Furthermore, as Albert B. Bach (1883) states:
Portamento has its place chiefly in pieces in which tender sentiment is to be expressed; yet in the representation of violent passions, and in the delineation of gloom, not less than of the serene, and even in the recitativo, it may not always be dispensed with. The artist’s taste has in most cases to decide where portamento may be employed. Expressiveness is both the object and the effect of the portamento, no matter whether love, grief, or joy be the emotions to be characterised. Still, as observed above, tender sentiment can least do without it.51
I asked musicians if they felt that portamento was a relevant expressive device for various characters in music, and if so, which type of portamento might be most appropriate for each character. I summarise the results below:
Some musicians said they would use a fast slide speed, some said to use a slow drawn-out slide with rubato, and many said to use lots of or increasing bow pressure or air flow during the slide.
Some associated this character with the perceived late-19th-century Franco-Belgian style of playing and therefore would use destination-finger shifts, generally with less but steady bow speed and air flow but a variety of bow pressure, and sometimes with a slide that has a faster beginning with slowing at the end.
Many found that this character had similarities to “sentimental,” and indicated a slow to moderate slide speed, maybe with a subtler slide (i.e. lighter life-hand finger pressure during the slide), with decreased bow speed and pressure during the slide (or flautando effect). Slides on descending 4ths or 6ths could also be appropriate to create a sighing effect in this character.
Some think that portamento is not very appropriate in faster or joyful music but others had definite answers for portamenti in this character, such as rapid and light slides, sometimes increasing the speed of slide during the portamento, quick bow speed and possibly light bow pressure. Increased bow pressure and slow bow speed with a drawn-out slide can also be useful for particularly comical or farcical moments. The Corri leaping grace also seems quite appropriate in singing joyful and playful music.
It seems that portamento are thought of as generally not very appropriate in solemn music, but if used, one could use discreet slow slides with steady bow speed and pressure. Unlike the majority of those surveyed, Stam suggested “languid” and “drawn-out” slides, that may not be so discreet in contrast to other views.
Brown described the possibility of using intense and sometimes increasing or decreasing bow pressure with vibrato for a passionate character. All musicians surveyed generally found rubato integral to executing portamento, although maybe not in solemn passages, while Stam believes that “you can use portamento in any context.”
Question 5: Expressive fingering choices for the opening of Schubert’s Violin Sonata in A Major, Op. 162