artistic research report 2 ?? candida felici “la sequenza viii per violino solo di luciano...
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Artistic Research Report 2
Second intervention cycle - December 2014/April 2015
Data Collection - and their influence on understanding and practicing Sequenza VIII
Parallel to practicing Sections 1 and 2 (p.1-6) of Sequenza VIII, I continued to read analysis articles on the piece and on the Sequenzas in general.
- On the fourteen Sequenzas :
Candida FELICI La Sequenza VIII per violino solo di Luciano Berio in per archi - rivista di storia e cultura degli strumenti ad arco IV/314, 2009, pp.11-32
David OSMOND SMITH Introduction in Berios Sequenzas. Essays on Performance, Composition and Analysis, edited by Janet K.Halfyard, Ashgate, Aldershot 2007, pp.1-8
Janet K.HALFYARD Provoking Acts : The Theatre of Berios Sequenzas in Berios Sequenzas, Ashgate, Aldershot 2007, pp.99-116
These articles outlined the general characteristics of the Sequenzas :
- Juxtaposition of dissimilar objects or gestures. More obvious in the theatrical sequenzas (S.II for harp, S.III for voice, S.V for trombone), this characteristic is also present in Sequenza VIII for violin (section 3, p.7 : instant changes between FF chords and very rapid staccato piano patterns), in Sequenza XII for bassoon juxtaposing circular breathing technique and classic writing, in Sequenza XIV for cello where the player is required to be both cellist and drummer treating the cello as a percussion instrument.
- Reinvented virtuosity.Placing the soloist at the center of the creative process, the live performance virtuosity is connected to the idea of theatre : the music creates its meaning through physical actions comprehended through our visual sense, as much as through abstract musical sound.
- Musical discourse organised around axis, single note.Many Sequenzas (S.II for harp, S.V for trombone, S.VII for oboe, S.VIII for violin, S.XII for bassoon) start from a single note, repeated, nuanced and sustained in the opening then gradually expanding. Sequenza VI for viola, X for trumpet, XI for guitar use a similar process starting from and restricted material (a chord for S.VI and XI, a dyad for S.X).For Janet K.Halfyard this characteristic introduces a narrative dimension in the Sequenzas like a sort of ritual opening gesture, a musical equivalent of in the beginning
This general overview helped me to form a global image of the piece, to understand the different aspects of the AB motive and to feel the extreme energy that needs to be concentrated in the playing of it.
Detailed analysis of Sequenza VIII :
- Candida FELICI The structure of Sequenza VIII ibidem pp.16-25- Eugene MONTAGUE The compass of Communications in Sequenza VIII for
violin in Berios Sequenzas. Essays on Performance, Composition and Analysis, edited by Janet K.Halfyard, Ashagate, Aldershot 2007, PP.137-152
The detailed analysis of Eugene Montague and Candida Felici gave interesting clues for understanding and practising particular points of Sequenza VIII.
Page 1, Eugene Montague proposes a metrical analysis adding time signatures and bar lines to the score in order to show the potential for phrase structures to emerge from this music.The EX 8.1 in his article goes until staff 5 but I continued the process for the whole page (EX1)
I find this idea very effective for keeping the musical discourse going on in a structured manner without losing the energy.
Eugene Montagues analysis also helps understanding harmonic structures as, for example the ascending fourths p.5 staff 3, 4 (EX2) and also in Section 3 and 4 but I am not working yet on these sections.
Candida Felici makes also very interesting remarks about p.3,4. She notes from p.3 the insistence on E4 and the sounds contiguous to it.They form a motive (EX8 y) that takes its origin in a folk melody collected by Alberto Favara and published in his Corpus di musiche popolari siciliane with the title Nota di Monte Erice (EX9)
Berio used this melody again several years later in Voci.
For Candida FELICI, the end of section 1 and most of section 2 are influenced in some way by this reminiscence : the short motive E - D# - E - D (p.4, staff 1, 2) is first juxtaposed then superposed (EX10) to the cell F - A - F# (EX8 x)
At the end of p.4 and beginning of p.5, the same process of juxtaposition/superposition connects the y element to a 3 pitches cell G# - A# - B : it is in this case, an explicit quotation of section XIX from Coro for voices and instruments (1975-1977) - a duet soprano first violin, the soprano intoning the text its nice while the violin performs a figuration based on y (EX12)
It seems to me very important for the interpretation of these melodic and polyphonic passages to be aware of the origin of the elements that form them.The folk music played a great role in Berios creation.The use of these elements in Sequenza VIII in a polyphonic and complex configuration enlightens the many layers of his musical thought.
Perfomers Analysis - Graphing Dynamics
John RINK in his article Analysis and performance (in Musical Performance - A guide to understanding, edited by John RINK, Cambridge University Press, 2002, pp.35-58) developed the idea of performers analysis suggesting the method of graphing the musical parameters of a piece (tempo, dynamics, pitches and melodic motives, durations, time organisation, etc).For the Sequenza VIII, the most striking parameter is dynamics - very extreme and used in a very striking manner with contrasts, instant changes and, generally, demands that seem to overwhelm the possibilities of the instrument.
I first made a graphing of dynamics after the score and then it seemed interesting to confront it to a sound dynamics graphing of the recording of Sequenza VIII. I used Jeanne Marie Conquers interpretation from : Luciano BERIO Sequenzas Intgrales Solistes de lEnsemble Intercontemporain, Deutsche Grammophon 1998, 457038-2 reedited in 2011.
The comparison of these graphings with the score allowed some reflections on the specificities of violin sound producing (see comparison).We observe how the dynamics are related to instrumental and timbre factors producing many subtle variations according to the choice of the string, double, triple stops unison, quadruple stops chords, use of ponticello, of mutes (usual and practising mute), etc
These variations are the more evident in the AB refrain motive as the pitch and the duration parameters remain mostly unchanged.
It is clear that for Berio the three dimensions : dynamics, expression and characteristics of sound production are always interrelated.
For the bow technique practising of page 1, this comparison is very interesting.One must try to sustain the sound FFF, loosing as less as possible after the attack.I will make a dynamics graphings of my recordings of the piece to check it.
On 03/04/2015, I had an interview and a lesson with Wibert Aerts. It was very interesting and profitable as he gave me keys to the understanding the musical priorities of Sequenza VIII and for the organizing of my work.
- Record : https://ioanhar.wordpress.com/2015/04/04/reference-recording-arp-2/- Feedback : https://ioanhar.wordpress.com/2015/04/07/feedback-lesson-with-w-aerts-
on-03-04-15/ - Interview with Wibert Aerts : https://ioanhar.wordpress.com/2015/04/05/interview-with-
Planning for the next Intervention Cycle(s) :
- Practise Section 3, 4 of Sequenza VIII and play it for December 2015.
- Search for practising methods for the technique issue of section 3 - and ask for advice of the experts.
- Make sound dynamics graphing of my recordings and practice in order to analyse, check and improve the sound production.
- Use the analysis available of section 3 and 4 to get clues for interpretation and practising section 3, 4.
- Continue to see Wibert Aerts and contact also Joseph Puglia (January 2016)