What is summer music? Most people would probably think it’s music that’s calm, rural and relaxing. Delius’s Summer Evening ( below) is exactly that:
But for Vivaldi summer evoked different feelings. His ‘Summer’ in The Four Seasons is an early example of programmatic music. Vivaldi wrote his own sonnets in the score to explain what the music is describing. The first movement’s sonnet reads: ” Langour in the heat” . This is followed by: ” …beneath the blazing sun’s relentless heat men and flocks are sweltering and the cuckoo’s voice can be heard.”
For Gershwin the season was even more complex. His aria Summertime opens his opera Porgy andBess which is set in a black tenement in South Carolina in the 1930s. The themes of the opera are romance struggling against poverty, drug taking and violence. Our violin and cello duet version is below:
…and you can buy our violin and cello duet sheet music arrangement here
This autumn we will be adding some cello and piano sheet music to our online shop. Some of the sheet music is a piano and cello reworking of already existing pieces. These are Scarborough Fair, Christmas Variations and Morning Prelude. There will also be three new cello and piano sheet music compositions.
For more information email us at email@example.com And remember, you can commission us to arrange or compose a piece for you for any combination of strings.
This blog explores how tv themes work. Have you noticed how the best tv themes immediately take you into the world of the programme with no words needed? Ever wondered how they do that? Here’s a very rough outline:
First – Hawaii 5 0. The lively mood, off beat rhythms, energy, contemporary pop style, use of drums and minor key instantly evoke action, seriousness and America.
Compare this with Inspector Morse – a very different, definitely non American, detective:
This tune expresses darkness and sadness – ideally suited to the older, cultured and world weary Inspector Morse! The minor key, repeated rhythms and repeated descending bass line – in chaconne style – create a sense of inevitability. Vitali’s Chaconne ( below) with its famous repeated descending bass line, is in the same world (but was written 300 years earlier.)
Changing the mood completely, the Pride and Prejudice theme projects lightness and happiness with its major key, scale patterns and lively speed. The composer effectively captured the late classical /early romantic style of Jane Austen’s era .
Compare this with the Haydn Piano Concerto and John Field Nocturne below. Both composers were contemporaries of Jane Austen.
What are your film music favourites? In this blog I am going to share some of my favourite film themes. I’m also going to explain how some film themes have influenced our sheet music arrangements.
Film Music Favourites
This is the first fab film theme that springs into my mind, and I love its energy and excitement. If fact, I like this theme so much that I included a quote from the main tune in our arrangement of Long Ago and Far Away ( even though this song is entirely different in mood)
Next, who could fail to be impressed by use of Bach’s Air on a G String in the Hamlet Cigar adverts ? This particular arrangementy is more jazzy than our own, but certainly gets some of the sense of calm across!
The film extract below is by far my favourite version of La Cumparsita – and some of the accordion playing influenced our arrangement.
The theme from Dances with Wolves – with its sense of openness achieved by using the first and fifth degrees of the scale – had some influence on Morning Prelude
While Gabriel’s Oboe from the film The Mission is an excellent example of a beautiful melody:
I recently had an email from a potential customer asking about intermediate level violin and cello duets. She wanted to know which of our sheet music was the most straightforward and easy to play. She was also looking for duets where the cello had the tune quite a lot of the time.
The violin has the tune most of the time in these two. So, if you are looking for a duet which focuses on cello, Morning Prelude starts and ends with a cello solo in natural harmonics. It is always possible to adapt arrangements and leave things out. In fact, almost every time we play a piece we make some change to make the arrangement more effective. It’s an ongoing process.
Please feel free to email or phone us if you have any questions about the level of our arrangements. There are many recordings and videos on our site which we hope will help you assess the standard of the music.
In this blog I wanted to share some videos of inspiring performances in different genres. What they have in common is a passionate and fearless sense of interpretation. The first is by Camille O’Sullivan:
The next is Robert Stephens’ acting, especially notably this most famous speech from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar:
And finally, something classical: Hvorostovsky’s performance of Bizet’s Toreador Song:
Although improvisation in concerts was common in baroque times, it’s more rare today. But – excitingly – Roger and I have three engagements at the beginning of April in London which include some live improvisation.
The reality of improvisation, of course, is that some kind of structure has been worked out in advance – even if it’s only a basic timing, key and mood. So, in our concerts we will be improvising for around three minutes and we have worked out a mood and a rough structure. One of us will hold a single note (D) while the other one improvises calm music. At the end of each group of phrases the roles will reverse.
Improvising on a string instrument is easier than you think. Essentially you need to choose a key, a mood, and a simple structure. For example, if you were playing a duet, you could decide you wanted lively invigorating music. You could choose to put the piece in D major, one player could play a D every two beats, and the other could improvise – mainly in arpeggio and scale patterns. If you wanted to elaborate you could have a middle section in B minor, which was slower and more gentle, and then repeat the opening section. Simlarly, to create a dance or waltz feel, chose a key, three beats in a bar, and short, simple phrases. As with everything, the more you practise, the easier it gets.
What are your creative influences? Are you inspired by paintings, books, architecture, poetry, theatre or dance?
For me the answer is all of the above. And this week I’ve also been watching skating:
It’s hard to imagine a more aligned interpretation of the music than the choreography here. The commitment of the skating has an intensity you can also see in the best classical music performers:
Moving away from live performance I often find paintings or architecture inspiring.
I love the intensity of this famous painting by George Stubbs, which you can see at The National Gallery. And most people would thrill at the Harringworth Viaduct ( below):
You can commission us to arrange one or more of the pieces of music on our online shop for string orchestra. Please email us direct about this, or fill in the form on our commissioning music page.
Why commission more music?
The string orchestral repertoire is wonderful – but it’s not large. Again and again the same pieces are played in concerts. Of course there’s nothing actually wrong with this. But there is so much more that could be played!
What standard is the music?
Many of our string orchestral arrangements are not technically demanding and are alot of fun to play. Our string orchestra arrangements of Chiome D’Oro, Dance to Your Daddy and Over the Hills have all been perfomed by intermediate level students in concerts without a conductor, and are exciting and effective.
We sell a wide range of intermediate and advanced cello duet sheet music at our online shop. The cello’s capacity to sustain a bass line and sing the tune makes it the ideal duet instrument. But there are surprisingly few cello duets of intermediate and advanced standard. So we think there is a gap in the market – and one which we aim to fill!
Our range of intermediate and advanced cello duet sheet music
The music we sell falls into two categories: arrangements and new compositions. But some of our arrangements – such as Lilliburlero and Scarborough Fair – have introductions and middle sections that are completely new music. I think this helps re-create the tune in a fresh way and highlight the overall mood.