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 Posted:   Feb 13, 2014 - 5:08 PM   
 By:   Mike_H   (Member)

Any string players wish to comment on the suggestion that (I'm assuming) the main titles to both these films "Lies appallingly badly for strings"? I wonder if it's a key/hand position situation.

http://www.thestrad.com/latest/editorschoice/faking-it-the-great-unmentionable-of-orchestral-playing

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 13, 2014 - 9:16 PM   
 By:   Ludwig van   (Member)

When Beethoven began to write string quartets in a new symphonically-based style, the first violinist, who was one of the most famous in the world at the time, proclaimed ""Master, the part of the first violin is almost unplayable", to which ol' Ludwig van replied "do you think that I had your wretched fiddle in mind when I composed my work?" The quartet is now considered one of the greatest masterpieces of the literature.

The point is that composers often have ideals in mind when writing, and with the main title music to Star Wars and Superman, it seems that the ideal is to make the unplayable playable in order to achieve something "superhuman", which is after all the subject of both pieces.

 
 Posted:   Feb 13, 2014 - 9:41 PM   
 By:   ZapBrannigan   (Member)

it seems that the ideal is to make the unplayable playable in order to achieve something "superhuman"


Hearing those rapidly shifting "hard parts" in SUPERMAN played perfectly is one of film music's great pleasures.

 
 Posted:   Feb 13, 2014 - 9:42 PM   
 By:   Mr Greg   (Member)

Can't speak for strings, but Superman March is a bit of a swine for trumpets too...the key (D Major at the start for a Bb tpt) immediately has a problem when the tonic (the third and eighth note played in the opening "fanfare" is naturally out of tune on a trumpet, and has to be compensated using third valve slide. In anyone but the most professional, this adds an air of nervousness and doesn't sit nicely at all (the rest of us just stick the slide out before we start the piece and think "feck it"...but it does need discipline to get that note in tune - I've heard it buggered up so many times). Down a tone would have been frickin' marvellous, cheers John wink ...but then of course you change the tone colour.

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 13, 2014 - 10:10 PM   
 By:   Mike_H   (Member)

Can't speak for strings, but Superman March is a bit of a swine for trumpets too...the key (D Major at the start for a Bb tpt) immediately has a problem when the tonic (the third and eighth note played in the opening "fanfare" is naturally out of tune on a trumpet, and has to be compensated using third valve slide. In anyone but the most professional, this adds an air of nervousness and doesn't sit nicely at all (the rest of us just stick the slide out before we start the piece and think "feck it"...but it does need discipline to get that note in tune - I've heard it buggered up so many times). Down a tone would have been frickin' marvellous, cheers John wink ...but then of course you change the tone colour.

Ah the low D, yes? There are some things I don't miss about playing trumpet wink

Williams always talks about how the brilliance of the brass in that register was his main aim for that opening Star Wars 'blast'.

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 17, 2014 - 11:23 PM   
 By:   Mike_H   (Member)

Here's an excerpt from a Herb Spencer interview I just found:

CJ: Although neither of you are string player yourselves.

HS: No, but you’ve got to be conscious where a thing lays, where the guys really draw a bow and get something going for you. Otherwise you get just an “hmm” sound, an organ sound. He’s very conscious of that.

CJ: How do you both achieve that kind of awareness?

HS: Well, we both know the classical repertoire. The stuff that we learned sounds wonderful, usually lays in the right key. You put it up half a tone or down, you kill it. You’d be surprised. Most of the violinists have been trained so that they know where things lay well for them. Something that really cooks. Most of the stuff that he writes is in A, you know, sharp keys.

CJ: Strings generally do not work as well in flat key?

HS: they do… you can use them on purpose in a flat key for an effect. But when the sun comes out, it better come out in another key. Because the half-positions in the flat keys-that’s not where the fingers lay. The flat keys are not as open. D-sharp and E-flat are in slightly different position with slightly different fingering. Of course everyone knows that generally, but specifically you notice a difference in the sound. It’s a little more muted, as little more tentative. Of course, there are no end of examples of when this can be tremendously successful, but usually we try to keep the hell away from that kind of thing. The clarinet will have to play in all sharps, but they have to do that anyhow, so they might as well get used to it.


http://www.herbertwspencer.com/Interview.html

 
 Posted:   Feb 18, 2014 - 12:34 AM   
 By:   Mr Greg   (Member)

Interesting stuff - thanks for posting that smile

 
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