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jennifer steinfeldt  warren

Assuming Characteristics for our Instruments' Role in Various Combinations?

August 23, 2012 at 5:08 PM

I wrote an embarrassingly long comment in a discussion section of, which is more suited to a verbose and unstructured venue of...of...(not blabbing since my mouth technically isn't opening and closing...WOW; but the equivalent of that in typed form... cyber-drivel..dribble... no quibble). Yes. It is one of those days. :) So..
I cut and pasted the comment to a blog.

RE: Playing String Trio Music and the Strange Nature of Finding a Role as the Inner Voice (as opposed to inner voices within quartets).

Oh, how my college professors would cry if they could see the inability to condense a title as such and my writing in general. *sigh. That is why this isn't college, yes?

Here is the copied free-association writing that served as a discussion comment from a topic regarding string trio literature:

"Wow, I have not checked in a few days and didn't expect this post to still be active; I was pleasantly surprised to find all sorts of great avenues to explore from the suggested music and sites. We played Haydn this past weekend and the Urtext of this particular set (it wasn't mine, which is the London trios set for two violins and cello) of divertimentos had one whole divertimento in alto clef with the rest in treble clef. Unfortunately the cello part for that one was a series of quarter notes that she was able to memorize as we were "reading"! But for the viola? Oh, what singing lines and beauty in the interplay of melodic gestures between violin and viola. With the cello keeping us nice and steady and giving me defined aural rhythmic stability, I was able to let go more and really sing. My weakness as a violist is actually rhythm and counting. If I'm playing first violin, that is not the case, but somehow, playing the inner voice wreaks havoc on my rhythmic reading abilities. I have yet to define EXACLY the nature and origin of this problem to fix it, as it seems to be only when playing viola or violin II. All of a sudden, as a professional with a Masters' degree, I find myself in a position where I am lost way too much of the time and get frustrated as to why...

I assume part of it is the confidence of the "role" each string section plays. When first violin, I have obvious leading roles and the writing reflects that as well as ensemble dynamics. As second violin in a quartet, you have a less charismatic "role", but it is still quite specific in nature, and you learn to listen to viola in a specific way in relation to the cello and first violin. In a trio.... I can't find the "role" and character and how to fit it in.

As well as not being able to sense timing, I find myself making elementary mistakes with things like double-timing, mis-counting when the music uses condensed rhtyhmic notation instead of ties or broken-up visual notation...

I know this is a bit off the original topic, but does anyone else have this problem or experience with it? Or have an idea as to why counting and rhythm would all of a sudden be proving to be a weakness in such an embarassing way just due to the instrumentation and where I sit within it???!! Perhaps I'll cut and paste this as a blog...

Thanks again for the recommendations and leads for music. There is one string trio piece we've played a few times that I cannot find anywhere as a recording to listen to. The music is a Peters' Edition, so it shouldn't be so hard to find! Anyhow.... it is J.N. Hummel Trio in GM. Everything is in German and there are alternate parts included (like two viola parts in case you can't find a violinist!!! Ha!). On the first page of the parts it says: "Joh. Nep. Hummel (1778-1837) but under it it says: "a.d.NachlaB herausg. v. Fritz Stein". I have guesses as to that, and have researched who J.N.Hummel is, but still can't find a RECORDING of this very pleasant piece.

Well. That is about five different tangeants in one "comment". Enough for now, eh?

Jennifer S. Warren"

The End.
If you Made it this far, reading... you deserve a prize :).

From Lisa Van Sickle
Posted on August 24, 2012 at 3:55 PM
Sounds like the urtext threw you under the bus. I have an IMC edition called "Three Divertimenti" and another group of three Haydn divertimenti from a Hungarian publisher. In both editions the viola parts are safely in alto clef!

The viola parts are interesting, to say the least. Sometimes you're allied with the violin, sometimes with the cello, sometimes you have a solo line while the violin & cello accompany. You can't just nod off and play a movement's worth of afterbeats. This may be where your cognitive dissonance is coming from. You see the name Haydn, you think you know what you're in for, but that's not it at all.

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