Archive for February, 2008

Measure 36: Vacation, Cello Dramaturg & Ramblings…

Posted in Uncategorized on February 28, 2008 by cellomuser

This past week I have been on vacation – in my house. Yep – pretty exciting huh? I have probably slept an additional 24 hours above normal since last Friday morning (9/22/08) – and have loved every second of it. The temperature here in central Ohio has not really above been freezing this entire week – which has made wanting to stay inside even more desirable. One of my primary goals this week has been to prep for my tax return. I have probably spent about 14 hours compiling all the data for my regular income, 1099-income, business expenses, and everything else that comes along with wanting to pay my taxes – but the least amount possible 🙂

On some cello notes (no pun intended)…

Suzuki III – The local sheet music store called Stanton’s – which happens to be one of the largest sheet music distributors in the Midwest – called to let me know that they had received a shipment of Suzuki III books. So, I went down and picked up my copy and started browsing through it. With the exception of the first and second pieces – these look for more intimidating and complex then what I have faced to date (with the exception of some of the Dotzauer exercises which I have had to skip). My next lesson with my instructor is 3/10/08. She was out sick this past week – actually in the hospital with a kidney infection. I tried to reach out to her to make sure she was ok and to see if I could help out in any way – but she never responded back. Between Emily and now my instructor having health issues – all of you other instructor types out there need to be taking extra vitamins and taking care of yourselves….

“Musette from English Suite No. 3” – My “dramaturg” efforts have proven harder then I originally thought – more so from a time commitment perspective. Keep in mind that there is not an overwhelming amount of historical information about Bach. My research first started with Wikipedia on the phrase “English Suite No. 3” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_Suites,_BWV_806-811). This led me to listening to the Gavotte II midi file – which sounds like the Musette. Next, I did a search on Gavotte II and Back and came across a URL (book) on Google Books titled “Dance and the Music of J.S. Bach”. It was in portions of this book (at least what was publicly viewable) that I found some information on the “Musette from English Suite No. 3”.

Before I give some details and lest I be accused of plagiarism – let me just state I have purchased this book. I am becoming more and more sensitive about benefiting from other people’s hard work – especially on subjects of which there is not an abundance of historical data or freely available electronic information with that said….

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Musette – (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Musette) A type of bellows blown bagpipe found in rural France; also called musette de cour). It experienced a brief popularity amongst the aristocracy (along with other “peasant” instruments like the hurdy gurdy) in 18th century France. An air or dance written for the musette (bagpipe) mentioned above, or a pastoral piece in imitation of the instrument. Imitative musettes were written by François Couperin and Johann Sebastian Bach for harpsichord, and by Marin Marais for viola da gamba.

Gavotte – Begin copying (page 47)….

The gavotte was beloved as court dance and music for over two centuries [between the 1580s and 1790s]. It reached a high point during the 1720s and 1730s during a “pastoral” craze – where those who lived in cities and courts idealized a simpler rural life, with shepherds and shepherdesses doing rustic dances outdoors to the accompaniment of bagpipes. Per the text (page 47), it was during this period that Bach wrote most of his gavottes…retaining the ideas of calm balance and an expected rhyme…characteristic of this dance.

…A different manner are the four gavottes in the two English Suites BMV 808 (from which Suzuki II “Musette from English Suite No. 3” is from (Gavotte II)) – and 811, which show Bach already a master of the form. Both pairs are strongly in the “pastoral” mode with Gavotte I in a minor key followed by Gavotte II in a parallel major and written in a musette style. […] Gavotte II is a tender musette, which some performers will choose to play slightly slower then the most forceful Gavotte I.

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So there you have it. Some dramaturg-like research on “Musette from English Suite No. 3” from the Suzuki II book. I will try to post more of these on additional pieces I work on from the Suzuki series.

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Measure 35: 2/11/2008 – Lesson Notes

Posted in Uncategorized on February 12, 2008 by cellomuser

I had my first lesson since late November 2007. Even though “L” returned to classes back in early Jan, I have not been in a rush to traverse the campus in the cold. In addition, work has been crazy and I am in the middle of an internal interview process that could result in a significant job change for me at the company I work for (have completed two out of six possible interviews – waiting to hear first round results). So off we go….

L and I agreed to extend my lesson by 15 minutes; they are now one hour long instead of 45 minutes. We also changed days from Wednesdays to Mondays.

Since it has been a few months since our last lesson, I took a few minutes to catch her up on some of the small Christmas performances I did, some of the small cello upgrades (new A & D strings, wolf-tone eliminator…), and my recent revelations with my bow hand position (nothing shocking other then feedback from both her an my first instructor finally clicked). Yep, a bona-fide “ah-ha” moment; albeit a few months after the fact.

We started out playing a few exercises from Dotzauer’s Method I; exercises 60 and 62. It was great – by no means perfect – but it just sounded good. I highly recommend this book. There are some days where I will find myself just playing these exercises. And since there are accompanying staffs – you can play with others or throw them into something like Finale and play along with it. Good stuff.

Next, I played through “Musette from English Suite No. 3” (Suzuki II, Bach). My shifts in the 2nd part of the song were not that great, but I made it through the song. My assignment for next week is to perform that song paying attention to my shifts and acknowledging the markings (more on that later). Another assignment for next week is to tackle “March in G” (Suzuki II, Bach). I have already been fooling around on this one, but not in earnest. I fully anticipate being able to play it in an acceptable manner.

One portion of her feedback that has really stood out to me was her guidance on not being one dimensional when I am playing music. L thinks that I am playing too mechanical-like – and I whole heartedly agree. Thus, I am making an effort to perform a dramaturg like function for each of the songs I am playing (my theatre course from OSU may actually pay off in some form…). Per wikipedia ‘..The dramaturg will often conduct research into the historical and social conditions, specific locations, time periods, and/or theatrical styles of plays chosen by the company, to assist the playwright, director and/or design team in their production.’ For my sake – it may not be necessary to go too in depth but the following is necessary:

1. Truly understand the style of the music
2. Truly understand the tempo through out the music
3. Is there some unique historical context of this particular piece

Finally, my last assignment for next week was to go and purchase the Suzuki III book. Even though we are not entirely through Suzuki II, L wants to start diving into it. L mentioned that it seems like I am playing with a whole different confidence level since we last met. She is right; playing in front of people, was sort of a turning point for me. I think L wants to exploit this burst of confidence and progress – and I am looking forward to it.