July 2010

Y Composer

July 28, 2010 20:44

It has been several months since I started my Z-A composer goal.  I've been working on a piece composed by Zelter for the past few months.  It is much like Hoffmeister in style so was familiar in several ways.  However after three months on Z, I deemed it time to move onto Y.

I first ordered a Sonata by Ysaye.  However when it finally arrived I had to do a double take.  I had never seen a piece before that was written in two staves for viola before (one in alto and one in treble clef to be played at the same time).  I tried to play through the piece a few times at a greatly reduced tempo and decided that it should be put into my bucket list pile along with the Bartok and Walton Concertos - a piece that will be saved for my "By 60" goal.

I began the hunt once again for another Y composer and found Isang Yun who had written a piece for two violas called "Contemplation".  Glissandos are used heavily and the piece is distinctively Asian in style.  I was reminded of my time in the Asia-Pacific when I played through this piece for the first time.  The rhythms and dynamics are unusual from a Western perspective, but quite traditional for the Asian region.  

I'm looking forward to branching out into a new style of music, especially one with roots that I've experienced first hand.

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Music Librarianship

July 16, 2010 18:45

It has been a few weeks now since my friend and stand-partner moved in.  Our first major order of business was to somehow find space for both of our sheet music libraries.  The bookshelf that I had been using was already near capacity and couldn't house our combined music.  Luckily, the store that I bought it at years ago, in a different state none-the-less, still carried the style.  This time, I purchased the taller model which happens to have the perfect shelf height for sheet music.

While we were re-arranging the music, I noticed that some of my music from decades ago were showing signs of wear and tear.  The edges were starting to curl and in some cases tear and staples were beginning to rust and stain the music. 

This led me down the path to looking into sheet music restoration and archival methods.  In my search on how to preserve the music, I ran across the website to the Music Library Association.  There I found a treasure trove of information from conservation methods, repair techniques, to deacidification. 

One of the resources listed was Gaylord Brothers library supplies.  Here you can find everything you need to repair and conserve sheet music. Though my own collection is small and gets relatively light use in comparison to larger music library collections, I want to protect what I have so I can enjoy it for another 3 (or more) decades.  

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Twists and Turns

July 4, 2010 22:16

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).

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