More violin thoughts.
Skip this unless you are really interested in obscure musical ruminations. I've written this to get things clear in my own head. Warning: There is not one single equine referred to in this post!
I'm going to pick up from this from the last music post: On my couple of re-starts on violin, I've always gone straight to Perpetual Motion and taken it from there. It's the first thing that's not twee in Suzuki Volume 1; it just plays with the beauty of very simple melodies that you just vary and repeat variations of. It's actually really meditative, and as mentioned, I like the echoey variations best where you're not long-bowing a note, but doing short return strokes that break up the note. And from the beginning, I started playing that staccato in preference to as written, until my violin teacher at the time (not Jude) said, "Could you sometimes play it like it's written? That's a skill too, you know!"
I'm a first-position, non-vibrato player, and have never really enjoyed vibrato anyway to listen to, especially on the high notes, where it makes the fingers down the blackboard experience worse for me. That's not to say there isn't good vibrato, especially on the cello. And that's not to say that one day, perhaps in my 70s, I might decide to learn third position and vibrato after all, but for now I am content.
And how could I not be, when I really enjoy the tone that can be produced very plainly... and when there is double stopping
! Now there's a bit of magic. On a violin you can play on two strings simultaneously; the bow is pretty happy to sit on two strings at the same time. To triple stop, you need a bit more dexterity than me, and perhaps a flatter bridge.
If you think playing an open string on a violin can make a loooooovely tone (as long as it's not the E-string
), then when you start to double stop you're in for a real treat. There's something so mesmeric and beautiful about two strings half an octave apart "singing" together. It's like putting together melody and harmony in choir, just wow
I can now see why it is that watching a particular concert film woke up sleeping parts of my brain this week and got me thinking violin again. It's really because there is a lot of similarity between the textures being created in that concert, even though it's a different musical style, and the kinds of things that I really enjoyed as a violin learner.
We've had this one before a couple of pages back, and because you can see people actually putting it together in this one, I decided to repeat it instead of put in the studio version with the official clip that has people in a snowy landscape with incongruous palm trees that induce cognitive dissonance.
Plus I think the live version actually does it better. Big compliment to be able to say that...
I'd like to draw particular attention to the instrumental interplay here at the beginning of the song. What you've got here is a simplicity and beauty to the melodies, with enough space in the mix to hear them; and complementarity, and progression, and call-and-response, and lovely variation around basic themes, and everything just hanging together so well like an organic whole. It's not one person or instrument standing out from everyone else; there's an equality to this, with everyone contributing things of similar value, and there is a synergy to the way this works out. It reminds me very much of choir practice. And it's very, very, very beautiful.
Those melodies could be coming off bell towers, and the tone of everything is just so lovely. It's like a conversation without words, but in a language that says so much more than words.
As I said, I lack much of the musical vocabulary and training, I'm simply observing and trying to think it through. Here are two ideas I find interesting, from Wikipedia:
is the repetition of a melody
in a polyphonic
texture shortly after its first appearance in a different voice
. The melody may vary through transposition
, or otherwise, but retain its original character. The intervals
of an imitation may be exact or modified; imitation occurs at varying distances relative to the first occurrence, and phrases
may begin with voices in imitation before they freely go their own ways.
Imitation helps provide unity to a composition
and is used in forms such as the fugue
The hyperlinks are live and the rest of that article is here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imitation_(music
is the relationship between voices
that are harmonically
) yet independent in rhythm
It has been most commonly identified in the European classical tradition
, strongly developing during the Renaissance
and in much of the common practice period
, especially in the Baroque
. The term originates from the Latin punctus contra punctum
meaning "point against point".
Warning: The rest of this linked page is pretty mind-blowing and requires a lot of digestion. Now I know why people study music as a three-year degree!
Anyway, those two ideas relate to what I've been trying to articulate, and what I've been feeling and noticing.
Because I kind of stopped listening to the radio from about 1988 onwards, I missed Disintegration
and the things that followed it. If I'd heard the above song on Especially For Headphones
two years before that, I would have been blown away even back then. I managed not to miss Lullaby
and that actually did blow me away, but I didn't have money for CDs at that point as an impoverished university student.
And so, with just the mid-1980s exposure to serious radio, I somehow completely missed the fact that The Cure were a very very serious band, as is so easy to do if all you're hearing is Love Cats
and Friday I'm In Love
, which don't hint at the depths of these people, although Love Cats
did show an acute talent for humour and absurdity.
I was mostly away on a (non-twee) classical and (non-twee) folk excursion from my mid-20s to my mid-30s, when I met Brett.
He never went away from all sorts of music, and was very keen to fill me in on what I had missed, with the aid of a huge and eclectic CD collection and an enormous iTunes library. (Plus all those interesting podcasts with which my brain was kept fed and thinking...)
So I was working outdoors with Brett's iPod, making compost or something, back in 2012, when I came across Bloodflowers
, and listened all the way through, and then just put it on repeat. At the end of the day, Brett was saying, "So what was it today?" And I said, "Bloodflowers
It's incredible!" And Mr Husband Cultural Curator said matter-of-factly, "Oh yes, it is! It's a wonderful album. And have you heard..." ...and so began my journey back into contemporary (alternative) music, not just realising that The Cure weren't just Love Cats
and Let's Go To Bed
, but getting all the things that I'd missed because I was so turned off by grunge in the 1990s.
Brett says, "Well, the 80s was worse!" and I say, "No, it wasn't! Yes, mainstream 80s music was melting plastic and disgusting, like that imitation sliced plastic cheese. But grunge, that was 1) unoriginal - wall of sound had already been done by The Doors etc, and 2) mildewed, just like those unhygienic grunge artists themselves who looked like they never bathed for the whole decade
But he is right that very good alternative music was also there in the 1990s, if you knew where to look. And his Cure story is that he went to see the film The Crow
and was blown away by the song Burn
, and that's when he started buying CDs from these guys. The guitars coming in at around 2:50 are extraordinary... as is the complex percussion...
The Cure, Haruki Murakami (a Japanese novelist), Neil Gaiman, noir movies, so much else... just so much was culturally added to my life through marrying this particular person. And those were just fringe benefits!