Wet Ink is just wrapping up a successful California tour, which included concerts, readings, and masterclasses at Santa Clara University, Sacramento State, and UC Davis. Our Sacramento concert was streamed live on the web, and is now available as an archive here:
I have posted two new documents here which build upon the concepts we discussed at the combined Rep Class on April 6. First, here is a reference guide for the harmonic series on violin and viola (also works for Cello and Bass, with octave transpositions). Study it for a deeper understanding of the relationship of the strings on our instrument, and keep it around as a quick reference sheet if questions about harmonics arise in your repertoire.
Next, here is a revised and expanded version of the Practical Examples sheet I handed out on April 6. Based on our discussion, I added an alternate intonation plan for the Bach B Minor which proposes that you match pitch to open string whenever possible. On the second page, you will find one possible intonation interpretation for the Bach Ciaccona. Notice how dissonant the overtones are! This is why the Ciaccona is so dark, and also why it is a difficult piece to play in tune.
Click below to download the Drone Meditation pdf. Give it a try in your personal practice, and adapt it as a quartet warmup. Treat the printed material as a “lead sheet” for improvisation. The goal is to feel relaxed, to open your ears, and have the freedom to express. Remember to check Just Intonation intervals against natural harmonics until you really feel comfortable with the way the overtones align.
In Violin Yoga Class on Monday and Wednesday this week, we listened to several incredible works from the past three decades, each of which has had a profound effect on my artistic self. I am posting links to recordings here, I urge you to give another listen.
György Ligeti’s Concerto is an incredible achievement of violin writing, and is on the cusp of being accepted in the standard repertory with the likes of Berg, Sibelius, and Beethoven. Before he began composing the piece, Ligeti studied the solo literature of Bach, Paganini, Wieniawski, and Ysäye in order to gain an intimate understanding of the mechanics of the violin. The result of his efforts is a solo part which stretches our concept of the violin’s capabilities without presenting anything beyond the realm of possibility.
I found this excellent recording of Sayaka Shoji performing the Ligeti Concerto on YouTube. It is inspiring to see her deft navigation of all the technical challenges on video.
The recording we listened to in class remains my favorite, with Frank Peter Zimmermann, violin solo, and Asko Ensemble. They have it in the IC Library, call number CD7688v.3.
On Wednesday, we listened to Wolfgang Rihm’s Fourth String Quartet, First Movement (performed by MIVOS Quartet), and Eric Wubbels’ Euphony, for large ensemble (performed by Wet Ink). Wolfgang Rihm is often referred to as a “Neo-Romantic” or “New Simplicity” composer. New Simplicity, a bit of an overstatement, refers to a return to raw emotional expression and a reaction to the New Complexity Movement. To me, Rihm’s music is a mashup of the hyper-romanticism of Berg, the heart of Mahler, and the meticulous cellular design of Beethoven, all retooled and reimagined for our time.
Here I’ve posted the First Movement, recorded by MIVOS Quartet in 2010:
Rihm 4: First Movement
Eric Wubbels is one of several composers in NYC who continually renews my belief in art. He has a bunch of outstanding recordings posted on his website. Check out “Euphony”, “This Is, This Is, This Is”, and “Shiverer.”
I’m back at my Alma Mater once again this coming week for some substitute teaching (Apr 17-23). I’m extremely honored to be filling in for Prof. Nick DiEugenio. In addition to covering teaching responsibilities for the week, I’ll be doing a series of lectures during Nick’s Violin Yoga Class time (topics will include acoustics and contemporary violin techniques as related to inner pulse awareness and other kinesthetic aspects of music making).
I’m going to finally make a legitimate effort to do some blogging, and will be posting resources for students on this webpage throughout the week.