why it’s called “interpretation” not “rendition”. Chopin expected his music to be interpreted. This was the norm at that time. So no, there was never only one proper way to play it. OTOH, excessively complex notation like Adès’ doesn’t leave much room for a personal touch. It’s a performer’s straight jacket, where precision becomes the main objective.

Sugar, buddy, if you were alive in the 19th century you would be complaining about Chopin right in the first Nocturne. The desire to push bounds is truly what unites artists across time — but so does the absolute opposite reaction. Since you were not alive in the 19th century, you’re here, now, engaging the music of a piano wunderkind who decided in his teens he was going to be a composer instead, sat down, and started revealing such a clear musical imagination in a Opus 1 with technical resources so elegantly he’s still exploiting them right now twenty years later, all based on a superficial listen of a YouTube video. If it wasn’t a superficial listen, perhaps you would know that these kinds of time signatures are used exclusively in Aetheria, a movement that is otherwise conventionally notated. And if you still think that rhythmic language can still be accommodated within the framework of Chopin’s music and interpretative practice, then I don’t know what to tell you but to check out Adès’ Three Mazurkas, if it’s score videos you like.

You don’t have to listen (nor read) Adès. You don’t have to like it or even to know it, acknowledge it or understand it. What you should do, however, is get out of the way of a fellow forum member, one who came to us asking for help in realizing an earnest creative impulse.

LSalgueiro, if I offended you in any way, I am sorry.

No offense taken, just like I did not want to offend — and hopefully I did not. I think it’s a silly thing to discuss when we could be helping someone compose, that’s all. As a composer, let me tell you that it’s often better to let a piece grow on paper and fail afterwards. You learn more from it. Let him exercise his creativity. And hopefully you got something out of the Adès, even if you object to the way it’s notated.

No hard feeling here either. I think it’s a beautiful thing, when people are passionate about musical notation and expression. Strong opinions, strong emotions unavoidably leading to disagreements, it’s how it’s supposed to be. Peace.