Finally got into the accomp for “Mormorio,” more on renaissance violin bands

I haven’t written the viola staff down yet because … well, there’s no reason to at this point. I can hum the thing in my sleep. But at long last, I’ve got the piano part down up to the initial “ruscelli e fonti” part that moves into AM. It needs some more tweaking to bring out some of the pretty bits that catch the ear when a chamber orchestra does it, and I also embarrassingly added an extra triplet in the meter that needs to get gone. *sigh* It forces me to remeasure everything, but hopefully the downbeats will fall in nice places. I guess they will; that’s how Haendel wrote it, after all, and if anyone can be trusted to get this one right, it’s him.

Then, once it’s done and large enough to start getting unwieldy, I can start poking around in Lilypond and figure out how to do more than one part. Not looking forward to it, but it shouldn’t be too terribly painful.

Still thinking about Podcast 60 on RBP’s “Violin Adventures”, too. The more I think about it, the more the old violin bands sound like typical party bands of the sort that would play at a wedding reception. Even the on-the-arm technique of bowing and holding the instrument lets it sound more like what you’d need if people are dancing, laughing, talking, scraping chairs against the floor, possibly eating … You need a rougher-edged sound to be heard over that, and if the intonation is a bit off, well no one’s listening for it. They just want nice stuff to dance to.

It reminded me of the way that classical guitarists will hold a guitar versus many rock guitarists. Most classical players will sit or at least hold the thing up pretty high, which gives them nice strain-free mobility on the fretboard for virtuoso playing. A lot of rock and metal players will carry it very low; I think Neal Schon’s guitar is practically around kneecap-level. It’s much harder to play accurately like that and without strain, but it’s how it’s done in that world and it “looks cool.”

Same thing with renaissance violins and their country fiddle descendents. You don’t have six sour-faced Russian judges listening for mistakes while you’re playing; you have a roomful of your friends sharing beer and fries who are looking to enjoy themselves and possibly sing along if you play something they like.

Instruments are played in the manner that’s best for their individual context. There’s no one “right way” to play. It all depends on what you want to achieve. If intonation, subtlety, and clarity are most important and you’re playing for a picky, attentive audience, then you play on the shoulder. If you are looking for a sound that carries over conversation and dancing and the audience will be more welcoming and less nitpicky — and if it’s 1543 and you want to “look cool” to that girl in the front row giving you the eye — then you play on the arm.

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