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classical music Archives - Fedora Strings Sheet Music for Sale

You Tube Success!

By | fedora strings, fedora strings performance, tour dates | 5 Comments

We were  pleased to find out that last week our performance of Arrival of the Queen of Sheba was chosen to be first on the  Best You Tube Videos of Handel compilation by www.musicsense.org  – especially as there are over 4000 videos of Handel on the internet.

Many thanks to our super film crew, Lux Technical, our recording engineer, Hugh Davies, and to English Heritage for so generously allowing us to make the film at the beautiful Kirby Hall. This wonderful stately home is an inspirational place to visit and the perfect setting for classical music.

Arrival of the Queen of Sheba is one of the pieces most frequently chosen for wedding ceremonies.But who was the Queen of Sheba? In fact the music is part of Handel’s oratorio Solomon which is based on the romantic, not to say sexy,  old testament story in the Book of Kings which  tells how the queen arrives in Jerusalem as a guest of King Solomon and  ends up spending the night with him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course Handel originally wrote the piece for full orchestra, not string duo, but I’m sure he would have been delighted that nearly three hundred years after it was written his music was  still being arranged for  many different combinations of instruments because it was so popular. He’d probably have been impressed that he had such a high profile on the internet too!



 

Can Classical Musicians Improvise?

By | string teaching | 4 Comments

The short answer to this is usually “no”. Classical music involves so much discipline and expense when you are training that technique and interpretation are normally the main areas focused on. However, this can result in a sort of freezing perfectionism, where you feel unable to play anything on your instrument unless you have been practising it for hours every day for the last few weeks.

I was never taught to improvise when I was a student, but having recently returned to classical music professionally after quite a long time I’ve been determined to overcome some of my former insecurities and now I start my practice with improvisation: either just messing around playing to express how I feel, or playing tunes by ear. This increases my general confidence as a performer and also helps when playing big tunes in chamber music (which, naturally,are practised!)

The great thing about improvisation is that it can’t be wrong: and it’s this sense of freedom that is such a welcome balance from the intensity of classical training. I’ve also found that improvisation is a huge help when teaching, especially with beginners. Instead of being overwhelmed by difficulties, kids – and adults – can make the instrument their own, play high, low, do tremolo bowing, spiccato, pizzicato chords, and generally have fun creating music where they are the boss and it’s impossible to make mistakes. So many small children love it if you suggest they improvise on a theme of  “I hate getting up to go to school” or ‘The haunted castle” or “My dog’s just been sick!”  One little boy’s favourite improvisatory idea was to do variations on the theme from Jaws – which of course works excellently on the cello as it’s so low. In my experience improvisation also encourages straightforward enthusiasm and love of playing your instrument and gives pupils the feeling that the teacher is responding to them individually, rather than carrying out a formal instruction session.

Of course all the best interpretations of classical music sound as if the performer has made the music their own, and this is another sense in which regular improvisation can be incredibly beneficial: in improvisation the music really is your own and you alone are its master. JB

 

So, You Think You Can Arrange a Broadway Song?

By | fedora strings performance | 6 Comments

Fedora Strings’  lead violinist- Roger Stimson – speaks…

The musical arrangements you hear on our website are basically mine. But adapting well known songs for string quartet, trio and especially duo is a long way from the lush sounds of a full Hollywood orchestra, containing the best players in the world on one hand, a band of mellifluous clarinets and saxophones on a second hand or a deliciously intimate jazz ensemble, such as Nat King Cole’s, on a third!

Yet when thinking of the magical effects  the Broadway musical had already achieved a voice of sensitivity within me still cried out for fulfilment. I really love this music. How dare four classically-trained musicians slip off the intense training of high powered precision and rules of engagement and simply play these sentimental melodies with respect and from the heart? It’s not really that unlikely as the music can be so sincere.

In the arrangement of ‘Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye’ you will hear strange eerie harmonics at the beginning. This song was written in 1944 and these are the echoes of war, like the haunting drone of an enemy aircraft. Then the scene of two lovers: clearly he is going away to fight and she does not know if he will return – often he did not. The intense moods move between fear, warmth and longing then, at the end we hear the air raid siren which gradually fades into memory, leaving only peace. The opening was a stroke of inspiration by Jo, which she only informed me about just before the recording session. When she played it and we followed with the rest of the music I instinctively added the air raid siren at the end of the song.

http://25.media.tumblr.com/7yFPFC4Vhdzkl36mWy4GgbMYo1_400.jpg

Gershwin enjoys a cigar while composing.

Arranging music is not just a matter of knowing the chords and having an accompaniment strategy. For me it is an adventure into the unknown. Of course, as a Royal Academy of Music trained musician I could use my brain when arranging music – and occasionally, when I am really stuck, I do – but I have to seek out the sounds I hear in my imagination and try to place them on the stave.  At times this can be a long drawn out challenge, at others a quick procedure.  I arranged ‘I Could Have Danced All Night’ for string quartet in an hour and a half: ‘Bess, You Is My Woman Now’ took weeks and was changed over and over again.

Our arrangements are also quite special in that they can be played at weddings by quartet, trio or duo. The part writing is richer than most, but one then has the option of missing out a bar here and there in one or another part or doing repeats differently so that the whole performance becomes a creative experiment. I’ve found that as I gain experience the arrangements have become more individual and confident. I hope you enjoy listening to them as much as I have enjoyed writing them.