2020-03-03 (Adaptation) Venetian Solo Practice
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Vivaldi liked challenges.
He liked to show off his great skills on the violin, playing fast and at times at very high pitches, close to the bridge. This is well attested. Also he liked to challenge his best students with hard and captivating tasks, which is demonstrated in numerous pieces (e.g. RV 346, among others). While not explicitly documented for the present piece, it also adapts well to the challenges we shall demonstrate here.
The Vivaldi piece for our challenge is joyful and adventurous. It is the second movement "Fantasia" of the Sonata for Violin and Basso Continuo by Antonio Vivaldi RV 9 (published 1709), given in extenso below. It is marked presto.
In addition, we present a second, more complex adaptation of this movement. For this version, Vivaldi's equally-spaced bars were converted into unequally-spaced bars, and two G-scale passages were placed into the root passage which is written in D major, like the original. In comparison to the original, the adapted version seems a bit "zippier", but it is longer and more difficult to perform.
In Vivaldi's spirit of friendly challenges, we wish to see how one can master these two presto passages.
And how fast would that be? Presto should be incredibly fast. In modern terms and according to Wikipedia, this should be at 168–200 bpm. In Vivaldi's time, when time was measured more in terms of human capacities than as precise beats per second, we may think of presto as "as fast as possible". A good comparson in Vivaldi's contemporary terms is given by the presto passage of his "Summer" in "The Four Seasons" (RV 315). The performance by Anne-Sophie Mutter is particularly memorable and well worth watching (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=124NoPUBDvA).
So, let's see. How fast can you play our two presto passages – without missing any notes and while still maintaining appropriate durations? Can you also slow down considerably and still maintain the same proportional durations?
Both pieces are performed at the same beats per minute, 110 bpm for the first part and 130 bpm for the second. All audio settings are kept the same.
Vivaldi RV 9 "Fantasia":
EKeller_Vivaldi "Venetian Solo Practice":
Water lily, courtesy of all-free-download.com
2020-03-26 (Compose) Calls in the Forest - 3 movements
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What happens if you called into a forest – and the echo returned something else?
What if an ancient call came back, reminding us about living in harmony with the elements around us? About listening to others and respecting them? About ignoring fools, but seeking compromises when they are possible?
Three ancient echoes come back to us. Let's listen to what they suggest to us.
What can it be?
At first we are surprised. What can this be? The echo comes back, and yes, it is familiar. You recognize the form. Haven't you heard it before?
And then suddenly, the music stops. What now? The form returns, but it now is different. Similar, yet different -- so strange! Slowly you begin to recognise the new shape. Can you live with it? Can you accept it? Let it become part of you?
Remembering an answer
Here comes the moment of truth. Here the secret is disclosed. A deep and profound joy was already deep in you, and now you can remember it. It is becoming part of you. Yes, what a magical moment this is.
Joy is now in you, and you are well with all the people around whom you love and cherish. It is a time to celebrate inside, and a new promise that is in the air.
I used three old Celtic melodies here. Similar basic melodies have been employed since medieval times in various traditional Celtic folk songs.
The first melody is familiar from “The Grenadier and the Lady”, which was later used in various forms of “An Emigrant's Daughter”.
Another traditional tune was used in the second melody, familiar from “She Moved Through The Fair”. I wish to credit this suggestion to Frank Lennon, who maintains an excellent compendium of Celtic tunes at http://www.irishmidifiles.ie/midifiles.htm.
I do not know the origin of the third melody. I furnished a minor accompaniment for this short and happy Irish melody in 2017. Here it finds a more substantial embodiment.
Here is "Calls in the Forest":
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Celtic music shows an exceptional and happy combination of strong melodies and interesting rhythms. No wonder that this type of music has inspired many wonderful modern compositions and music groups.
A few years ago I reached back to the roots of Celtic music. In 1873, P.W. Joyce published a precious set of 100 melodies collected from Irish harp players and other local musicians, to be followed in 1909 by second collection of 842 melodies. Harmonics to these tunes were provided by Professor Glover according to known Irish patterns.
Most of these melodies have been widely forgotten. This seems a good place to revive some of those melodies in a modern interpretation. The melodies presented here have been "modernized" with various modifications, comments, extensions and/or new basslines.
These tunes were all created with virtual instruments in our own unique recording setup. These recordings are set in the public domain.
A great deal more information about these and more melody collections by PW Joyce is available on the PW Joyce Irish Music Microsite.
P.W. Joyce. 1873. Ancient Irish Music: One Hundred Airs Hitherto Unpublished, Many of the Old Popular Songs, and Several New Songs. Edited and collected. Dublin. McGlashan and Gill.
P.W. Joyce. 1909. Music And Songs. A Collection of 842 Irish Airs and Songs Hitherto Unpublished. Longmans, Green, and Co.
On more about Celtic music in general, see
Current complete collection
Ace and Deuce - P.W.Joyce Collection 1873 no 14
P.W.Joyce Collection 1873: "The words 'Ace and deuce' (or one and two) mean here the highest pitch of excellence; and as the name indicates, the tune was considered the perfection of music when well played on the bag-pipes, and its correct performance was believed to be a sufficient test of the instrumental skill of a piper." (Tempo: original 74, here 120).
Do You Remember - piano - P.W.Joyce Collection 1873 nos 21-24
Do You Remember - flutes - P.W.Joyce Collection 1873 nos 21-24
Slan Beo. Farewell - P.W.Joyce Collection 1873 no 4
2019-11-17 (Compose) Do You Remember?
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Here is a simple, but profound story.
There are three natural phases:
The first phase of "Remembering a lost love" tells about someone who once was at the centre of the storyteller's life. The melody recounts in flowering terms some of the most wonderful moments experienced during that time.
In the second movement, we have moved to the "Regret about the lost love". Here we are reliving the pangs felt in missing this precious person. Did we not appreciate the Other as fully and as completely as we might have? Oh, how we are so sorry about the person who has now gone away, and will never come back.
In the third movement, we are in the present. Now is the time of "New hopes". Time moves on, and new persons have appeared on the horizon. We can move to new and happy moments. Hopefully we have learned something, to make the next adventures yet richer and even more complete.
Back in 1873, P.J. Joyce had recorded four accounts and related melodies in various parts of Ireland, which tell this story in somewhat similar ways. One can identify a resemblance to the three movements in my more elaborate version. Joyce's first two melodies in major key emphasized the initial phase of the story, the next movement in minor key recounted the second aspect, and the last melody, again set in major key, evoked the last and concluding element of the story.
Here as one continuous recording are the four versions that were collected by P.J. Joyce:
And here is my interpretation, both as a piano and as an orchestral version: Due to the limitations imposed by the artificial rendering, I definitely prefer the first, the piano-only version. Some day I hope that we shall have a natural recording for this piece, which will render better justice to the orchestral version of the story.
MP3s and sheets are here.
Eric Keller Collection
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The distinction between original composition and original interpretation is clarified here.
These compositions were all created with virtual instruments in unique recording setups. They are subject to copyright, but they are free to use in private listening.
Current complete collection
19-11-17 Do you remember? original interpretation
18-10-29 Etude 2 in C Lydian original composition
18-06-18 Etude 1 in C Major original composition
18-05-19 Les Folies du Monde original composition
17-11-23 Reflections original composition
17-11-02, 2018-01-27 Springtime Variations original composition
17-05-03, 18-01-18 Musica Solemna original composition
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