Mise en place musicale

Discussion in 'French-English Vocabulary / Vocabulaire Français-Anglais' started by Big Roly, Jun 25, 2013.

  1. Big Roly Junior Member

    Watford, England
    UK: English
    Hello. Here's one for the music teachers among you. I'm translating a musical instrument guide, and I've run into the expression "mise en place musicale". (Context: "je vais vous guider pour acquérir une technique qui va faciliter la mise en place musicale.") I have Googled the term, and it crops up frequently, with regard to music education (e.g. "Le travail se fait en complémentarité avec le travail de mise en place musicale avec le chef de chant") - but what does it actually mean? ("Musical implementation" is too vague; it doesn't actually mean anything!)

    If you can help me, I shall be more grateful than you can imagine.

    Best wishes.

    Big Roly

  2. jann

    jann co-mod'

    English - USA
    Interesting question. I did a bunch of googling, and I noticed two things: first, that the vast majority of hits seem to be in reference to vocal music (though perhaps this reflects the relative prevalence of vocal vs. instrumental music in primary and secondary education in francophone countries?), and second, that there are relatively few hits from Canadian websites (thus defeating my attempt to find a bilingual Candian site that would provide a translation).

    I am getting the impression that we would often use the word rehearsal in English, the idea being that of the process by which an entire group -- the full choir/band/orchestra or the soloist + accompanist(s) -- comes together to make music under the guidance of a conductor. I see a number of essential characteristics included in the idea of mise en place musicale:
    - it cannot be done alone (whereas répétition could be individual practice)
    - it is a process that occurs during those scheduled events which, confusingly, we can also call rehearsals (des répétitions)
    - it is not something that happens during a concert or a performance

    Pedagogical documents intended for conductors/etc. and presenting suggestions for working through difficulties during la mise en place musicale make it clear that we can be talking about anything from a first readthrough to relatively advanced polishing of the ensemble's collective performance. Documents describing activities in an university-level opera workshop situate la mise en place musicale des solos et des ensembles after such things as learning individual parts, developing characters, learning about the setting of the opera as a whole, and establishing blocking (movement on stage), but before scene-by-scene detail work on music/staging, on-set work with scenery/lighting/costumes, or full dress rehearsals.

    So I come back to the idea of the word "rehearsal" in English, in the sense of the process and not the event. I think the French term may perhaps be a bit less generic, but I don't see what else we would say in English. I do have a music background, so that's not an uneducated guess, but it may be that I'm simply drawing a blank on some better translation that will be obvious once it's suggested.

    I hope other members will contribute here. :)
  3. Big Roly Junior Member

    Watford, England
    UK: English
    A monoglot French-speaker (the author of the text, as it happens) explained what he meant by "mise en place musicale", but I'm still no closer to translating the expression:

    La mise en place musicale, c'est choisir et maintenir un bon tempo, donner la bonne valeur à chaque note.

    ​Any takers?
  4. jann

    jann co-mod'

    English - USA
    Interesting, that sounds rather more specific that the usages I was finding. For example, this PDF about choral conducting has a section about la mise en place musicale that includes subsections about working through melodic and harmonic difficulties, in addition to those of rhythm and tempo.

    I can't think of a single English term that encompasses both (a) tempo and (b) rhythmic accuracy.

    On scoring rubrics for performance competitions, you'll sometimes see a single category for something like "rhythm: tempo and accuracy," indicating that the judge is supposed to consider both factors into that score, but we generally treat the two concepts as separate, if related.

    I think you might need to use a periphrase, with the exact wording depending on the particular sentence you need to translate.
  5. Big Roly Junior Member

    Watford, England
    UK: English

    That's what I have decided to do. After doing a lot of asking around, I finally arrived at the following:

    I will put you on the right path to acquire a technique that will help you fit your time and rhythm and note values into a structure.
  6. Docbike Senior Member

    english, UK
    "...your musicality"??
  7. jann

    jann co-mod'

    English - USA
    No, I'm afraid not. :) Musicality is another question entirely. It's a qualitative concept encompassing the ability to convey or elicit mood, feeling, and emotion through tone, dynamics, phrasing, and (when appropriate) a little liberty in tempo or even rhythm.

    In music education, we generally consider musicality and the more quantifiable question of technical proficiency separately. A person may have great musicality but need to improve on technical skills (accuracy of pitch, rhythm, notes, ability to maintain the speed of a fast tempo or the breath control required for a slower one, etc.). Conversely, a person with great technical skill who lacks in musicality can sound like a virtuoso robot.

    The mise en place musicale described by the author of Big Roly's document seems to be firmly on the side of technical proficiency, referring to the music director's task of coaching the ensemble to play each note at the right time and for the correct duration, with the entire thing at the proper tempo.

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