By Carolyn Abbate
Who "speaks" to us within the Sorcerer's Apprentice, in Wagner's operas, in a Mahler symphony? In asking this query, Carolyn Abbate opens nineteenth-century operas and instrumental works to new interpretations as she explores the voices projected by means of song. The nineteenth-century metaphor of tune that "sings" is hence reanimated in a brand new context, and Abbate proposes interpretive techniques that "de-center" track feedback, that search the polyphony and dialogism of song, and that remember musical gestures frequently marginalized by means of traditional song research.
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Additional resources for Unsung Voices
Many choruses memorize most or all of the music they perform, and, in the process of doing so, they overlearn these works. As a consequence of these and other advantages, many of us become—rather than conductors, in the active sense of that word—coaches, who work and rework passages until they are re¤ned. Some of us almost stop conducting, spending our time on the podium only starting, stopping, and shaping well-drilled choirs. When we confront an orchestra, then, we have to really conduct again, and we feel ill at ease—perhaps even inadequate.
The amount of vibrato employed is related also to the stylistic period, to some extent; you may want rather more of it in Tschaikowsky than in Mozart, for example. With respect to tone quality, there is a standard point for bow contact with the string. This varies somewhat with the particular string itself, occurring further from the bridge for the G-string of the violin, and closer to it for the Estring, for example. ) The composer may deliberately seek another sound, however; thus when he wants the more transparent quality one gets by bowing on the bridge, he marks that spot sul ponticello; conversely, when he wishes the rather hollow sound obtained by bowing near the ¤ngerboard, he marks the part sul tasto (for which a somewhat faster bow may be needed).
Watch the clock closely during the last part of each rehearsal, too; running over schedule with a chorus may not be serious, but it can cost a great deal of money for overtime with a union orchestra. It is customary, if it does not disrupt the continuity of the work, to release players who are not needed. Chart the use of woodwinds, brasses, and percussion prior to the rehearsal to determine if any of them are tacet in one or more movements. If it is practical to do so, then, begin the rehearsal with the movements or works which require the entire orchestra; continue later to those movements or works which use fewer players, excusing unneeded instrumentalists as you proceed.
Unsung Voices by Carolyn Abbate