The first half, up to the repeat, sort of made sense, but I wasn't sure what to make of the part after the repeat. I need to think about the bass to see how it fits, with that weird flat. At the moment I don't know how to make the second half attractive either (who knows, maybe even Handel had days when he wasn't feeling very inspired about the second half of a minuet). I can see it's a nice piece for practising jumps though, and getting the changed breath-pressure right, from low to high and back, isn't always all that easy with a recorder. Is it the 2nd half that was bothering you too?
Posted 22 July 2019 - 14:34
Yes, it's a great practice tool! The first part has sort of grown on me except in my version there's a breath mark in bar 16 after the first crotchet - ie after the minim and before the repeated quavers - it catches me every time. I want to phrase after the minim and start the next phrase with the crotchet. The second half is good for slurring! Technically, it's the not the hardest piece my teacher gave me for this week - by a long way - but it's probably challenged me the most to make sense of it. Perhaps it is one of those pieces that when it's fitted with the accompaniment it sounds 'right'! My version is from Easy Pieces from the 17th and 18th Centuries and it has a piano accompaniment. As an aside, I love that little collection. It has some real treasures!
Posted 22 July 2019 - 16:22
Perhaps it is one of those pieces that when it's fitted with the accompaniment it sounds 'right'!
I don't know this minuet but I often find that pieces that are baroque or earlier, and slow, can be really tricky to navigate without an accompaniment - tricky both to keep the timing right, and for them to sound any good. The "Italian Ground" from the Division Flute is like that - it's not especially difficult because it's quite slow but there are assorted gaps and it sounds better all round with accompaniment.
I'm working on some pieces from Dowani books at the moment. They are quite expensive but they do have accompaniments (and demo versions) and I find that really useful, plus the pieces are hard enough that they keep me going for a good while (ie, I get my money's worth out of the book!).
Posted 23 July 2019 - 06:42
I agree. I'm tempted to say 110% but we've decided here not to encourage the misunderstanding of percentages even in jest. In any case, slow can be extremely hard on a recorder because it can challenge breath control and mess up phrasing. Our teacher often tells my husband that he's lucky - the piano can be practised slowly but that's much harder on a wind instrument.
You reminded me that I'd bought a Telemann Dowani ages ago but it was far(!!!) too difficult for me then. I really must take a look as maybe I can manage (some of) it now. I've just ordered Gudrun Heyen's Concerto (with CD) which is described as suitable for the second year of study. It has some Playford which I know and ok that isn't particularly difficult but it also has Greensleeves to a Ground (some of) which I still can't play after 4 year's of playing! So I suspect Concerto might be a mixed bag for me. Some bits will make me feel smug and others will really tax me. I like books like that.
Posted 23 July 2019 - 09:13
Some bits will make me feel smug and others will really tax me. I like books like that.
Me too - especially the first bit
Posted 23 July 2019 - 09:36
Oooh, that's a coincidence. I've just rehabilitated Stefan Temmingh and put him back on my listen-to list, because of a very attractive version of Telemann's flute fantasie No. 10 (apparently played in the World's Biggest Lavatory), played with great elegance, and not over-stated. Previously he wasn't my favourite professional, partly because he's far too dashing and handsome, but also because his version of Greensleeves to a Ground, on YouTube, is, in my view, awful. So if you struggle with it, Zixi, you're in good company. I think it's very hard to play half-way well (I can't). Agreed on books: a good mix of confidence-boosts and new challenges.
Posted 23 July 2019 - 10:55
oag - Doesn't the novelty wear off though?
elemimele - I thought: How can anyone mess up Greensleeves to a Ground? It's soooo beautiful that even when I play it I can't destroy it!!! But you're right. Stefan needs to be stood on the naughty step for that one! I couldn't listen for long... I wish he wouldn't dip and sway so much either - I began to feel quite sea-sick! I wish I could play like that though!!!!!!!!!!
Posted 23 July 2019 - 11:15
elemimele: thanks for the pointer to ST's GtaG, not one I was aware of. I don't wish to be rude about it (it goes without saying that ST is a far better recorder player than I will ever be) but I agree it's pretty awful, and particularly disappointing in terms of how he deals with some of the trickier divisions. 4 is easy enough to play but hard to deal with the repetitions in a way that makes them interesting, but he just hides them behind some ensemble work - I had to listen twice to make sure he was playing them. 8 is difficult because it can sound screechy, and the big jumps E-A-A in the first and third bars are hard (I often miss the drop to the first A) and he deals with that by simply missing it out. I find 9 the hardest I think - I can play the notes but it mostly sounds like an exercise I'm struggling with. His solution is to give it to the viol(?). Okay, he didn't do the performance it so I could learn from it, but still...
On the other hand, I'm impressed by how much exercise he gets out of it - I'm more like the viol or lute players. I could do with getting more exercise though so perhaps I should try to emulate him in that regard.
Posted 23 July 2019 - 15:37
I think maybe it's one of those situations where a top-level performer is desperately trying to do something new with an old, well-known piece; they're looking for a way to make their performance unique. The recording doesn't help; there are bits where I can't hear him at all, and he's just lost in his accompaniment. But I'm so, so glad I listened to his version of the Telemann Flute fantasie, because it's a completely different kettle of fish. It's very beautiful (and accompanied only by still pictures of him posing on a beach, so there's no leaping around, though the sea-and-spray Baywatch handsome looks still make me jealous). I love the 10th fantasie very much, it's just a gorgeous piece start to finish, and he certainly does it proud.
Posted 24 July 2019 - 08:55
I think you're right. The same happens with 'great plays'. I hate it when someone does a Star Trek version of Lear. Although I sympathise with the dilemma I prefer Shakespeare as close to how it might have been... and that's up for debate too... Anyway, after listening to some of ST's other recordings, I've bought a CD.
I hope those of you in the UK are coping with the heat. I don't feel like playing when it's this hot... Luckily, this week's pieces aren't as hard as last week's!
Posted 24 July 2019 - 11:07
My husband gave me a CD of recorder music from the Clarinet Institute and as I was browsing through them I came across a book by Frank Higgins on learning the descant recorder. It's ancient. But it has a diagram discussing breath control. Although I understand breath pressure etc and it's something I've spent more time on than anything else so I'm pretty confident about it; I really can't understand his explanation though it feels as if it might be very very useful. The book is also on the National Library of Australia website here:
The diagram is here under 'Placement Chart' page 40 in the original book.
and the explanation here under placement page 2 in the original book:
Any idea what he is getting at beyond the obvious 'pressure' advice?
Posted 24 July 2019 - 16:34
To be honest, I have no idea what he's getting at. Everything else made very good sense, and was clearly written, but when I read the paragraph on placement, my jaw certainly dropped and I felt a sense of hollowness in my head rather than my chest. I don't want to be unduly critical; I think sometimes even the best teachers and musicians end up believing strange things (because the strange things work for them) which perhaps have no basis in fact.
The recorder is aware of what breath pressure is applied to it, and how suddenly the pressure is applied (i.e. articulation). It is almost certainly influenced by turbulence caused by what's going on in the player's mouth, and at a pinch I'm prepared to listen, sceptically, to arguments about mouth-size and resonance. I cannot believe the recorder has the foggiest notion whether its player is thinking about his/her nose, or placing the note in their chin, whatever that might mean, so I can't see how this can affect the sound it makes in any way.
The things that I consider important in a book at this level are:
(1) he's right about constant pressure. Of course low notes need (much) less pressure than high, so in that sense there isn't a constant pressure, but the point is this: some beginners tend to puff at the recorder: they find the fingering and blow the note in the way you might blow the seeds off a dandelion. His comments on constant pressure are presumably to discourage dandelion-puffs, and instead get the player to apply a steady pressure (initially holding it with their tongue), then let the air go, at that constant pressure, into the instrument, to sound a constant note. Clever effects can wait for later. The role of the lungs is to provide the steady pressure, the tongue to turn it on and off like a tap. The concept of applying a steady pressure also encourages the player to think about what pressure is right for the note.
(2) it's good to encourage people to listen to the note they are producing. Telling a person to place the note in their nose will, on the good side, encourage a person to listen to the note (otherwise how can you tell where it is?)... but on the bad side they're also going to have half their brain-cells thinking about their nose, rather than doing other useful work. It's pseudo-music, encouraging people to take an unnecessarily mystical view of something which is actually a very practical matter of physics meeting human anatomy.
But as I say, I don't want to be too critical. Everything else is jolly good common sense (though I'd count some of his 4/4 examples in 2/4, but then again, ABRSM would probably fail me in the recognise-the-time-signature test!)
Posted 25 July 2019 - 07:43
@elemimele - rofl - you made us both laugh here. I agree, some of the stuff in that little book is extremely useful and I can't help thinking that he is trying to say something I'd like to understand but as it is presented it seems to be nonsensical. My husband thought it required a tracheotomy! I think the pseudo-mystical is found outside of music too... and not just the rest of art! Some people adopt pseudo-mystical explanations for things science can explain very easily and they're particularly prone to the magic explanation when it comes to technology! Anyway, thanks for looking at it and for the practical suggestions and for making us both laugh!
Posted 25 July 2019 - 09:31
he's right about constant pressure
I think that is useful. When my son started playing the clarinet at school he complained about running out of breath too quickly, which was of course because he was pushing far too much air through it - it was hard to get him to understand that all you really needed to do was keep the reed vibrating. I know it's a bit different with recorder but I've found that useful as a concept: it is (afaik!) a standing wave inside the recorder and all you really need to do in principal us push enough air across the labium edge to keep that going. As far as the florid language goes, it does sound a bit nonsensical, but perhaps a little bit of it is like the eskimos and their dozens of words for snow - we don't have them and we can't describe snow in the way that they can. I think we don't have words to describe sounds (and how to make them), not at a very low level. Think how hard it is to explain what something in a foreign language is supposed to sound like, and how we end up with all that "form an E in you mouth but then say U" stuff.
I hope those of you in the UK are coping with the heat. I don't feel like playing when it's this hot...
Cool and wet and windy here - business as usual As it happens, I've got an unexpected couple of free hours and I'm going to enjoy them by blowing very gently into my fipple flute.