May 2004

Words to Sing to Vivaldi A minor

May 13, 2004 21:25

By request, I subject you to this bit of ridiculousness. It’s pretty funny actually, something from the Suzuki world: the "words" to the first movement of the Vivaldi A Minor concerto. Who wrote these? I do not know, but I got them from Jim and Jackie Maurer of Aurora, Colorado. They are likely an amalgamation of many ideas. So here they are:

The Words to Vivaldi A Minor:

This is Vivaldi’s A minor, A minor, A minor
that is the name of this famous concerto.

And what I’m playing now is called the tutti
what I’m playing now is called the tutti
what I’m playing now is called the tutti
what I’m playing now is called the tutti.

There are a lot of re-
There are a lot of re-
There are a lot of repeated phrases here,

And what is difficult
And what is difficult
And what is difficult is remembering which of them comes next.

Now starts my solo violin, violin, violin part
and the orchestra tries to drown me out.

Then here comes a diff’rent, here comes a diff’rent,
here comes a diff’rent part from what we played a while ago.

Now this part is easy, but I’m still scared because in a moment comes a crazy mixed up kind of mess.

The orchestra plays this, orchestra plays this, orchestra plays this but I strum along to keep my place.

Oh dear, Oh me, Oh golly gee I should have practiced carefully,
I’m trying to keep going but I’m mixed up in my bowing,
And what’s worse after another verse it’s going even more perverse
Oh dear, Oh me, Oh golly gee, and now comes that high “D”
Missed. Forget it, carry on.

This is what is called a se-
This is what is called a se-
This is what is called a se-
This is what is called a se-
This is what is called a se-
This is what is called a se-
This is what is called a sequence.

Phew. After this next part back comes the “tutti”
So I don’t need to play so good, cos’ no-one hears at all.

This next tune sounds familiar, and there is a reason
because it’s the same that I played at first I think.

No, this part starts upo-n a-n “E”
I think it’s in ano-the-r key
Yes, that is what the a-nswer must be
Thank God I studied The-or-y.

So down bows and up bows, down bows and up bows,
Down bows and up bows…good

Yes I think that I’m going now to make it.
If not then I hope that I can Fake it.

All these notes, notes, notes repeated can make you
sleepy I know, coz I play them so,
All these notes, notes, notes repeated again
and what they are for, I just do not know,
All these notes, notes, notes, just rambling along,
can’t make up their minds where they want to go.

Now I wonder if I dare look at the audience,
all those faces looking up at you can make you tense
Just imagine they are cabbages upon a fence.

This line’s marked “Largamente” it sounds real weird
This line’s marked “Largamente” it sounds real weird,
Well who cares, coz I’m coming to the last page.

Here comes that same old tune once again, and again, and again,
That’s the last time you’ll here it

All this changing strings and stuff
I think it’s sounding pretty rough
I practice it a million ways
But still I cannot play this phrase
I’ll have to look as if I’m playing
How about a bit of swaying, think I’ll get away
With it, Oh no. I think I’m getting faster
This is very hard to master
Positive I’m getting faster
Changing string so fast is tricky
When your fingers are so sticky
All the time you’re getting higher
Wish it didn’t sound so dire
Bow and fingers out of sync.
Can really land you in the drink
But now I really think the worst is done.

I’m on the last lap now, I’m on the last lap now,
I’m on the home straight now, and could this be the end,
No there’s more yet.
I never thought I’d make it but I’m nearly at the end
I’m very happy to have managed it, I must be round the bend,
Because apart from all the worry and the work that I have done
I think that playing on the violin is fun.
Oh yes I think it’s fun
Now that at last I’m done
And if you don’t much care for the way I played
You know what you can do
You know what you can do
You know what you can do
You can play it yourself next time, GOOD NIGHT.

Editor's note (12/10/2011): I just received an e-mail from the person who wrote these words! Michael J. Clarke says, "It was composed for a party held in S.I.U.E. Edwardville for the graduate students of John Kendall in 1982. I performed it accompanied by Linda Perry. Subsequently, a copy of the text got circulated through the program. It was composed during the part preparations after a recital I had just given. It is public domain and everyone is welcome to use it! I introduced Suzuki to Iceland, but now work as a singer and voice teacher. Good luck!" Thank you to Mr. Clarke!

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May 8, 2004 15:49

“Feels bad, sounds good.”

That’s what Maestro Jorge Mester told us folks in the Pasadena Symphony last night as we finally put together one of the myriad ill-fitting puzzle pieces of the “Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta” by Bela Bartok. It was a long night, and Jorge had his hands full, putting many such puzzle pieces in place. He is doing a heroic job, IMO.

Make no mistake, this is a cool piece. A really cool piece. But for us musicians, it’s a bit of a “Feel-Bad” piece. Despite quite a lot of individual and collective practice (and some awesome soloists on piano, celesta and percussion), it remains a challenge.

Jorge gave me an idea with his above comment; I thought I’d describe how it feels to play this piece, from my humble perspective in the FOURTH violins section! So here goes:

I. Andante tranquilo

This is a meterless and meandering movement, which changes with every measure. It feels a little like the first movement of the Bartok Opus Posthumous violin concerto, which I have studied and like quite a lot. But the concerto feels more comfy to me. This movement is rather exposed. How does that feel? Well, like that typical dream people have; you have gone to school or work only to discover that you are not wearing a stitch of clothing. You try to play it cool, to stand behind a plant or drape something conveniently about yourself, but the only thing you can think of is the fact that you aren’t wearing any clothes, and that at some point, someone might start noticing.

II. Allegro

This feels like a fly is zooming uncontrollably and wildly about the room, and your job is to catch it with your bare hands, but not to kill it.

III. Adagio

In this dream you also forgot to put on any clothes, and you are walking on a tightrope, strung between two large skyscrapers, with no net below.

IV. Allegro molto

The fly from the second movement has now grown to be the size of Mothra, and it is chasing you. It chases you up stairways that have locked doors at the end, through mazes and tunnels. You keep bumping into dead ends, turning around, going another way, counting randomly placed measures in quick five. In the end the giant fly swallows you alive, smiles and lets out a big burp.

Well, it’s time to get dressed for the concert! See you on the other side!

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