How to Count 2/4 Dvorak 8th Symphony mov II

Discussion in 'Music Theory [DB]' started by CaseyVancouver, Jul 21, 2021.

  1. CaseyVancouver


    Nov 4, 2012
    Please enlighten me.

    I’m playing Dvorak 8th with my symphony in a few days. I’ve played it before and wondered the same questions in the past.

    How do you count the adagio second movement in 2/4? Count 1,2,3,4 or 1,and,2,and? Either way this piece is an exercise in counting for me.

    It is so slow, I have had best success counting 1,2,3,4. My mind is open though.

    In ‘Rhythmic Training’ by Robert Starer he says the conductor motions down for one and up for two in 2/4. But no conductor keeps this Dvorak movement simple. They all wave their arms around flamboyantly, like they are trying to kill a wasp with their baton. Lots of passages speed up and slow down. And I lose the count then rely on my ears on what is going on around me. I glance at the conductor and he is spelling out the alphabet with his baton. Who knows where one is.

    I would rather be counting confidently.

    One conductor has generically said count whatever works for you. And why is this movement written in 2/4 and not 4/4? To me it sounds 4/4.

    Last edited: Jul 21, 2021
  2. salcott

    salcott Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2007
    NYC, Inwood.
    Written in 2, conducted/counted in 4. I don't know why so many slow movements are notated this way; I just shift the mental gears and play. There's going to be rubato-lots of it. Get a score and listen to a recording. The melodic parts are not complicated rhythmically, and once you have them in your head, putting the bass notes in the right place becomes much easier.
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  3. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011

    The rhythms are actually fairly basic. Once you get used to seeing this tempo written at this level of subdivision, it will seem easy.

    I am not a pure orchestral bassist, so I would say the subdivision shown is one level beyond what I am used to seeing; I.E. eighth note equals quarter note. As @salcott said, it's written in two but counted in four.

    It's even more confusing when the subdivision is two levels beyond what you are used to seeing; I.E. 32nd note equals quarter note, and AFAIK this level of subdivision is not all that unusual in symphonic literature.

    What I do when faced with something like this is go through and count all the subdivisions, so I really understand what I am looking at. Then I penciled in vertical hash marks to show where the beats are (as needed). I only add the hash marks over measures where I find the notation confusing.

    I also agree that the rubato aspect will likely be the most challenging part. Reviewing the score and adding additional cues from other instruments can be helpful.
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  4. CaseyVancouver


    Nov 4, 2012
    @salcott and @Wasnex, helpful advice! Thank you.
    It’s a fun piece with lots going on and I’m feeling good about my part. We will be playing outside.

    With a combination of careful counting, being familiar with my part, the other players parts, and watching the conductor it will go fine. For this movement I’m going to watch the conductor like a hawk.
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