Tuesday, February 19, 2013

New Tricks

This morning’s breakfast consists of a Carnival Turnover(ture) and some chai- Tchai-kovsky, to be exact. If we were playing any other Tchaikovsky symphony, these notes would not seem so elusive, this being my maiden voyage with the 3rd. And while, yes, I have learned the notes, there is still a ways to go until I can say comfortably that I have learned the music. Finding where all these notes fit in is only possible at the rehearsal, since I may be able to figure some things out from a YouTube video, but lo and behold, our orchestra has different reflexes than the one the screen. Different articulations, different tempi, different drag coefficient, different acoustical phenomena. These rehearsals then become highly intensive fact-finding missions.

I hate to gripe, but there is one annoying aspect to how certain cello parts are printed, specifically the Dvorak Carnival Overture. It seems to be confined to the music of Dvorak and Beethoven, although older editions of other composers may be printed this way. Here it is. Out of the blue, a passage will be printed in treble clef. But it’s printed in a range that even a violinist would find high!! We are expected to read it an octave lower. Okay, so I get that. But why then, is the next similar passage printed in tenor clef, (which is less unusual and looks something like the number 13)? The notes in tenor clef are in the same range as the one in treble clef! Perhaps these are passages which the publisher felt always sounded like crap and has given practice alerts? I know that a lot of instruments transpose, either by necessity (like the basses) or by accident (like when the singer can’t hit that high G because of allergies), but the lack of logic here stymies me.

The answer to these and other pressing questions shall be revealed in time for Thursday and Friday’s Masterworks concerts, 7:30 at the Tennessee Theatre. Until then, be aware that this is the Year of the Viola. The symbol for tenor clef and for alto clef (which is what violas generally read) are the same, it is their placement on the staff that differs. So while I may argue that this is tenor clef, the viola community would say that alto clef is viola-specific and hence they have commandeered it to suit their own needs and toot their own horns.

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