chapter  6
14 Pages

Tempo and Duration in Heifetz’s Solo Bach

From a composer labelling a composition, to a performer deciphering a score or an analyst interpreting a composer’s intentions, ambiguity surrounds the communication of tempo. In contrast, a down-bow, a specific fingering, or a glissando can be indicated and interpreted relatively unambiguously. Tempo is communicated in three main ways: with a direction such as Lento, Allegro, or Presto, with a metronome marking, or through the inherent musical content, without written indication. On that third idea, Schenker made the following comment: ‘Tempo indications as such belong to that class of performance indications from which one cannot deduce the proper way of playing. The content itself, rather, should divulge how the required impression is to be evoked’.1