Saturday, July 17, 2010

Transcription - Thais Meditation

It's not just for ice skating competitions anymore!

While the beautiful violin solo from Thais by Massenet is a favorite in the recital repertoire, the addition of the low-A key on the oboe renders it a perfect fit with the oboe's range. It's important to note that this piece is very adaptable without the additional key, however the violin line's decent to the "low-A" pitch means that the phrasing never has to be broken on the Loboe. The only element perhaps a bit out of the norm comes towards the very end where the second "A" above the staff is written. I'll admit that when I was asked to play the prelude at a church service last weekend, a performance time of 8:15am feels terribly early to be hitting that register...
A great solution, should one not feel up to the hitting the original pitch, is to insert a harmonic "A" instead (fingered as a low "D" with the side octave key). 
It gives the oboe an ethereal sound and I feel it is an excellent ossia option in the piece.

Thanks to the convenience of public domain downloads, the music to this piece can be found through the International Music Score Library Project website.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Bach Violin Partita Transcription

This evening I began work on a transcription project that I have been interested in for years. Bach's Violin Partita No. 3 has always been among my favorites of all of the solo pieces, particularly the Prelude.  Even with the Loboe, the music extends to the G# below the staff.  Of course, I am  hardly the first person to want to tackle this music. Bach has been transcribed for every instrument imaginable.  Of course, that also means that there are many degrees of success with these versions. There are obvious issues such as articulation, phrasing, and lest we forget, breathing! But in tackling these issues, the result can be an important addition to the repertoire.

Bela Fleck, perhaps one of the world's most accomplished banjo artists, constantly challenges himself by combining virtuoso technique with a wide range of musical styles. He brings solo and ensemble music to an instrument that struggles to shed its "Deliverance" image. Among his amazing creations, Fleck embarked upon an entire "Bach Project".  Below is a short clip that includes Fleck talking about the transcription process.