HELP WITH SIBELIUS 2ND MOVEMENT >How to count to four, the hard way< *not clickbait*
Sorry about the title - I couldn't resist.
Anyways, I'm learning the 2nd Movement of Sibelius's Violin Concerto (such beauty) and all was going well, the first 32 measures were fine, until... I hit measure 33.
(The rhythm is normal quarter notes and eighth notes over quarter note triplets.)
I can do the double-stops, I can play them (not in rhythm, however), but I don't understand the rhythm. I mean, I understand the rhythm on an intellectual level, I know where the notes are supposed to be played and at what time in relationship to each other, but when I grab my instrument, I'm having difficulty keeping the triplets even without messing up the top line. I think the issue is that I'm not keeping the two voices separate. Any suggestions on how to practice and learn this passage? Should I play the voices separately, and then together, or should I use two metronomes (I have plenty, don't worry) and have one set to triplets and one set to eighth notes, or what?
Thank you Nina for asking this question :) The truth is, most people (including a large number of soloists) do not play this section accurately, and it really irritates me. A lot.
James, could you try to embed the link? It's not working on my computer.
hm when I try to embed the picture, it doesn't seem to show up here...
The link worked for me. Note that the hyphen at the end of the first line is part of the link.
I'll probably get some blowback for my answer, but it's the simple, effective one. And it doesn't involve counting and driving yourself nuts. I don't think the cross rhythms here have to be metronomic. To me, it's more about the harmony: dissonances and resolutions.
I'd love to follow your advice, Scott, but I think I'd get bashed during my lesson for that. Oh well.
However, I think I'll follow James's advice. My teacher is usually quite firm rhythmically.
3 against 4 - aim for the next down-beat and play 3 or 4 notes.
I don't know that I could do these weird counts in my head while simultaneously holding onto the melody and harmony. I record myself playing both lines individually then play the other line with the recording until I'd internalized how it fits together, both rhythmically and musically.
Yeah it's tough but nobody said the Sibelius VC was Suzuki Book 4 material. I want to point out that my method does not differ from James's. His starting point would be the same as mine. I only suggested a way of internalizing once you have visualized it. If you don't have a "visual learner's" bone in your body, this method may not work for you.
What I'm starting to do is playing the passage on the piano. (Top line, right hand, bottom line, left hand.) I also record it and listen back because it's hard to evaluate your playing while you're playing.
Scott: yes at the end of the day when we perform, we don't want to be furiously calculating. What I suggest is simply the first step. Once mastered, then of course we just feel then music. There is still a beauty to the complexity of this rhythm and the evenness of the bottom triplet, so I think it's worth it to spend a bit of time on it.
I had a feeling it would be Hahn.
James, maybe that list of performers suggests it's not as important as you think it is.
Well yes it's not really that important in the grand scheme of things. This rhythm literally never occurs in any other violin piece, so understandably 95% of people are going to be screwing it up because they've never had to do it before/will never have to do it again. But I mean why allow those couple of bars to be wrong? For example no one ever plays the rhythm of the opening few bars of the movement wrong, and if they did, there would be uproar. To me this feels like double standards. Sibelius chose such an amazing texture with this 3 against 4. The intensity and struggle is simply not captured if the rhythm is not right, and it's a shame no one cares/people are saying it doesn't really matter. Of course some freedom is allowed, but the above mentioned soloists aren't even close to correct! I am a composer too, and I would appreciate if the performers actually tried to play my notes and rhythms, rather than simply do what is convenient and easy... which is why I appreciate that Nina wants to play this the right way.
Interesting to see with Mutter how the "shoulder napkin" goes on and off.