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Mendy Smith

Twists and Turns

July 5, 2010 at 5:16 AM

I love holiday weekends.  It is a time to revisit old pieces and explore new ones. 

This weekend was a special one.  My best friend and stand-partner moved in last week and this was our first time to fiddle around together in a long time.  It was a joy to listen to him play through my viola repertoire and play some old familiar tunes together.  We also had the chance to try out some unfamiliar pieces. 

Michael Daughtery's "Viola Zombies" was by far my favorite.  The underlying theme is from the "Twilight Zone" with various twists and turns.  It is not a very difficult piece to play if you exclude going from col legno to ordinary to sul ponticello and back again.  In the front of the piece there are instructions to the performers to play exactly 12 feet apart from each other for maximum stereo effect, as well as notations throughout the piece that refer to some unusual styles, such as "jerks of rigor mortis".

We also gave the Handel-Halvorsen Passacaglia a spin.  I played this piece before a few years ago at Interlochen on viola.  This time, I tried my hand at the violin part.  I soon became lost in the multitude of ledger lines.  At last count, there was 6 of said lines with and 8va mark above them.  If I judged correctly, that put me well beyond the end of the fingerboard.

To wrap up our musical weekend together, we sight read some Mozart violin/viola duets with me on violin once again.  Sight reading on violin (vs. the more familiar viola) exposed my weaknesses in sight reading.  I'm focused more on trying to make the right notes (on the right string) rather than the beat, which means that even if I get the notes right, they are wrong by the time I play them.  At one point I gave up trying to sight read some passages and simply sang them instead, sort of .  I'm a terrible singer.  I won't even mention counting in 4 when I should have been counting in 3!!! 

One more thing to work on before my sight reading extravaganza (aka Interlochen).


From Marsha Weaver
Posted on July 6, 2010 at 4:53 PM

Mendy, your blogs are so much fun! :)

Sight reading is one of the major banes of my existence, too.  Good luck and have fun at Interlochen!


From Tom Holzman
Posted on July 6, 2010 at 8:31 PM

A fun blog.  But, the title "Viola Zombies"?  Isn't that redundant (lol).

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