romanz andaluza...

May 4, 2009 at 04:00 PM ·

i guess one way is to listen to this and that, borrow a little here and steal a little there, imitate this and copy that, to make it yours, without ever owning it.  i remember a vengerov masterclass where they were discussing a different type of spanish dance and apparently vengerov himself actually devoted some time to learning that type of dancing.

how to really understand how this piece should really sound like, in modern day america, where anything goes? :)    how to play music with 6/8 time sig?

thanks in advance any comment and advice, or even a little or a lot of british pompousness if you insist.

Replies (25)

May 4, 2009 at 10:28 PM ·


just a few idle thoughts.   I really like your kids playing by the way.   Its a litlte on the slow side for my taste.  Less of a Spanish lady being sexy round a campfire and more bewigged 18th century courtiers.  A Spansih gypsy dancer fro me has that sloooow ,  sinuous sexy movement interspersed with moments where something flashes and moves rapidly. Not necessarily a big movement but a whole subtle change of shape of the body,  turn in another direction or whatever. Like she is driving a guy to insanity then suddenly turning away and crooking her finger ta another to tell the first poor sucker that he isn`t man enough to hold her .

The vibrato speed is a little too uniform and use is somewhat inconsistent.  Try holding the violin like a cello and singing the line while changing the speed and width of vibrato to match the voice.    Also pracctice,  paradoxically,  without vibrato t get the passion in the bowing first.


And I tell you this every bloody time and you never listen because you bloody Americans are so wishy washy namby pampy and gutless ,  especially jsut after elections I might as well give up and go home.   The bow speed is too slow on the harmoic and the finger shpuld be released earlier.

Back to the sex.  Its okay to talk about sex.  You Americans would be so much better if you new some Spanish like I do.  There are moments I think where the music lets up. You can`t keep pushing sensuality higher an d higher without contrast.  A great example for my taste is at 1 35.   Its time to suddenly drop the whole inetnstiy thing as though your erotically sweaty gipsy has suddnely turne d it off and says  in a shy voice `So that`s me.  Can you deal with that and love me as a person too?`

Just going to chuck my breakfast against the wall.


May 4, 2009 at 10:48 PM ·

Oh, Buri--I just loved what you've just posted.


About the song---Buri is right, its quite too slow, and lack of sensuality to it, but again, she' s just a kid, what does she know? In this kind of piece, sensuality has its layers, and this one is much lack of it.. and so with passion, at least for me though, it didn't quite get there so to speak.

I watched all your posted videos, and you have a great musician with your daugther there.

congrat's! and Best wishes in order.

May 4, 2009 at 11:29 PM ·

 Buri, while the full expression of the piece may well be 

a whole subtle change of shape of the body,  turn in another direction or whatever. Like she is driving a guy to insanity then suddenly turning away and crooking her finger ta another to tell the first poor sucker that he isn`t man enough to hold her ...

I HOPE its entirely unreasonable to have an 8 year old achieve that.  We are back to the question of the 5 year old playing Mendelsshon quibble - should she wait until she can express it or can she just work NOW on playing technically very well (and to my ears at least, she's not far off it), knowing that at some point down the track it can be returned to and appreciated in another depth.  

I say congratulations to her - its memorised, its clean, its well intonated, she gets those double stops, she's already improved on timing from a first video'd attempt, the notes are strong.  She maintains a vibrato throughout.  She's 8 by the way. Been playing for how long ? 5 years or so?

As to how to approach it, Al?  I guess now you have to decide whether you want to precociously mature  your daughter so that she does know what this piece could be about and approach it thus, or you are satisfied to have her approach it for the next few years as an etude.  Its not like she's doing it any harm by playing it technically well, is it?

May 5, 2009 at 01:38 AM ·


actually we are not back to the 8 year old playing the Mendelssohn quibble at all.  If you really want to drag up what became at times a rather unpleasant thread then what characterized that was a young talent with a highly unstable technique and non of the precocious musicality associated with a real prodigy (of that age-yes)being touted as the next great soloist. Only today we got more remarks about her being an amazing virtuouso which is clearly nonsensical.

ALs daughter is a very talented kid who is being pushed or not pushed in an entirely approrpriate way with the right works at the right time and precsily the right expectaitons or lack of them. nobody in their right mind would expect to start talking to her about the piec e in terms of human sexuality.  One could work at it line by line in purely technical terms of bow speed and vibrato (which is not consistent by the way)  but too much of that would destroy the pleasure she gets playing the peice and gives to others.

 I was hoping my response would be greeted with a bit more of a sense of humor frankly speaking.



May 5, 2009 at 02:20 AM ·

haha, good comments...

in terms of exploring areas in music that may be challenging to kids, i don't think it is inappropriate to give it a try.   i mean, come on, we challenge them on a daily basis in other areas if you think about it.   complicated concepts can be broken down into smaller, digestable pieces.  but  a precise, accurate direction will help avoid confusion.

and that is the problem here.  we do not have a good sense of the direction with this piece.  do not know what that authentic flavor tastes like.

could be the tempo, could be the tech issues,  could be also lack of that spanish feel?  in other words, a kid growing up in that spanish culture/rhythm, without any formal musical abilities, should get it, right?

i am still not convinced how to go about it  :(

May 5, 2009 at 05:16 AM ·

Al, I think at this point, rehearsal with piano will really help seal the deal.

They rhythmic drive of this work is very apparent in the accompaniment (especially that saucy intro!). I have one of my eleven-year-old students working on this right now and despite my limited keyboard skills getting over there to help him get a sense of the work's movement as a whole helped more than talking about it ever could.

Otherwise, I enjoyed hearing her play...the tone is lovely and she's obviously put some real effort into doing musical things with the piece.

May 5, 2009 at 05:17 AM ·


I really don`t feel it as a techncial issue here. The problem is defintily partly the tempo since it begins to degenarte into a three rtaher than a two.

  I think if your daughter was my studnet I would be approaching the problem from varying angles.  Firstly I would make sure she could evolve a realistic and relevant cocnept (for her age) of what this kind of music is about  That could be done by a kind of mini project looking at Spanish music and dancing,  even trying it out- whatever her strong learner modalities are. You might also balance this out by actually reading a litlte about Sarasate himself and listening to recording of him playing.  It is light,  and elegant rather than sensuous. You might ask what story she is trying to tell within the piece.   Or you might try to be more concrete by working on proportion-  identifying the highest point and building up a mountain range of peaks of varying energy around that- somewhat similar to the Spanish Alps I suppose?;)

The other thing that would speed things up is playing it with a good pianist as quickly as possible.  getting an underlying rythmic/harmonic impulse will help this a lot.  At the moment it is sort of like Brahms in drag.  Or put it another way `Romanze and loofa.`

Bloody good show though old bean.



May 5, 2009 at 10:06 AM ·

Jeez Louise, Buri.  Unravel the knots in those knickers - I'm not wanting to offend you.

Its just that sometimes it seems to me that answers on this site have hard to reconcile contradictions.  The answers all contain a truth, but for someone seeking 'the path' it can be hard to discern which sign post to travel toward.

And I liked your analysis the romanze, by the way.  I'm not saying it was one of your more humourous writings ...

May 5, 2009 at 10:26 AM ·


not offended. Knicker knots are a speciality, especially after a trip on the bike. Just don@t want to get into the issue of young talent playing xy andz  .   Not at all relevant here.  Precisely the kind of stuff someone like Al`s kid is quite rightly playing and doing a great job.   Her dad just needs to improve his pianistic skills.   Interesitng that Auer strongly recommended stduents having a solid grasp of a substantial number of the Spanish Dances before tackling major works.  



May 5, 2009 at 10:52 AM ·

 Okey Dokey, Buri.

I have just read your blog and feel somewhat kindred on a couple of counts - having cycled around and across and through Britain (a looonnnng time ago) , AND having had pneumonia (not concurrent with the cycling).  My pneuomonia was probably the best serious infection I have ever had - unlike most people, I didn't have any urge to cough, nor did I have any other symptoms of a respiratory disease.  

I am so impressed by Al's daughter.  I am not sure that HE needs to improve his pianism.  He needs to improve his bartering, and cajoling to get the older sister to play.  She accompanied on Meditation really well.

May 5, 2009 at 11:35 AM ·

sharelle, i share that frustration.  but at the same time, i can imagine and accept that as much as i would like to get a straight forward answer about a meandering path,   it may not exist at this level of the learning curve.   there are just so many issues and hopefully everyday we get to work on some of the more urgent ones.  oddly, i find exchanges in extremely helpful because it can be fun to be running around naked here :)    from buri's blog, i get this weird picture that this violin thingy is an uphill ride and the only option is to keep peddling.

i think piano accompaniment is indeed a good idea, as suggested.  sharelle's got a good memory:)  unfortunately, the older one is not as responsive to threats and bribes,  but let me see what i can do with some other type of empty promises:)    after all, this piece has the potential to be a fun piece with all the wild streaks in it.

to be honest honest, even though i can play couple tunes on the violin, i wish i can play the piano.  to understand all those chords and use them at one's disposal is just so cool!  

May 5, 2009 at 01:14 PM ·

How about a listening binge?  There is a ton of great stuff to listen to, including Carmen, (French!) Lalo's Symphony Espagnole (French again!), Segovia playing just about anything, Three Cornerned Hat, you get the idea...

May 6, 2009 at 12:17 AM ·


I just came home last night from a week of giving master classes in Cordoba, Spain. It was the whole week of the "Noce de Mayo" festival. Every night, the powerful rhythm of flamenco, Gitanas singing from the bottom of their soul and EVERYWHERE---flamenco dancers. Every corner, people dressed in flamenco-wear  or simply in street clothes---it was unstoppable flamenco.  Chanting, singing intense clapping. Evne in the morning! People with wineskins drinking in long streams of wine in the square and being unable to resist the calling of the rhythm. LITTLE GIRLS  and grown women (young and older)in bright flamenco dresses showing such intensity of rhythm! (I will post a picture in an upcoming blog).

The best advice I could possibly give is to take your daughter to Cordoba next year in the first week of May. She will "get it" --and keep it forever! If I am so fortunate as to be invited back to Cordoba next year, she can study with me in the course there> (Of course, with her teacher's permission). It would be fun to meet both of you.

Meanwhile--looks like the studies are going well! :-)


May 5, 2009 at 09:24 PM ·

Shaham played this piece in a live PBS concert a few months ago. He also has a version on Youtube. Not to suggest your daughter should copy, but to listen and watch other versions and approaches might aid her development.

May 6, 2009 at 12:54 AM ·

Hi, I cannot say anything negative since at this age, I was steel hiding under blankets, swinging on swings, making totoo wars with my sister, making the "horse" who pulled my little brother in a little toy trailer, lock him in a closet when he bited me of pulled my hair... and the most stupid one, was scared of Mr with glasses...  And, violin was suppose to be a torture thing from what my parents heard from people who knew violin kids... 

She is amazing and for 8 it is even more impressing!  Yes, contrarely to those who seem to lack technique and play hard stuff at 5-8, she seems in very good control!!!   It's easy to see this control even if the volume would be turned off. (I don't know it just shows and not just for teachers IMHO!)  She is very coordinated!  For vibratos, maturity and interpretation, here is the debate about ages issues and interpretation.   But however we all must remind that 90% of all violin students will maybe never develop a sound as beautiful as big masters even if our ear instinctivly compare every sound we hear with master's interpretations... This is a so small % and who heard all of them at eight?   She is so good, you never know with kids like her and she is a very high level/quality player compared to so many of this group age!  (much ahead of those who did totoo fights... :) There is hope for such a kid and especially when the technique is there and not faked or whatever. 

By the way, how many daughters do you have?  Is this one the same as the one who did the amazing Mozart and Bach fugue or was this the older one?

Congratulations to her!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


May 6, 2009 at 05:32 AM ·

anne Marie, what is a totoo fight?

While I'm at it, can I please hijack this thread and have someone please explain what is a:

high school junior,



sophomore (in my childhood I first heard this term about the same time I saw american teenagers on TV wearing those blazers with a letter on them, AND the same time I first heard the term semaphore. Well,there was this confused confluence of terms.  I have never recovered.

Also, is the same terminology then used in college, and is a college the same as Americans call 'school' , and is that what people go to for furtther education after high school, about age 18?

What is a home coming queen? Where has she been that she is now coming home?

You see, its so simple here in Australia. You start school at 5 is in Kindergarten or Prep, then you go to Year 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12 and then you do a final exam which has various names in different states but we all know what it means.  And then you might go to college or uni.  You don't then go 'to school' because you have just left school.

A SENIOR is someone aged over 55 who qualifies for a seniors card for discounted travel and entry fees and special rates on insurance.


May 6, 2009 at 06:11 AM ·


well I look bad in a tutu. Not worth fighting over.  Desmond Tutu wa s largely opposed to fighting so thta just leaves the time signature I guess.  Unless you like:

11was a race horse,


111a race.




May 6, 2009 at 01:29 PM ·

haha, love mr russell's idea,,,just be there! :)

edwin, last night while she was doing homework, i played that youtube shaham clip and i asked her,,,how do you like it?  she said, without looking up,  hmm, well, when i play, people can hear that it is from a kid because of the immaturity, you can tell this guy is good and mature, but i don't like all of it. 

why not? 

the way he phrases some of it.  ( i luv it when kids have not learned to not to speak their minds:)

may be that is spanish music!  may be that is what we are lacking!

well, dunno, i know if i play like that, the teacher will be upset.               :)

anne-marie,,,thanks for those undeserved compliments. there are many great and better young players out there and lets just say that not all parents are crazy enough like some of us to put  clips on youtube:).  some parents actually have good social etiquettes and taste, ouch.    besides, every kid has a unique story, a unique path where he or she is coming from and going to.  all kids meet up at birth and then diverge.

interesting you brought up the word or concept of "control".  if there is one issue i have with her playing this piece at this level at this stage, it is actually about control.  because of borderline tech and understanding,  the little car she drives does not feel to me to have enough traction.  there is a lot of lacking in terms of being able to cut  sharp corners when needed, stop and go with ease and with the comfortable sense of an internal tempo.    could be age related, could be lack of enough practice runs, could be the original issue that i brought up, that she simply has no idea how it should sound like, etc.    anyway, one advantage of being relatively young is that it is a great time to make as many mistakes as possible.  like in golf, learn how to handle losses first. 

May 6, 2009 at 03:23 PM ·

Al, it is deserved!

Sharelle, by totoo fights, I mean throwing totoos and pillows to each other + making imaginairy stories with them!

Buri, I thought you always played in Tutu since you studied at London (Checked tutus)!!! Please tell me that they didn't convinced you to play in this! lol


May 6, 2009 at 04:13 PM ·

Hi Sharelle, in the U.S., High school is grades 9-12. The first year of high school (9th grade) you are a Freshman, second year (10th grade) you are a Sophomore, third year (11th grade) you are a Junior and the fourth year (12th grade) you are a Senior.

In college, a Bachelor's degree typically takes 4 years to earn if you're going full-time, so you'll be a Freshman the first year, Sophomore the second year, etc (just as in High School). But if it takes more than 4 years to complete the degree you look at how many credit hours you've completed in order to figure out what "title" you should go by.

Oh, and we also have Seniors as in "Senior Citizens" - those over the age of 65. That's when I'll get to enjoy discounts at restaurants on my limited income.

Anne-Marie, I'm still confused... what exactly is a "totoo"? Is it a doll or some other kind of toy? Or an article of clothing?

May 6, 2009 at 04:15 PM ·

By the way, Al, your daughter is amazing. Someday perhaps I can sound as good as she does!

May 6, 2009 at 10:08 PM ·

Hi, is a totoo a Canadian word?  It's stuffed animals like teady bears.  lol 

Have a nice day,


May 7, 2009 at 03:14 AM ·

Ahh, Buri, you almost had it as I learned it , except that 1 1 1 1 race 1 day and 22 11 2.

Thank you all for my education.  

Al, Spain in the summer with a bunch of flamenco dancers in the streets and lessons with Corwin.  What more could you ask for?  What the heck, lets all go!

Great golf videos, by the way, though I really don't know what I'm looking for except that she connects with the ball and that the ball doesn't land in sand or water. That seems good.

May 7, 2009 at 10:57 AM ·


Al, check out Sara de Luis dancing to Romanza Andaluza on youtube.  Sorry I couldn`t see a link for that one. 

It was inetersting. I thought if I googled this there would be dozens of legendary performances but its actually amazingly sparse.   The guy who I thought would play it superbly (Huberman) actually is being rather low key in this 1929 Columbia version. It seems a little slow and sweet ,  rathe rlacking in Spanish zing although normally he is the business,  as it were.



May 7, 2009 at 03:03 PM ·

Ricci-Persinger is good enough for me.

This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

JR Judd Violins
JR Judd Violins

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases Shopping Guide Shopping Guide

Metzler Violin Shop

Southwest Strings

Bobelock Cases

Johnson String Instrument/Carriage House Violins

Jargar Strings

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop


Los Angeles Violin Shop


String Masters

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews. Interviews Volume 1 Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn Interviews Volume 2 Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine