The voice as a violin - and anger in music

Edited: November 18, 2021, 2:03 PM · I've written in the past about...
1. Emotionality in music, especially anger, and
2. Writing for the voice as a "violin."

So how about this example?
By Vivaldi and performed by an incredible singer.
Take a listen....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5kFPc-lIrkI

Replies (8)

Edited: November 18, 2021, 4:45 PM · Nice example, although maybe if I understood the words it would better convey anger. I always thought, though, that classical music as a whole was not the most effective genre for conveying anger. I think modern genres do it better. On the other hand, very little pop music conveys serenity and melancholy the way classical does... sign of the times?


I think the pitch of the violin is too high to sound angry. Maybe an angry mosquito. I mean, there's a reason they play heavy metal on guitar and not mandolin—a guitar has a more manly pitch range.

Edited: November 26, 2021, 9:11 AM · Wow! She does sound, and look, very annoyed.
As in Mozart's Queen of the Night, the anger is rendered by the text, and the singer's articulation and manner. I think the music as such could be suggesting, for example, a terrible storm at sea.

Unlike the violins, I'm occasionally unsure of what notes she is singing, but who cares! I've not heard such singing elswhere (or from elsewhom?).

November 18, 2021, 10:58 PM · The aria is from Juditha triumphans: Cecilia Bartoli is Vagaus, Holofernes's servant and confidant (a eunuch), who has just found Holofernes dead in his tent, killed by Judith. Enraged, he envokes the furies to avenge Holofernes.

Bartoli is always totally invested in the music and the story, and this is an impressive example of that. She certainly brings that aria to life.

November 19, 2021, 2:16 AM · I like your explanation, Katarina!
Edited: November 19, 2021, 2:38 AM · This isn't anger but "anger" - gosh, doesn't she look "angry"! When a diva gets really angry she may talk loud and fast, but she won't sing.

Same with grief and "grief" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_50zj7J50U. Sometimes I wonder if everyone understands the difference, particularly if they've spent most of their lives watching movies and TV drama.

November 19, 2021, 12:47 PM · Great comments, thank you all.
What's interesting is that this aria, written of course by Vivaldi, does indeed write for the voice, but no one would be surprised to hear the same piece played by the violin. Thank you Vivaldi.

To me it's also interesting that we violin players (when playing or observing others play) notice the slightest of body movements or facial expressions. We have no trouble assigning a wide variety of emotional expressions to these very often subtle visuals. But we seem to hesitate when it comes to recognizing anger - even such an obviously "angry" piece of music as that Vivaldi aria, and with such an obviously "angry" performance by the great Bartoli.

November 20, 2021, 12:30 PM · Wow. I've heard of method acting. Ms Bartoli is a method singer!

I've never cared for opera. I appreciate it but I don't like it. Except for voices of Cecilia Bartoli and Lucia Popp. The sounds they create are just unearthly beautiful to my ear. They heal my heart.

Edited: November 20, 2021, 1:12 PM · None of the major composers have had as long a period of neglect as Vivaldi. Rediscovery of his work started in 1920(?), and the complete works edition was not started until after WW2. His Operas were republished last. Out of 40 Opera titles only 10 survive intact, and only a few have been revived by contemporary Opera houses. They have all the production problems of Baroque Opera Seria before the reforms and improvements of Gluck and Mozart; mostly dry Recitative and DaCapo solo Arias, not enough ensemble arias, too many parts for Castrato or Counter-tenor. Vivaldi's' reputation might have been different if the editors started with his vocal work. I have always thought that many of the slow movements of the concertos have the quality, style of bel canto aria.


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