Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Violet's... 100 Meter Dash?

I found this video of Violet's Tango on YouTube recently:


Was the building on fire and they had to get through the piece as fast as they could before they evacuated?  Why in the world would you take this piece at breakneck speed?  It's a tango  - it says so in the title, for goodness sake.  A tango is a dance that requires a moderate tempo.  There's no way anyone could dance to this tempo.  Besides, I clearly wrote a tempo marking right there in the music:

Moderato.  As in "moderately."  As in "not fast."  Clear as day in black and white.  I even specified a metronome marking just to be even more clear - 120 beats per minute.  Consider that a speed limit sign.  This conductor was doing the equivalent of 70 in a school zone.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: just because you CAN play the notes fast, doesn't mean that you SHOULD play fast.  When you take music - especially dance music - too fast, you lose all the nuance and emotion, and you waste the opportunity to give the music expression.  Violet's Tango is a character piece with bold contrasts, nuanced harmonies, and a sly, flirtatious style.  All that is thrown out the window when you plow through it like a panicked cheetah.

When you race through a piece like that, you're not only playing it wrong, you're showing disrespect for the music, your audience, and your own growth as a musician.  So I once again beg conductors and orchestras everywhere: please please please please please pay attention to the tempo markings.  I put them there for a reason.

It should sound like this. 

Monday, May 3, 2010

New Submissions

It's that time of year again!  I just got back from the post office where I shipped nine new pieces of music and a CD to Alfred Publishing for consideration in the 2012-2013 String Orchestra catalog.  My fingers will remain crossed for approximately the next three months while I wait to hear back from the selection committee.

This year I sent in nine original pieces, none of which were re-submissions.  Three beginner pieces, three intermediate-level pieces, and three advanced-level pieces and a good mix of styles and keys.  My hope is that by giving them a broad range of music to choose from will increase my chances.  In the past, they've chosen one piece from each ability level and each of a different style and .  Here's what they chose last year, for example:

Sneaking Suspicion: beginner level, minor key, all pizzicato, scherzo style
Storm Trail: intermediate level, minor key, unusual time signature, "Gauntlet-esque" style
Star of Valor: advanced level, major key, part independence, shifting, heroic style

I have a few favorites among this year's submissions, but I'm proud of everything I've done and would be happy just to have something selected.