Just back from concert day with CCSO (City of Cambridge Symphony Orchestra) playing the wonderful Mahler Symphony No. 5 and Bartok piano concerto No. 3. First time playing with this orchestra since moved to Cambridge so its nice to get back into the swing of something very week.
Mahler is quite a big play, has some tricky string moments but the opening trumpet is just amazing, and has many moments which melt the heart strings.
The fourth movement is by far my favourite movement which I have played before with Stirling Orchestra and is one of Mahler’s most famous compositions and I’d say most frequently performed of his works. As far as my Mahler knowledge goes i think it is said to represent Mahler’s love song to his wife Alma – I could be wrong I apologise to any Mahler scholars! Really want to do some more research on him as his works are just phenomenal!
Thought I would post some paintings which a local artist came has done over the 5 weeks of rehearsals and had a wee doodle while we played. Pretty weird seeing yourself in a painting (green top haha)
I will also be taking part in the summer course where the Dance theme for all orchestras this year extends into the next few months where with NYOS Symphony Orchestra (The National Youth Orchestra of Scotland) we will be performing Stravinsky’s The Firebird – the complete ballet. So excited!!!! and also the Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Major with Pavel Kolesnikov and Conductor Ilan Volkov.
3 August 2016 / 19:00 at City Halls, Glasgow
Tickets: Adult £16 | Concession £10 | Under 25 £2.50
On route to Spring Course for NYOS again. Looking forward to dwelving into some amazing music, which I hope I have prepared enough for!
Love travelling home. Seeing the mountains and knowing I’m on my way.
We are playing Ravel’s Daphnis & Chloe Suite No. 2, Charles Koechlin: Poème for horn and orchestra, Op. 70 biswith Principal Horn of SCO, Alex Franc-Gemmill and the amazing Prokofiev’s ballet, Romeo & Juliet to commemorate 400 years since the death of Shakespeare. I absolutely love both the story and Prokofiev’s score that virtually every ballet company in the world will do, so its phenomenal to do this, despite it being excerpts not the full shabang.
2016 also marks a year of intriguing associations and connections between NYOS Symphony Orchestra and the BBC, where our conductor Alpesh Chauhan, appeared in the BBC film Ten Pieces Secondary conducting the BBC Philharmonic.
Really looking forward to working with him, at 25 he is an inspiration yet makes me feel bad with being only 2 years younger and not in the same league but looking forward to it. So young and conducts the CBSO already – amazing.
8 April 2016 / 19:30 at Perth Concert Hall
Tickets: Adult £16 | Concession £10 | Under 25 £2.50
Rehearsal at Milton Court going well for the Lenton and Passiontide Programme.
Come along to Milton Court on Thursday 24 March 2016 7.30pm!
Such a wonderful programme of music, and a lot of music prep was needed for this. Lots of bowings I had to put in the parts but was well worth it I think.
JS Bach Cantata No.127 “Herr Jesu Christ, wahr’ Mensch und Gott”
JS Bach Cantata No.39 “Brich dem Hungrigen dein Brot”
JS Bach attrib. Motet, “Ich lasse dich nicht”
JS Bach Cantata No.182 “Himmelskönig, sei willkommen”
JS Bach wrote an astounding number of choral works in his lifetime, and it is these sacred cantatas for choir and orchestra that hold the key to his creative genius. These are some of his finest cantatas and there are just gorgeous.
Even his motet reminds me of much earlier than Bach, could perhaps be his father?? Very very moving though.
Exciting concert duty no. 1 of 2 tonight at Kings Chapel at Kings College in Cambridge. My first experience of Choral Music to this extent around easter with the St John Passion by Bach.
Thought I would blog a little about what I have learnt from this piece.
In a musical context the ‘Passions’ by Bach suggest the commemoration of the most emotive Christian story, the journey of Jesus to the cross. The word has also come to be all but synonymous in music with Bach’s two greatest exemplars: the St. John and St. Matthew Passions.
Both the passions of John and Matthew were in fact the first two to gain a place in the liturgical canon, though this was a good twelve centuries before Bach’s settings materialised: Pope Leo the Great established that these two accounts of the events leading to the crucifixion should be presented during Holy Week as early as the 5th century AD.
Performances of the passions from this time onwards appear to have developed the same way as religious music generally: initially the texts would have been chanted by a single priest evidenced in the 12th century musical notation was being used to determine pitches.
Also apparent in the early sources are of the ideas of drama which in these two works are distinquished by the Evangelist/narrator, Christ, and the crowd (or ‘turba’).
By Bach’s time, passion setting had morphed into a dramatic form with much in common with the oratorio. From my research at university, Bach writes a dynamic and complex part for chorus (or double chorus) and characters with strongly delineated musical styles.
Although the Evangelist’s part in Bach’s settings is composed as ‘secco’ recitative (a speech-like narrative style, accompanied only by the continuo section), moments of immense drama still remain, and the Evangelist’s part in the St. John Passion contains some of the most affecting recitative sections ever written, I think.
The St. John Passion
A smaller piece than the 1727 St. Matthew, Bach’s St. John Passion was first performed in 1724. The St. John Passion tells John’s account of the crucifixion through Biblical passages and poetry from a variety of sources (the compiler of the text is unknown). As in the St. Matthew Passion, the story is told by an Evangelist and solo singers, and arias and chorales fit between the dramatic action of the work. I do find compared to listening to the St Matthew Passion. it feels less finished as the end seems a bit interupted and that it needs to go on, somehow but it doesn’t detract from the overall quality.
In fact, the St. John Passion contains several bold imaginative strokes to which Bach would not return in the St. Matthew. The opening chorus is just beautiful and then becomes more dissonant as an exordium addressed to Jesus and sets the tone for the whole work.
Part 2 likewise begins with a particularly memorable passages and the chorus eventually sounds like it is like a crowd calling for the execution of Jesus with rising chromatic scales and a whirlwind of strings. Even the gentle moments such as the soprano aria ‘Ich folge dir gleichfalls’ has this dark quality to it, with being chromatic.
So i have now started a job with the Academy of Ancient music in a similar administrative as Concert and Administrative Assistant where I act as the librarian and many administrative tasks from venues, to preparing for tours and projects and general office administration tasks.
I had such a blast at the RSNO, such an amazing bunch of people and orchestra to work with. Really hope I get the opportunity to come back at some point in the future. Was such an experience which I will treasure and has helped me to get where I am today.
The last activity today was a “fake market” to spend the last of our Yen, and then went to the Temple of Heaven (where we supposed to go earlier in the week but didn’t due to the train delays from Shanghai to Beijing). It was totally worth the wait though – managed to get a bargain of a bag to bring home for my mum. And the temple of heaven was gorgeous.
We went back to the hotel for the last time, for dinner, then were in the middle of boarding the buses when the rain started.
The rain quickly turned from drizzle to downpour, and then to hail the size of golf balls. The bus started leaking and the road flooded. Bus 2 got stuck in amongst floating cars and, I’m not gonna lie, I did panic and got a bit flustered and upset.
The life-saving bus drivers managed to get us to safety and the other bus out of the floods eventually – despite all their luggage being super wet.
It turns out there’s not been a storm like that here since the 1960s in Beijing and we were lucky to be able to get to the airport at all! But all safely on board on the plane after an unforgettable week in China which I will never forget!
Our last concert – was by far our best concert and I found the hall the best acoustic I have played in, but sadly also our last concert in China.
The Grand Theatre where we played is a modern glass building in downtown Tianjin, by far our nicest venue which was like a complex with the big concert hall and opera theatre and music rooms and rehearsal rooms. We arrived, set up, explored, rehearsed, explored some more, found a McDonalds – much much needed.
The Tianjin Youth Orchestra came to watch us in matching green t-shirts. We had a sold-out audience here again. Everyone rose to the occasion and put their heart and soul into the music. It was a very emotional concert and will always remember it.
I honestly cannot believe it’s the last night here in China.
We’re heading back to Beijing for pizza and late-night celebrations, and preparing for thr last of sightseeing before flying home in the evening.
This morning we visited the Forbidden City – the residence of the Chinese emperor in imperial China, before 1912.
According to our guide, Beijing in effect consisted of four cities: the imperial city, where all of the officials and people of importance lived; the inner city; the outer city; and the forbidden city, from which most people were forbidden (ingenious name).
This colossal complex, built in the 15th Century, housed only the family of the emperor, their servants and tutors, and the emperor himself. It was amazing to be able to see this ornate square. Inside these buildings they include over 300 enormous earns originally kept filled with water, apparently in readiness for any fire in one of the extremely flammable traditional Chinese wooden buildings; the houses in which the emperor’s concubines lived (one emperor had over 3000 of them); and the beautiful garden containing 400-year-old cyprus trees and huge ornamental rocks.
Tonight’s concert in Beijing concert hall was a huge success, featuring the standard three encores, applause and standing ovation that one comes to expect of a typical NYOS concert in China. During the rehearsal we also did a side by side with a local childrens orchestra where the children were probably 10-14 years old – and very very good. Was so lovely for our principals and sections to see these kids at work and for them to experience working with us. I think we all learned a lot from that.
However, we have now been introduced to the new and exciting phenomenon that is… the in-concert raffle. The whole thing was in Chinese but had several large QR codes projected onto the screen behind us on stage, which the audience could scan to enter a raffle on their smartphones before the concert started. At the end of the concert (after two encores), the enormous projector screen rolled back down which blocked the percussion so all I seen was this screen with a large button that clicked and was a little confused at what on earth was going on after these encores.
The conductor Rory MacDonald was invited to say ‘start’, at which point the button was clicked and more pictures ie. these entries in the raffle flashed quickly by until the conductor said ‘stop’. Then the screen froze to display the winner, who came onstage to receive their prize. This happened twice more. We’re yet not sure if the bemused ayouth orchestra is an integral part of this phenomenon or not but it was so funny and a new thing to experience. Could this be a new thing back home??
Woke up early, more or less refreshed and buzzing to go to the first outing of the day..the Great Wall of China.
As we drove towards the outskirts of the city, our tour guide explained that the bright, warm weather was because we were “hao” people – good people, which was encouraging.
We started our climb near the bottom of one of the valleys, and climbed up the stairs of the wall to the top watchtower, over 600 meters above where we started.
We arrived, sweating and out of breath, but completely in awe of the breathtaking view and the history which surrounds the wall.
In Beijing tradition, told by our guide, you are not a true hero until you have climbed the wall, and you also have not lived until you have seen it, and I certainly feel very alive and heroic after that race to the top and fainting with exhaustion when I reached the bottom.
I don’t half end it in style!
After a quick buffet lunch at the wall, which I could barely eat yet was forced with overheating – we drove back down to this China Friendship Association for a reception, and everyone managed to look very respectable despite most, me included having to do my makeup on the moving bus!
We was then treated to some performances of some NYOS members on the tour including a string quartet, flute duo and woodwind quintet to important Chinese reps and such.
The venue was gorgeous must say – very glam and nicely air conditioned!
It’s amazing to think Shanghai has 25million people and the thousands of high rise buildings are only a few years old.
We drove through old Beijing today which was only a few decades old with small shacks along a road while looking at the modern city it’s very difficult to imagine the whole place like this. As you can maybe tell from above.
The concert in Shanghai yesterday, or whatever day it was – all a blur! Was really interesting however, where after the first half the orchestra collectively was disappointed by the reaction from the Chinese audience but as we found out, they saved the rapturous applause and cheering right to the end. I was so moved when they gave a standing ovation after our three encores! It just shows you how different our cultures are and it was so exciting and moving to see the recations we got. And also to have a full concert hall filled to the brim with children and adults cheering for more in Chinese by the end. Was such an awesome way to kick off the tour, can’t wait to see how our other two concerts go in Beijing and Tianjin.
Meanwhile, we’re going to the Great Wall tomorrow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Let’s just say the sleeper train was certainly an experience….the cramped sleeping quarters proved for good bonding time, especially as twelve hour journey turned into over sixteen hours…and after those day trips to the Yu Gardens the previous day.
Despite this, feeling excited for Beijing.
Our first stop was lunch, which was amazing…despite already getting fed up of the sticky rice. Then we went to the main square of Beijing and saw the national museum of China, a government building and the old great gate to the city. We were also a great hit with chinese tourists who were queueing up to take selfies with us…great fun. 🙂
Then we checked into our hotel here and all took a much needed shower, before heading off for a Peking duck dinner, a traditional dish from Beijing consisting of specially cooked duck in a pancake.
Out has come the suncream and ready to explore. Venturing round the blocks (which feels like takes an hour to just get round a very small area! Managed to get some super cheap Chinese delacies for 2 pence. Don’t think you can buy anything for 2 pence in Scotland!
We started off a day of sightseeing by visiting a Buddhist temple with 400 year old jade statues, followed by a trip to a silk factory where we were all tempted by the amazing silk duvets and convertible pillow-bl
ankets in beautiful colours.
Had such an amazing experience playing at the Shanghai Grand Theatre too. Was phenomanal!
We then went to the Yu gardens were beautiful, if very hot and remember distinctly no amount of water was going to cool me down!
The ‘fake markets’ were also fun where we could buy copies of designer merch for much less. Of course we had to haggle, again it seems that we are too polite.
We’re now off to the sleeper train, I hope we get more sleep than on the plane!
So as part of this year’s summer tour with NYOS (National Youth Orchestra of Scotland) we have the amazing opportunity to go to China to play in some of the most amazing concert halls and experience a completely different culture and musical adventure.
Pretty tired, with not sleeping at all on flight to Dubai and from Dubai to Shanghaim so feeling a bit sicky but we’re finally here – and loving this humidity compared to the actual decent Scottish summer weather we were getting.
Finally got off the plane and now on our way to get some long needed dinner before heading to the hotel on coach 1, best bus of course! We are given warm bottles of water, better get used to it with the heat and some history of the city on the way. Sadly I had fallen asleep for most of this journey so can’t fill in on that side of things but from what I can remember it is like a new world. The traffic was horrendous, skyscrappers and new cities being built as we drove past which would be filled with millions of people like in the main city. Before reaching to the hotel, we get taken to a gorgeous restaurant with a one-of-those-spinny-glass-things and then to the even more gorgeous hotel where we’re staying. We think we’ve now been awake for 36 hours if not more though that is still subject to debate!
Returned from orchestral tour and now it is time to really start crafting my dissertation – over the past few weeks, I have been working on the Introduction, Lit Review which discusses Performance Practice Sections; including in reference to Bach and characteristics and the start of the Methodology section. I will go back over these sections for clarity and conscious that I’m not repeating and that things are clear – thinking about my story, in turn the connections between chapters and so on so forth.
I have been working on today the Methodology section of the dissertation and have begun collating all the answers from each participant onto a spreadsheet for ease to be able to see differences and having a think about the analysis of the results (working progress at the moment)
My supervisor hadn’t talked much about how to analyse my data so feeling very confused and a bit worried about how to condense all this information into a coherent section. So I have looked at different ways to show my results and for the presentation included here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYoA5fGZQQE to give me some help at what direction to go on.
I think I could do comparison with age groups in reference to answers and will do percentages of people – A-B comparisons indefinitely and compare the Likert style answers given by participants for the two recordings.
Ultimately for my result section I hope to show well a statement of the results and What are the results that support my point of view; so preference – is there is a place for one style as opposed to other – but I will summate my data – maybe do a section of just comments from certain questions – present as percentages of people or age groups or in A-B comparisons
I will need to put the results into context with my idea – that this style of music is or isn’t as popular ie. mainstream as it used to be – why is that the case
Been a little while since I had last blogged but I will reflect a little on progress so far since the recordings have been sent.
I have sent over 150 invitations to various occupations including musicians; I have recieved postive feedback and responses however participant numbers are out of my hands till I return from NYOS tour on the 8th of April.
With regards to progress, questionnaires have been sent along with recordings and I have recieved about 15 consent forms back so far with the study in question – much less than proposed but something I can talk about in my dissertation. I feel that if had this opportunity further on I would be able to get more participants and perhaps organise focus groups as opposed to emailing and sending out to people physically, but regardless numbers would still be a question mark so I will just have to see when I get back.
In terms of progression, trying to decide the components of my dissertation and the other submissions due for the course.
I have been editing my dissertation as I go with trying to get the main bulk done before I leave. I feel like the project could have been a lot smoother running and if I had extra time to prepare the baroque performance would be more effective i with comparison of the other recording as it clearly more expressive in terms of standard of technique (obviously learning an instrument that is different in minimal time which would normally take years of practice)
I think I will still be able to conclude some results with the participants I will recieve as it is still a very mixed sample of people.
In terms of presentation I will produce a statement of the project which will address how I’m looking at preference of the two styles of interpretation, reviewing what I have done which will include the problems like the physicality and the music and the venues and time constraint and how I’ve addressed them ie. by picking a piece thats more achievable and contrasts styles, practice in a way thats not going to cause injury and analysed music to be able to learn two styles quicker.
I’ll present the final piece – I’m thinking that due to time – I would present the most popular recording which is Recording 1 in the presentation (2min long) so that will show what I’ve been working on as an example which means I can then be reflective about my project as a whole – ie. the results and what I would do differently and learnt through the process.
The final expo will run similarly but I will make this more visual and physical showing of the two styles and the project as a whole.
So I have kind of gone into detail of some of the sessions so I thought today I would just do a summary of the sessions and some of my thoughts on the experience of the sessions now that I have sent out two final recordings to participants for my research.
The First Recording Session working with Gavin was at the Caird Hall In Dundee, which I organised. The session was in the Marryat Hall within the Caird Hall Itself due to availability of the Caird Hall – set up for a wrestling match of all things.
So the Hall itself is an early 20th century building where this hall is frequently used for conferences, small events, chamber ensembles, recording and such like.
With this session, having the Henry Wood Hall being canceled, was like the first proper experience of recording – and what it was going to be like for the upcoming session. For me I felt this session was more useful to highlight what I need to work on for the other two performances/sessions.
So for the recording here and the other two sessions, we have used the same format – using an SE X1 Cardioid condenser microphone with a zoom H1 stereo recorder being utilised as a room microphone. We captured the session with Gavin’sC canon DSLR camera for evidence and promotional purposes which I needed. So as you are well aware of I was recording the Modern and Baroque style which I have been talking about throughout the process.
We were greeted by workmen/staff working on facilties in the building and so the facilities manager explained how work was scheduled and they were unaware of the booking, not being passed onto the facilities team. So this was a little frustrating due to how it could impact the recordings – Despite the problem – got a few good takes recorded before any serious bleed from the maintenance works going on pretty much everyone. For me it really made the red light effect more daunting and effecting the whole performance experience. Gavin managed to get some impulse responses in that day (which ties into his project) and so glad he did – as the zoom recorder cut out during a good take that in the end was decided that would be the take to be used from the session so Gavin was able to bus the signal to a new channel in protools while running it through a convolution reverb plug in with the halls impulse which recreated the room ambience on the signal – very complicated – but made the video look really good aswell.
The Marryat hall had wonderful acoustics – nice feedback, a little echoey in places, however the pressure of the background noise and demands technically really put me on the spot in this session.
Recording At Caird Hall
The second session was at St Mary’s Church in Haddington was picked by myself and Gavin to provide a traditional Acoustic Setting in which to record the violin pieces, a place that performance of these pieces still is present and was in that time.
The church to me would be described as being huge. Very grand scale which originates from 1380 as a collegiate church, however lots of restoring throughout the 1970s. With the session with completely spoilt for choice of where to record; the church has least 4-5 different acoustics, made up by layout – with almost 63 metres to play with and very very tall ceiling.
After wondering around and playing in all these different areas – we decided to record in the East section of the church.
Gavin describes this acoustic as “complimented the violin the most” – although the acoustic around the middle of the church too was very complimentary to the violin, however with a larger area to influence it was harder for me to keep the intonation as focused as in the East. Got good takes on both violins, footage and my technique got better – which I think really helped with the building and natural acoustic. With previous recordings at Marryat Hall, I strongly felt that intonation and performance nerves was really noticeable and at times in the session, here I felt more comfortable – still little areas but I feel it went much better in terms of a session.
In terms of impulse response, Gavin did three impulses – One in the East where we recording, Centre of the church and the Vault – which was freeeeeezzzzizng.
The recent session at Stirling Castle was very different and a little strange, the nerves were kicking in a little bit with this session as its so pivotal to the project rationale.
I had scheduled this on the day on the same day as the total eclipse so this caused a little issue on the day as videoing and the varying light of the eclpse put the castle into darkness and we had to battle with the light and dark. Gavin changed the camera parameters when it got darker but when it got brighter again the camera just went a bit crazy cause of the light so that had to be changed and caused we disturbances in the takes.
On arriving in the morning at the castle, we were greeted by a member of staff, Eleanor who I had organised the session with who took us to the best acoustic venues in the castle; the Chapel Royal and the Great Hall.
The first venue was used for the obvious religious services, events and she explained how musicians and choirs would play in here also, how they frequently do choir recordings (from all over the world). So first we tried the Chapel Royal, where the sound was very grand and big. The ceiling was high and covered in wooden cladding which would obviously affect the sound – creating a real natural ambience. The space was beautiful and sounded great but had its flaws. Such an ambience due to the reflections of the ceiling and the slap back from the back of the room – it was extremely difficult to concentrate and intonation was becoming an issue more and more. Gavin suggested headphones – so once all sound checked it made such a difference having headphones in. I was able to listen to the sound made by the condenser microphone, which cuts out the reflections and focuses the sound by using the close style microphone. This seemed to work nicely and really helped with the performance and overall recordings.
Another issue we had with the session was the castle was still open to visitors and when people began to arrive at the chapel, it then became far too noisy and pretty much just freaked me out and put me off, so we packed up the gear and moved over to the Great Hall.
The Great Hall, as the name pretty much suggests that is a very large hall which used to host the kings, queens and other nobles over the years. The Hall had a large acoustic due to its high ceiling and had a large wooden beam construction.
Thanks to Eleanor’s advice we had been given special access to the “Minstrels Gallery”, which was not open to the public where this gallery was of significant due to it being a raised platform that would have been used by musicians to entertain nobles and royalty over time.
This platform fits my rationale as it allows for a more intimate acoustic and a recreation of a performer in this situation back then. The raised platform made sound to travel across the hall – so a very sweet room absence despite still being able to cut through the tourists that were entering the hall. The existence of room noise helped to recreate what would have been natural noise for such a venue. Again we used the trusty Headphones to allow extra monitoring for all the issues such as tuning and intonation, and now wish I did from the very start and in all sessions.
In terms of impulse response, Gavin only recorded one in the great hall from the Minstrels Gallery as when we went back to the Chapel Royal it was playing music for visitors, which was a shame so Gavin did an impasse which shows how a venue built in this period of history would have sounded like.
As part of this year we need to do a public exhibition of the project which I have detailed before some of initial ideas with having the baroque violin out as a demonstation thing which I could play and allow public to try and feel the difference (experiencing something new) and about how I’m trying to introduce authentic practice to different auidences.
Perhaps be having the violin set up on a stand would draw people in as its a visual thing.
With regards to the Board itself – I thought more about having context and fact like sheets on practice – like this is what i did and why and information in Bach in a coherant way
Perhaps having a result section with a clear graph of preference
The computer would have the videos and mp3’s from the project but was thinking of having here is modern pitch and baroque pitch and what that means then about the sessions and then having the videos then the final mp3’s then some of the results as a graph
Arrived at castle today in perfect timing with the solar eclipse so that was interesting having to work against natural light and partial darkness for a little time frame.
Also had to work against the clock with tourists so that was an interesting element for the session.
I think today had its good bits and bad bits and I feel it was a little more nerve racking with being in such an awesome place with it fitting well in my project would be good to get a take I am really happy with.
Eleanor greeted us and give us some options and explanations of where would have been performances to the royals within the castle so we did recordings in both the Chapel and the Great Hall on the musicians gallery.
Chapel was a wonderful acoustic, where the castle do a lot of choir recordings so it was really good to be able to play in a space which is still readily used and was back as early as the 15th Century. I found the acoustic amazing till the feedback I got in the space made it very difficult to get notes in tune – similar to Caird Hall but even more challenging. Eventually found trying headphones in the recording process really helped to listen and got a really good take – which was disturbed by visitors coming in – which was a shame but just had to power through.
The Great Hall was also a great place to record in – not as much feedback as the Chapel – had its pros with being up in a balcony where I wouldn’t feel so distracted by visitors. The acoustic was great but also wore headphones which made a difference with intonation.
For both these spaces I had to take the tempo right down, as the space had such a natural acoustic – notes would just merge if I played too fast a tempo and I want every note to be clear as possible for this style, especially since physically it is very difficult to not do so.
Really enjoyed the whole experience not just here but across all three venues. I think something I’ve learnt is how important critical practice has been and that even with ample preparation, nerves and blurbs happen and can’t escape the inevitable. The experience has highlighted personal practice goals, things I still need to work on and with performance anxiety and nerves. I think everyone always wishes for more time in these cases but I feel like I have done a good job with the time had given and the last minute confirmations from Venues.
If I had to do the experience again, I would have done methodical practice much sooner and more practice sessions in acoustic spaces with the recording process to really get under that the pressure of the red light.
All sessions complete; mixes – send out – dissertation
Session at Haddington St Marys went really well. Such a wonderful acoustic and building to play in. With it being such a massive church, we wondered round the whole place – where I played in all the different possible areas of the church, both aisles, the centre, off centre and decided one end of the aisle of the church was the best acoustic.
Session felt more ease with it feeling more like a performance and a more natural place to play in.
Again it took some getting used to, to smooth the passages that always seemed to give me hunch in the recording sessions – which balls down to clear performance nerves trying to be precise, which is necessary for the recording.
Used similar set up to the Caird Hall; minimises variables, ease and was the right way to pick up the sound at its highest quality.
From advise from my lecturer, having scuffs and wrongs notes would make the more traditional performance more authentic so having a perfect take isn’t necessary for me as I am trying to define ‘authentic’ performance practice – where in the baroque period it is more like a performance take perspective, with minimal editing as possible and as recordings weren’t around then its a truer response.
Managed to get a few successful takes in the church on both sides of the fence so felt much more at ease than I was at the Caird Hall.
We did a few impulse responses that we may use, but I will get more of an idea when the recordings come back next week.
See images below of the day;
Castle Friday, where I will just be playing the baroque set up, I’m just hoping all these elements that I have been tackling will be smooth running again.
In the meantime all I can do is keep practicing and not getting stressed about the recording process.
Mainly just an updating blog today from supervisions and what I’ve been up to. Someone come into Simones lecture today to talk about his project and such but a little irrelevant and no significance to what I’m tying to achieve – only thing really that I took from it was how writing in a story form really helps to emphasise the process.
Supervison went well today – tweeked one my questions I was unsure about but feel pretty on top of things at the moment. Invitations being sent which is all out of my control so just have to go with the flow and numbers of participants. (If anyone is interested please drop a comment or contact me for details and I can send out questionnaire and audio to you)
Practice is going good fine tuning and metronome practice to ensure the areas that I was rushing in last Recording session.
Videos and touch recordings sorted got the showcase and evidence of work.
Just prep and updating questionnaire.
Regarding dissertation just need to be working on structure and being really define my research and rationale.
Haddington session tomorrow so looking forward to seeing what the acoustic is like.
Today went really well at the hall, considering we turned up and the maintenance staff were unaware of the booking and the fact there was moving around going on, my gut reaction was that this is not going to work, we would have too much feedback from background noise, but regardless we carried on and managed to get a few decent takes from both instruments today. The acoustic was beautiful very resonate and the space was ideal for what we were trying to achieve. Just a shame I couldn’t get the Caird Hall.
Some good things learnt from today was about keeping things steady and about making every note clear as crystal – took a good few takes and just very nitty gritty areas that needed fixing but we had to just keep re-taking as it would be far too fiddly to edit bit by bit.
Used just an SE Room condenser mic at a similar angle as in studio but just a little further placed
SE Condensor set up and video set up with Canon
Violin Set Up
We took video footage of the session which I will provide within my portfolio and will do some editing for clips for the showcase and my presentation.
We also took another impulse of the room today which Gavin may use for the final mix, like we did back at the studio to get a impulse of ambience.
Just a couple of bars to really nail down for the two recordings coming up but pretty happy I think so far.
I have also been sending out invitations to organisations, people I know, friends, family, colleagues – sending out consent and forms. I also did a speech at the break of orchestra last night to let people know what I am doing and if anyone was interested to let me know.
Already got a lot interested, it will all just be about waiting for confirmation of numbers and hoping I get enough on either side.
Very useful supervision today where I my forms and information sheets are all good to be sent, some good advice on how to improve my questionnaire and a useful detailed lecture about the expectations of the dissertation in a little more depth.
Simone in particular talked about the importance of writing in third person where I would not use I, we you as it makes it all seem so informal. She pointed out how you need to concentrate on the object of the sentence ie. “This recording was created to explore…” instead of using I created this recording or One creating this …
This is passive writing in which enhances the research area.
She also suggested formatting guidelines which were all really useful to know and discussed at layouts, showing some examples.
Supervision was fairly positive, practical work seems to be going in the right track – a positive from a negative about the venue and he said how I should mention this in my dissertation, so this is an impact but you can give reasons why its benefitted and such. Gave some useful things to think about for the questionnaire – to really think about what I want to get out of the information – using questions to get to those answers which I was trying to write questions for. I realised I can’t exactly let the participants do the work for me, didn’t realise I was so blatent till he read it aloud. So over the next week I hope to change most of that and have something better to show next week. I will also work on areas of my dissertation once my supervisor has had the chance to look over my notes to see if on right tracks or not. Not long till I am way on tour also so time is of the essence as it were!
Recording on Friday also, so slow practice, steady practice and making sure I’m all nice and relaxed.
I couldn’t make it into university yesterday due to illness so still not quite right today but I managed to send Kenny my drafts for the survey and all the forms again and I’ve just been editing over the course of today and seeing if I can give him something better to look at. I just really need some initial feedback as I just don’t know if I am going on the right lines with my questions and such.
I think the thing I am struggling with the most is breaking down the questions so both musicians and non musicians could answer and it just flowing, I am hoping some feedback soon will help me cause I can’t send anything till I get my supervisors opinion and consent.
In terms of practice playing with the new bridge is quite different and like I’ve said before I didn’t realise it would make such a difference in how I hear the sound and back over the recordings. I think for the recordings it would be clearer with the modern bridge it is just quite difficult with the time constraint now for recording starting next week and not this Friday, which has its advantages. But I am thinking I should stick to the baroque bridge as thats what will set apart the differences – when if it is a subtle consideration – I am trying to get an aural percpetion on peoples preference to if they like the sound of a modern representation or a more traditional representation.
Still a little gutted about Henry Wood Hall but what can I do, its out of my hands, but something that I could talk about as a problem.
Kenny sent an email yesterday about a structure to follow for the dissertation and asked us to bullet point our ideas for what we would put against each heading he suggested. So I’ve started to tear apart my proposal and looking at what I proposed and what I have actually read and looked at. More importantly i’ll need to specify in detail not generally as that just defeats the purpose. Doesn’t quite help when your feeling ill and not much energy so hopefully be feeling a bit better soon and get some feedback soon.
Finally came up with a project logo that I’ve been working to go with that good ole cheesy title of mine. Throughout today I’ve been currently updating all my information sheets etc and running up a few versions of the survey to show my lecture in the up coming days. Seem to be working a lot better at nighttime so I think this is the best time for me to get my ideas down and doing some productive work.
So since I will be giving people an audio or cd to playback excepts of the recored performances, I thought it would have been good to come up with something quirky rather than just typing it in a boring old font and specially with the presentations coming up would be good advertising and it totally gets my point across. Since its about playing back Bach’s music and the i think the title enough stands out so I wanted to try keep it simple so I reflecting on just the simple play and rewind sign you may have on a iPod or CD or tape. I experimented with where about they were and whether to colour or to keep plain so I just went with a simplistic line version.
I will be using this in my sheets, posters, anything to do with publication or that will be displayed.
Unfortunately due to family circumstances, Gavin can no longer help me out in the recording session at the Henry Wood Hall on Friday coming and everyone else I have tried is unavailable. A little set back, but I really don’t think trying to find a venue with this little time and timeframe of dates and availability is wise. Uneccesary stress and the fact the project can still work with the venues I have, would have just been a more solid number and if things didn’t work out in performances.
On a more positive note, Jenn is still happy for me to send over the completed surveys, forms and files to her for staff and orchestral members interested.
So the activity for the rest of this week is trying to direct the project with going over my information sheets, consent forms and drafting up a survey. From my supervision we discussed how a Likert scale is probably a good way to get out the simplistic style questions I will construction – maybe thinking some yes/no and some open questions. Forms have been checked which I started around christmas time so I think they’re pretty much sorted, just need to actually start the survey! Had a long shift at work today and just needing a quick blog before I can get started on what I need to be doing.
So with my survey I will present it to musicians and non musicians, of which I have contacted personally of organisations, individuals, colleagues, work colleagues, family and friends where it will be a more even spread of people both varying in levels of musicianship and those who do not study music as a profession. I will do some of these surveys as a focus group or individual session where it will give me a change to get a personal view about the experience of style of performance. I’ve had a think already about some of the words I could use ie. Are you aware of Bach’s solo violin music?
This was mentioned in my methodological research part of my proposal so this has made me aware that I will need to follow it up otherwise it would be unethical. That means I should also only be asking questions that relate to the questions I am seeking to answer but I think I will keep these very simple and to the point for both participants.
Still loaded with the cold and rehearsals and concerts tomorrow so going to be lucky if I get anything else done the rest of the weekend.
I am painfully aware of my inexperience of making decisions, specially with something so controversial and of all the fancy probabilities of research methods.
So with likert scale in mind thought I would talk though my thoughts regarding using this as a method.
Likert – is really a psychometric response scale which is primarily used in questionnaires to obtain peoples preferences or a degree of agreement with a statement or set of statements.
Likert scales are a non-comparative scaling technique and are unidimensional (only measure a single trait) in nature. Wish my project I am wanting respondents to be asked to indicate their level of agreement with a given statement or question by way of an ordinal scale. (I think I will include a comments box on some)
These are most commonly seen as a 5-point scale ranging from “Strongly Disagree” on one end to “Strongly Agree” on the other with “Neither Agree nor Disagree” in the middle; however, some practitioners advocate the use of 7 and 9-point scales which add additional granular.
Sometimes a 4-point (or other even-numbered) scale is used to produce an ipsative (forced choice) measure where no indifferent option is available. Each level on the scale is assigned a numeric value or coding, usually starting at 1 and increased by one for each level.
Neither agree nor disagree
Each specific question (or “item”) I feel should have its response analysed separately or I may even sum and compare to related items to create a score for a group of statements. So this would make it a summative scale as I will evaluate results as a whole using descriptive statistics but I can also have specific results for each question.
Individual responses are normally treated as ordinal data because although the response levels do have relative position, I can’t presume that people perceive the difference between adjacent levels to be equal (a requirement for interval data). So in practice, many researchers do treat Likert scale response data as if it were interval data; however, from a statistical standpoint this can be dangerous because there is no way to ensure that participants view the difference between “agree” and “strongly agree” the same as they might view the difference between “agree” and “neutral.”
“The average of ‘fair’ and ‘good’ is not ‘fair-and-a-half’; which is true even when one assigns integers to represent ‘fair’ and ‘good’!” – Susan Jamieson paraphrasing Kuzon Jr et al. (Jamieson, 2004)
The raw data for our example is outlined in a Table I’ve put below, where I would group the participant responses to Profession in order to help relate this data to the statistics I would calculate in the following sections.
So this provides two variations of descriptive statistics and I could then compare the groups statistics.
In terms of methods – I think this will depend on how I want to treat my questions;
Analysis methods used for individual questions (ordinal data):
bar charts and dot plots – not histograms (data is not continuous)
• central tendency summarised by median and mode – not mean
• variability summarised by range and inter-quartile range – not standard deviation
• analyzed using non-parametric tests (differences between the medians of comparable groups)
When multiple Likert question responses are summed together (interval data):
all questions must use the same Likert scale
• must be a defendable approximation to an interval scale (i.e. coding indicates magnitude of difference between items, but there is no absolute zero point)
• all items measure a single latent variable (i.e. a variable that is not directly observed, but rather inferred from other variables that are observed and directly measured)
• analyzed using parametric tests
– analysis of variance (ANOVA)
Analysis methods used when reduced to nominal levels of agree vs. disagree:
Chi-square test – Cochran Q test – McNemar test – Mann-Whitney U test:
I don’t know if these methods are too hypothetical – but I think as long as I am doing an A-B comparison whether that is participants, recordings or a mixture.
Today after some after thoughts the other day about the bridge itself, I decided to sand down on more on one side to make it finer like my modelled bridge and appropriate height. To get the feet all sorted I had to place sandpaper on the belly of the violin and gently sanding till i get the angles for the feet. I sent progress to local luthier Colin Adamson and he seemed happy with efforts and that its to standard, saying to me “Not bad for a musician”. (The inner luthier in me is like yaaaaas)
Sp here is the finished look. (The bridge at this point needed to moved ever so slightly to the right so the bridge was up straight)
It makes such a difference in the sound and I think that will really help in the subtle contrasts I am trying to achieve and for the public showcase. Will take a bit more slow practice I think to settle myself in with the aural change of sound and I’m thinking it will come across best having a steady tempo on the baroque instrument with it being so temperamental.
The change of bridge at first was something I really didn’t think would change the sound, but with it being such a bright sounding fiddle, the change of having a baroque set up makes total sense for the person who previously had it, with it making the sound so much mellower and sweeter in quality. Quite excited to here what the differences will be in the ambient conditions of different halls.
Loaded with the cold so hopefully be feeling a bit better for doing brain power work the rest of the week. Quite happy sanding away and making things, makes me feel I am achieving something by going out and researching and doing the work myself.
Not a complete necessary but as I thought it would maybe had a nice touch I bought a baroque bridge which arrived today. The difference in bridges don’t make much difference, the only differences lies in the carvings. The distance between the fingerboard and the surface is a lot smaller, to do with the angle of the fingerboard which is much straighter as would a baroque violin.
As I do not have a traditional baroque fingerboard – due to costs to repair the fingerboard and replace it and the set up is deemed to be okay by luthier standard to not bother – as it does not make much difference physically. With this in mind the way this fingerboard has originally been placed, the bridge as to curve more towards the E string – all to do with equal distribution and angles which the luthier had sorted in set-up.
So when my bridge arrived today, it is obviously going to be much bigger due to the smaller distance and size of the current bridge. With a original baroque fingerboard – it would be more raised and narrows towards the scroll however my violin does not.
But you can see the clear difference which would make the string level overhang be much greater and much more difficult to play if not impossible to get a good sound with the tension not being evenly distributed throughout. This is something I would have to explain in my showcase if people asked – remembering the fact I have had to compromise due to accessibility of authentic instruments and the cost to buy an instrument from scratch – so I have modified a violin that works for the purposes of meeting my project aims of arguing the subtleties of authentic music.
I drew around the curvature from my the current bridge devised, which I will have to jigsaw and sand down till I get the shape and height I need. I at least have already a model on the violin which I can follow but hasn’t deferred from anything. It is only a bit of wood holding the strings up at the end of the day.
This week in my supervision was about properly catching up on progress and areas I need to be thinking about more. I talked about the venues and how that is more set in stone and will be starting from the 6th of March; he felt that having the Castle will add a good layer to my trying to uncover authenticity.
I talked to him about the experience in the small studio in Glasgow, where intonation was an issue because of the space. We both agreed how for vocalists in his experience have found it difficult to intonate when the space doesn’t have a acoustic quality; so we both felt that the acoustic has a part to how you intonate – something to talk about in my dissertation with how spaces (acoustical spaces) affect performance.
We talked quite a lot about what differences I am approaching for the recordings and it is more a subtle thing; with similar strokes; detache, semitone difference with pitch, bowing differences.
The main thing coming out of our discussions was how I need to think about value as I would get all flustered and a bit unsure of how to say how I feel in words. So over the next week or two I need to be thinking about what is the value in doing what I am doing, why do people want to know and why is authentic performance important?
He was looking for a stronger argument as to why its important to keep authentic performance practice alive via traditional vs contemporary. So ultivately I need to be able to challenge Kenny and have the confidence in my answers. So I will need to try and get the thoughts from my head to the paper.
Next steps for me while I have my practical stuff going on is about the survey itself and the distribution of the survey and the recordings.
So I have three options;
1. Online Survey – this way is good access as a lot of people have internet access and such.
2. Focus Group – a very physical way and a good way to get on hand feedback and exposure. Also quite demanding to organise.
3. Paper base & CD – a good solid way of distributing as it will give more context and like ability that people will want to do it.
Each have pros and cons which Kenny asked me to have a think about.
The survey itself should be quite simple but I want to be able to get all the information I need and give them enough context. He suggested a couple of questions should definitely address “authenticity” – perhaps with not using the word.
We talked about using Likirt scale as it is probably a good way to get to the point answers but also maybe useful having a comments box to give people the opportunity to articulate more.
This will Quantify my results which is what I want from this method. Having a comments box is a good approach I think as it is very often difficult for people to articulate just from a scale so this gives people the means to answer who maybe cannot articulate the same way.
So my questions can be directive but it can be counter productive ie. Exploring authenticity
I want the experience to be inviting for people to want to buy into project and enjoy.
We also had a chat about the showcase, where its about communicating your project and finding a way of getting behind the project for someone in the general public to see and find out. We had talked about this before and how I would be doing a physical interaction with objects which will show the complexity of my project and it is something that is engaging and communicates the work that I have been doing over the months.
On the other presentation, it is to a specific audience which is about putting learning out and showing your progression. It will show your decisions and conclusions where a point you want to make has to be presented in a factual way to support the perspectives of the project. So ultimately I need to show what the information is, what I want to communicate, what are the best ways to tell my journey.
So to do; practice, survey, check over forms, come up with rationale answers of why.
Just back from Aberfeldy with not very much signal or access to internet so quite glad to be able to get back and try do some work. I think it was good having a wee break for a few days anyway to think about things.
So I have a fair bit of planning ahead for the recordings; the first of which being at the Henry Wood Hall next Friday. All organised and sorted with Gavin with the date, confirmation from Jenn Adams, working on the possible placements and microphones being used; mostly all of placements will be about experimenting in the space where microphones may need to be a few feet or even metres away but we won’t know till we get use of the space and acoustic.
From what experts, professionals have told me and from recordings I’ve heard in the space; it is a good acoustic and has had history of a lot of baroque recordings being done both solo and chamber orchestras.
Practice is going well I feel like all the practical considerations are in place, intonation is pretty much fixed, mostly will be about keeping calm and relaxed on the day and in the running up to that I am going in having the best I can. I did find the red light effect really effect me a little in the studio but I really do feel it was to do with the harry potter like cupboard space of a studio I was in; I’ve learnt from the experience and hopefully it will all run smoothly.
In terms of ornamentation and such for the baroque rendition; very simplistic, not too much thats going to overpower. Mainly just making phrases into mordents or turns and trills. All of which at resoluting parts of the harmony or at cadential points.
All about rehearsing all of these things in so that it fries my brain and I won’t forget anything.
Some access to web and reading between spending time with the other half so today before we go out around Aberfeldy exploring, I thought I would try and sum up my thoughts on temperament in relation to what I am trying to achieve. Temperament is a consideration for authentic performance practice, as it plays a big part in the different ways people interpret music today and in the past. So I think what today is about is trying to figure out what is important and how equal temperament has changed how we aurally hear music, however I think what is a real nice thing to think about is how
“Music came first, then the scales accrued after ages of experiment; then came the theorists to explain them.”
(Sir Percy Buck; Proceedings of the Musical Association)
So what is Temperament? Well in a nutshell it is a way of tuning the notes of the scale using intervals that have been modified (or tempered with) from their pure forms. The reason for doing this is to be useful i.e. making a tuning system more useful in a bigger variety of musical situations.
There are many different historical tuning systems based on bringing back musical acoustics to a twelve note division of what we call an octave, which is such a difficult thing to do but what Equal Temperament did in particular is made this problem become more efficient where Gsharp was the same as an Ab. Which is evident in how the piano shows a single key between G and A which suggests this note.
This ET system gave composers the ability to be creative with note spelling, chords, atonal music etc. The list could perhaps be endless at its benefits. Probably not having the music we have had and to date.Barbour (1951) explores in his Tuning and Temperament, of how Bach’s music (in particular the organ)
“would have been dreadfully dissonant in any sort of tuning except equal temperament”.
From my research into its history and what others have written; I feel the music, harmony has been compromised by the use of Equal Temperament. Well ET is so convenient and has been for decades.
As a modern string player it is very natural to be taught the variance of Equal Temperament with what I would suggest being expressive with intonation. My teacher also talks about letting your ears do the work, and how specific notes such as leading notes should be the guide. All this means is in a cadential progression which involves a leading note such as the Gsharp to A (which I just gave an example previous) should be higher than it being in ET position so it leads the phrase more effectively to resolving onto the A. The same principle can be applied to flats, where you want it to be low to enhance the progression and pull to resolution of the melody line. This is all things string players are taught at the very beginning – piano players have it all very easy, when we have to adjust our ears to ET as effectively and close intonation as possible. This raising and lowering of notes means it is better to stay in tune, the nature adjustment of what my teacher calls fine tuning.
But this fine tuning, is all to do with acoustics, physics and the relationship between the two where intonation can’t be fudged really.
So this idea of intonation and temperament plays a big part in my project as its all to day with pitch standards and how I can cohesively show listeners variance of how traditions of pitching and temperaments have developed overtime.
In its basic form sound=vibrations=musical sound. vibrations=frequencey (number of vibrations per second)=pitch standards.
Ie. 440 vibrations per second gives us our standardised pitch of A = 440.
Frequency=notes=intervals=ratios – so every note between notes is broken into simple ratios to get a desired pitch.
1:1 = frequency of one note vs frequency of another note at the same pitch. All this means is that to get a unison sound is made up of two notes that vibrate at the same frequency. These ratios can be applied in the harmonic series (which is a sequence of pitches).
Baroque and Medieval music base a lot of their music around the development of the fifth and the acoustically pure fifth. (3:2 ratio)and the fifths dominated music as a harmonic interval which has a lot to do with Pythagorean tuning. (named after the philosopher I always remember at school while failing maths).
Pythagorean tuning is not a temperament because it is a scale is made up notes in a chain of pure – not tempered fifths. I’ve also discovered how Just intonation is not a temperament either as it calls for pure intervals all the time.
The musical culture after the medieval period was basing itself around keyboard instruments, brass, strings; where having a consistent fifth was so difficult. Its all to do with arithmetic which I struggled to understand but Duffy explains in his book how they had to temper certain notes to be able to make notes more equal. But this means that Equal Temperament changes harmonic purity, where intervals are widened and narrowed to make intervals regular and not having the dissonance of irregular temperaments and what I have discovered is how this can relate to my work and research but Haynes describes by thoughts and way I look at this consideration…
“Temperaments are closed systems designed to make the intonation of instruments with immovable pitch (like the organ and harpsichord) convincing. But singers and players of stringed and wind instruments have no such limitations – “temperament” is two rigid a concept to apply to them.”
Thought I would just do a brief summary of my consideration of pitch for my project. So as part of the project I need to think about appropriate pitch to use for the recordings to go with the two conventions of the style of music; 440 and 415 hz. I should have posted something up sooner but just been so busy with trying to organise venues, other activities and planning ahead, but hopefully this will reflect back on what I am trying to achieve overall.
But as part of my project through research and practice I have discovered how Pitch standards have also changed about the middle of the seventeenth century. Such as the old renaissance high pitch for wind instruments, about a’=462 Hz and a semitone above modern pitch, gave way to a French chamber pitch of c. a’=394 Hz. (which is pretty low).
Pitch then changed to a whole tone below a’=440 Hz.; in the early eighteenth century, this was superseded by a pitch of about a’=409 or 410.
The current practice of making baroque instruments play at a’=415 has in fact very little basis in history. In addition, some modern makers have not been careful in redesigning their instruments to make up for the difference between a’=409 and a’=415, producing instruments which have intonation and response problems.
There were also a small number of instruments from the late baroque pitched at a’=435, about a semitone above a’=409.
The conclusion to be drawn from pitch is that the current practice of playing baroque music at a’=415 is no more nor less authentic than playing at a’=440 and that both pitches require a total redesign of the original instruments, not a crude shortening and retuning, hence why I have had to practice and learn on two separate instruments, different ways. This relates to all baroque instruments of the period not just string instruments, with particular reflection on woodwind at that period.
Rehearsals at the RCS all day today for Glasgow Philharmonia concert on Friday 20th, so not much time to do project work today; although lots of repeat listening on the train of recordings and some reading. Hope to do a blog later this evening or tomorrow before work.
Currently standing in the corridor practicing the Gigue before we start again. Ciao for now.
No rest for the wicked on valentines day, have been doing some slow practice of Bach earlier this afternoon with real nit grit practice of intonation and metronome practice for both styles as that was something that came from the recording session in the studio. At the moment really trying to make sure when using the baroque violin; that I am working hard at not hearing bow noises as it is just so much more difficult to control. Again this is something that could make the recordings more affective, however I do want to try and achieve the best sound possible. Again I don’t think the space did any justice in my playing, so looking forward to placing in spaces that are for performing and recording.
Listening to different recordings of the Bach Gigue again today; James Ehnes, Arthur Grumiaux, Rachel Podger, Nathan Milstein, Alina Ibragimova.
I’ve mentioned previously when analysing current recordings of stylistic interpretations of his music; and I have found Podger vs Ibragimova the most fitting to what I am trying to achieve and most like what I relate to in terms of performance.
Hoping more slow practice pays off; now that I know my dates (pretty much) I can really focus on the research, practice and planning of the next stages in terms of participants, surveys and such.
Lots to do before I end up circulated in NYOS tour and dissertations and presentations. Ahhh.
A key part of research was to look into how to perform dance where Beauchamp-Feuillet’s dance notation system clearly shows the beats which indicate the rhythmic pattern in dances. So where …
Two single steps form a step-unit, and the step-units are related to music. In general, one step-unit is equal to one bar of music. The rhythmic emphasis can be adjusted in the different types of dances. Some dances share the same rhythmic emphasis, and others do not.
In Baroque dances, there are no specific tempo markings. The decision of the tempo is usually based on the division of the beats and pulses. Beats are usually grouped into two or three beats per measure, and the pulses would be the subdivision of the beats as you can see below;
With performance a dance number as it were and from research and listening to various recordings, from a dance perspective – many dance pieces are performed nowadays are played too slowly, specially areas of solo works of Bach. The Dance titled are French noble dances, they don’t specify any tempo marks so it is up to the performer to pick a comfortable tempo to play at whether that is slow or fast.
It is evident in modern string recordings, the main problem which leads to the slow tempo is the “romantic” performance practice; frequently, where as a listener you hear too many beats in a bar.
So the decision of making a good starting tempo is difficult and important to consider for my recordings.
With referring to the Romantic period, composers would write the metronome marking along with the musical term i.e. Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto in D major is titled with Allegro moderato and a quaver equalled with 126 metronome marking. Likewise with Sibelius is titled Allegro Moderato with a tempo marking at 45-60.
Having specific markings of tempo gives fine nuances for performers without having to make decisions about what speed to play. They also indicate the different weights of beats which related back to the time signature. However some of these composers reflect back to the Baroque style such as Stravinsky’s violin concerto giving just the title “Toccata” as a supplement of the tempo marking to suggest to the performer that its a realistic speed
markings indicate to the performers the different weights of beats and pulses, which are related to the time signatures.
In Baroque music, the tempo indicates a ‘mood’ or ‘manner’ of performance rather than a speed to play at which Mozart describes;
It is true that at the beginning of every piece special words are written which are designed to characterize it, such as “Allegro (merry),” “Adagio (slow),” and so on.
(Mozart, L. 1756. Versuch einer grundlichen Violinschule, trans. Editha Knocker, as A Treatise on the Fundamental Principles of Violin Playing. Augsburg. (London: Oxford University Press, 1948, [p. 33]
Therefore, the dance titles in Baroque music are not “authentic” or reliable for the decisions of tempo, used are not in keeping with and indicate to the performers emotions and tastes such as feeling happy, quiet, or sad.
Scholar Robert Donington comments in his book that the time signature in Baroque dance music is like time- words, and they give performers a little help to choose a good tempo to perform at.
Following the proportional notation from Renaissance and early Baroque, the time signatures indicate the tempo by themselves. According to these time signatures, the tempo of the dance music could be compared and adjusted, and the comparison could make a flexible tempo that would satisfy each dance in a suite.
Bach varied the form of the suite or dance suite in his solo violin partitas and cello suites. The form of the suite for instrumental music was established by Johann Jakob Froberger, where the suite originally contained Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, and Gigue. Bach followed the tradition and varied the form in each set, heres an example of Partita No. 1 and the one I am studying.
Tempo di Bourée – 2/2 – Double -2/2 -Tempo/Mood – Lively
Partita No.3 E major (BWV 1006)
Prelude – 3/4 – Opening Mood/Tempo
Loure – 6/4 – Tempo/Mood – Walking
Gavotte en Rondeau – 2/2 – Tempo/Mood – Jumpy?
Minuet I & II – 3/4 – Tempo/Mood – Joyful
Bouree – 2/2 – Tempo/Mood – Exciting
Gigue – 6/8 – Tempo/Mood – Home
I strongly feel from the research on dances and the analysis of the suite of solo work that Bach’s intention of the work for solo violin and cello is not for actual dancing but purely instrumental music for events, courts and concerts. These works mark his development away from the commissions for courts.
Quite a lot to take in but hopefully something that can be applied into practice, knowledge and into my other work.
At long last starting to get all the venues I have been researching and looking into finally sorted. Over the past week I received confirmation from Historic Scotland regarding the use of the great hall within Stirling Castle and they are pleased to let me record and film at the Castle. I have physically signed the questionnaire and received their confirmation and signature and just awaiting the Visitor Experience Manager, Eleanor Muir on the date when she returns to work next week.
The photo librarian based at Edinburgh who has been helping me liase with Stirling Castle, where I spoke to Eleanor directly about my ideas to see whether they could be able to help out in anyway and has led to a more positive feedback in letting me use the space.
We discussed about background noise, which I could tell HS were worried about effecting tourist and my experience, but with studying authenticity and recording in a authentic space – I felt that it would make a more realistic recording to have the hustle and bustle as back in the day when courting, we both agreed how historically, guests and royals would walk around and leave and dance or be dining so I felt it would give the recording more authenticity of back in the day as I am trying give people an aural experience of what authentic music is – whether it is playing with the original instruments and spaces of the time or by keeping his music alive in a contemporary way and space.
So hoping to get confirmation for the 20th of March from Eleanor otherwise HS, gave me some other alternate dates.
So my recording schedule is looking like…
With confirmation from;
– the Henry Wood Hall in Glasgow for the 6th of March (1pm- 4pm)
– the Caird Hall in Dundee, with using the Maryatt on the 13th of March (9am-1pm)
– the St Marys Church, Haddington for the 18th of March (12-4pm)
– Stirling Castle for the 20th of March (t.b.c) (morning)
Had a recording session in a studio up at Caledonian University today, where myself and Gavin wanted to try get things on the move where he in particular wanted to have something to model from for later on when at other venues. I felt this session would be a good practice session of ‘red light affect’ for recording process and to see what still needs work.
In particular with today, as part of Gavins project, he trying out an impulse thing where he takes an acoustical blueprint of the room using a balloon and then that way we can use the ambience on studio recordings, or in other venues and using the same method we will use in the studio with the plugin. It is used to get a very controlled recording to be able to then use the recorded ambience to then simulate the performance in such a venue.
So a question you maybe asking is how on earth can a balloon create ambience??
Well basically it creates a short blast of sound which when it dies off maps the rooms ambience.
So today we had the study from 12-4 but technology was not on our side at first. There were some issues where there was no sound going to the speakers. The C24 mix desk is all digitally controlled swell which caused some issues as Gavin rarely used this studio, as he uses his own software or homestyle studio work. The patches were very poorly labeled and confusing to understand when we were patching from headphones to the correct outputs. We emailed lecturers to help us, no replies so took as 11/2 hours before things magically started to work. So started to get some work down around 2.
We firstly started taking the modern version of the Gigue, where it took a fair few times and needed the click track. The experience in the booth wasn’t for me and didn’t work for this part of the project. Both of us agreed from the session today that the size of space in the recording booth is the pain cause of the results of performance. The recording booth was very small, with only just about room to play. Due to the space being so small, and lack of ambience and resonance due to the sound absorption of the room it made it very difficult to know if I was playing correctly. Naturally a violin is very resonate and the sound waves in this room absorb all of that – which plays a big part in intonation. So in this case when I played there was no natural resonance in the room I could only hear back through the headphones which made it very difficult to make sense if intonation was clear. We worked without the headphones also but still similar results came from listening back to takes. Intonation wasn’t very clear in most of the takes and it was only in areas – which also brings that I need more careful practice and clarity of notes – that every note is important.
For this session at first we did at minimum 6 takes using a Rodes mic and then did some takes with the SE X1 condenser microphone only. We only needed one microphone – specially with the size of space we were using. We placed it just above; like I have researched and the results form both takes in my opinion are unflattering but in places great, however intonation was a big thing. (Click here for previous research)
This experience led to frustration despite various takes but I have learnt a lot from listening back and the three main things are; intonation, clarity and timing. All things that can be worked out with slow practice and methodical playing for both styles.
We also did a few takes with the baroque set-up violin and with the same set ups as we did the other violin with similar results especially in certain sections.
Like with the lesson I had with Robert Gennings about making sure every note is clear, in this case shows how important it is for me to be able to be consistent with clarity of even notes and from the experience today I’ve learnt that a recording studio with this lack of acoustic is not an ideal set up and venues with acoustical set ups are more suited. So this contemporary approach has not worked but now I can move forward in venues that are more suited to performance and recording orchestral and solo excerpts.
Early morning response and now all good and sorted with the RSNO team for the Henry Wood Hall now, Learning Development team are happy with both parts and sorted to meet them at the RSNO Centre office on Friday 6th March from 1-4pm.
Can finally not panic and start to relax a little with having got some feedback from some of the halls and spaces I emailed about using for the recording element of my project.
Yesterday I received confirmation from the Caird Hall team regarding my request which I was really worried they weren’t returning my emails since the end of January. So managed to get to use that space for free on Friday the 13th of March in the morning.
Not long after I received this confirmation from Dundee, Senior Events Coordinator got back to me (Glasgow Life/Glasgow Music) giving me information regarding venue hire for City Halls and St Mungo’s in Glasgow but the recital rooms were both around £400 + vat so unfortunately I wouldn’t be able to afford or fund these places with the time given, so I returned her an email explaining the circumstances.
Very last minute thinking on my part and with a response from Glasgow Music regarding venues I was looking at; I emailed directly the RSN) team who I worked with in the summer regarding using the Henry Wood Hall. I have used the space before in rehearsals and my time with the team last summer.
I was unsure of who I needed to speak to regarding the use of the hall so awaiting confirmation from Glasgow Venues before addressing the team. So I contacted the Learning & Development team about my project and request for using the hall to record and if staff members or orchestral members would be happy to be involved as participants for the survey I will create with the recordings.
Hope to hear something back soon.
The Henry Wood Hall is the name of two orchestral performance halls which are both named after the conductor Sir Henry Wood, where one is located in London and the other Glasgow, which I hope to be able to play in.
These spaces were created to act as a permanent orchestral rehearsal studio from churches that were disused.
The Sir Henry Wood Hall is a Gothic Victorian style conversion where the hall is the main base for rehearsals and recording for the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Scotland’s national symphony orchestra, for well over thirty years however, their main hall of performances take place in the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. The Henry Wood Hall was used lots in the 80’s for recordings and the Trinity Church was designed as the RSNO Centre and Hall for the players and staff.
I’ve tried to do some research on the building and history itself but there is not much, but I hope to speak with staff in person about this as it may help to contextualise areas of my project.
I was having a look at deadlines and its all seeming to loom ahead, not useful when I’m not well, then supervisions being put off so I need to have a think about my dissertation planning and at least try get something on paper; which has been my downfall in last semester just getting started.
With the research dissertation I will need to write a clear introduction where below I have tried to break down what my introduction should include; what are the main points to be able to complete a draft.
The introduction to the dissertation should explain to the reader what I have investigated.
(topic and scope)
1 – Introduction, which should act as a statement of intent
2 – Identify and define the project
3- Areas of concern
4- State the purpose of the project
5- why it is important
7- Relevant to me
8- what does it include
9- Tell them about the approach you will take how it will be accomplished
10- Give an out line of the topic out line
The main issues for me is making sure my rationale and purpose is good enough – I’m just very daunted by this whole process to be perfectly honest. The topic I am studying is so controversial anyway.
I feel that I have identified good and relevant sources which are certain common features in the relevant literature of authentic performance practice, or the particular issues that it deals with this topic and I think once I get started it will be much easier to demonstrate the relationships between treatments of the issue but also with my statements.
Next coming days hopefully get some things more concrete for my own sake.
Having a read at Bukofzer’s book again of Music in the Baroque Era from Monteverdi to Bach (1947) where I wanted to blog my thoughts on how his opinions and research relates to my own. Bach’s solo violin sonatas were finished in the late baroque era, a time where the balance of music hanged between the Italian and French styles; which were very clearly differentiated in early baroque music and even with other nationalist music. Even at this point we can still set apart the styles in the late baroque period of the two poles.
Characteristic of Italian style; “Absolute” music, harmonic tonality, concerto style in instrumental and vocal music, sonata form music hung in the balance between
French; programmatic, coloristic, overtures, dance suites and ornamentation of melodies.
The Germans however, universally recognised as the third national style – is marked by ” proclivity of solid harmony” and textures that are contrapuntal.
Both the French and Italian styles influenced German music, mixture of the two – especially in Bach’s writing and in the piece I am working on.
Muffat, Lully and Corelli – all influenced each other. Bach was also influenced by Graupner (Kuhnau pupil – and him (predecessor)
Germany was known for the organ – polyphonic. Made the violin subject to polyphonic playing.
Bukofzer talks about how Bach imitated the masters of regions around europe; Italy where he imitated Legrenzi, Albinoni, Corelli, Lotti, Caldara, Vivaldi, Marcello and Bonporti. French; D’Anglebert, Couperin, Dieupart, Grigny, Raison, and Marchand. German; Froberger and Kerll, and finally the Protestant Germans – Reinken, Buxtehude, Pachelbel, BOhm, Strungk, Bruhns, Ferdinand Fischer, Handel, Fasch, Graupner, Telemann, and many others.
Bach’s desire to learn from others, his enthusiasm to perfect himself even in the years of fullest maturity, is well documented in books I have looked at.
Not feeling so great today, allergic reaction in which I can barely move my face with it being so swollen so practice is on hold till that asides which is worrying with a planned session with Gavin next week. Unable to go to my lectures this week and getting concerned with venues for recording and progress of project work. Been reading over lecture notes and feedback today to see if that will help me get some inspiration on where to head next.
Since I can’t really practice till I’m feeling a bit more myself and less sore, planning my schedule and emailing round the people i’ve spoken to or waiting for and emailing other places to really try and get these venues sorted; two months almost and unclear other than one venue if I have confirmation with the others.
In terms of practice, practicing ornamentation I decided on is the main task and again making sure notes are clearly articulated, phrased and that it flows for when I meet up with Gavin and for our scheduled time in March.
In my gantt chart for my proposal I proposed between February and March for the Recordings; but have come to realise that with Venues and diaries between both of us, March seems like a more realistic approach and better for diaries for venues.
With regards to the venues its getting a letting pressing, Stirling Castle have emailed me back with forwarding my request to other colleagues at the castle to see if there is anything they can do, due to the visitors being obviously in the space through the day they are worried it may disturb tourists experience.
Perth Concert Hall have finally come back but however cannot offer me to use the main auditorium for free and a over 2000 bill is not something I can exactly afford out my own pocket.
However, I have been in touch with Glasgow University and they are keen but dates maybe an issue as March is a busy time for them but I will be sending them back an email shortly.
Fruit market Gallery have a fragile exhibition on so they cannot let me use the space but were interested…
Just at that stage where things aren’t going quite according to plan, despite my extensive emailing and calling for confirmations.
I have also emailed Glasgow Venues, Edinburgh University and will be discussing with Gavin the possibilities if I do not hear back from other venues. On a more positive note at least I have a church to play in, where I could do both recordings if it boils down to it.
With regards to practice, same lines, getting there – all to speed and phrasings how I want it all to be going.
No other feedback from elsewhere but hopefully I will get more constructive and positive results soon.
Next few weeks I will be planning my questionnaire. I am still working on some of the things Kenny has asked me to work on but I haven’t had the chance to blog about it.
Got quite a lot of composition commissions to do for weddings coming up so trying to find a balance is getting a bit tricky.
With still reflecting back on my previous post about distinguishing factors I thought I would just reiterate what my methods are for this performance practice project. I have more than likely mentioned things before but with feedback I need to be more clear in showing the different methods I am using to produce these recordings.
The definitive term of method is the particular practice to accomplish something being in my case authentically pure and modern recordings of a piece of early music.
1. The obvious is the instruments being used; with a Modern Standardised Violin (Guarneri model) with modern strings, modern tourte bow against a compromised baroque violin set up, with traditional gut strings, baroque bow, baroque bridge.
2. Music scores and editions play a massive part as I will either be following the original score or urtext editions in contrast to editions that changed details such as articulation. I will be using Barenheiter Urtext edition with the baroque performance and will be using an Auger Edition with the modern instrument where there is variance of some bowing but does not distract from trying to follow authentic routes. (Click here for more of my research of Editions)
3. String performance methods are about the techniques that may be involved, with making decisions about positioning, shifts, bowing styles, bow direction and weight which all could be summarised into forms of articulation and technique. The main definitive methods between the two, is the physical practice of intervals for intonation as the fingerboard is angled a different way.
4. The other method that defines the project is scordatura, meaning in italian the mistuning of a string instrument which both Stowell and Boyden describe as tuning different from the normal standard tuning, which I have talked about in a previous post. This method attempts to highlight unusual harmony or timbre and can make passages easy to play. The method can still work with regular notation, where the finger positioning is the same while the actual pitch is altered as scordatura notation. The comparative method is obviously the opposite with playing at concert A pitch as its the modern day standard.
Spoken with Gavin again today regarding venues, updating him on more possibilities I have emailed since I am not getting quick responses from other venues.
I got this space idea from one of my sisters carers, who uses the studio frequently saying he’d be more than happy using the spaces or the warehouses for free and advised to give them an email to Delta Studios based in Larbert, which is an area close to both of us.
I have also emailed Edinburgh based art spaces which would be interesting to have as a venue Sierrametro and the fruit market gallery space. Both spaces are open, contemporary and would give an interesting slant on acoustics and approach to conveying authenticity by not using a conventional space but a space that is useable to demonstrate this aspect of the project.
There has been further update regarding the Caird Hall, they returned by emails about availability on Wednesdays and could offer a Tuesday throughout March. Both of us have university on that day so we will need permission but Gavin asked to see if there was any availability on Fridays. So we are waiting for a response.