Monday, August 30, 2004

The musical thief

Rubato is a term used in music to indicate a freer tempo. Rubato literally means in Italian " to rob." So what is stolen? The Harvard music dictionary indicates that rubato is a change in the underlying pulse to make it more flexible and that rubato has long been used as an expressive device. There are two types of rubato. One was used during the 18th century by composers such as C.P.E Bach and Mozart. This form of rubato involves maintaining a steady pulse with the accompaniment while the melody is slightly freer. The second type of rubato is more typical of present day music. This type of rubato involves changes in tempo and rhythmn without any compensation and was used by many 19th century musicians and composers including Liszt. So in other words, rubato is a robbery of rhythmn.

Source: The New Harvard Musical Dictionary, 4th ed. Editor: Don Randal Article: Rubato