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.
Have you ever thought about commissioning music for a wedding or special occasion? If so, you may have wondered about the cost, and about whether you’d end up loving the music you commission. Both of those aspects can be resolved to a large extent by discussion. And there are good reasons for at least pursuing the idea further.
Is commissioning music for a wedding a new idea?
The idea of commissioning music for a special occasion has a long, romantic provenance. Some of the greatest music ever written was composed for a special occasion. Why? Well music lasts forever. It does not age and can be constantly brought to life in vibrant performances and recordings.
How does the process work?
Commissioning music starts by talking to us. We need to know the occasion the music is for and the duration of the piece. It’s also worth thinking about the the overall mood you would like the music to be and its technical standard.
As well as composing music we can create an arrangement of a piece you love – as long as it is out of copyright.
How long does it take?
It’ s impossible to predict exactly how long the process takes as every commission is different. The more notice you give us the better. As a general rule, new arrangements take less time than new compositions. And music you commission can be permanently dedicated to whoever you wish.
About our wedding collections for violin and cello duet sheet music
When selecting our two wedding collections we have focused on some of the best known wedding music. Much of this is ideal for the wedding ceremony itself. But we have also included pieces which would work well for the reception.Good value for money and the popularity of the music have been key considerations. And as always we have used our imagination to ensure our arrangements are effective and characterful.
The pieces in this collection are the most popular and famous wedding pieces. They are: Bridal Chorus, Pachelbel’s Canon, Air on a G String, Flower Duet, Arrival of the Queen of Sheba,Te Deum, Prince of Denmark’s March, My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose, Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man and Brahms Hungarian Dance no 1. Most of these would work well as guests arrive, for the bridal ceremony and for the reception.
The pieces in Collection 2 are especially suitable to be played as guests arrive or at receptions.They are Exsultate Jubilate, Chiome D’Oro, Fairest Isle, Gloria, Boccherini’s Minuet, Coppelia Waltz, Tambourin, Londonderry Air, Jeanie and Lark in the Clear Air. The last three beautiful folk tunes would also be a lovely choice for the signing.
How much playing time is in each album?
Each album contains at least half an hour of playing time in total. If you buy both albums you have a complete repertoire of wedding music for violin and cello duet which can be downloaded as many times as you want for less than £90.
Not just for weddings
Regardless of whether you are playing for weddings, this is wonderful music, ideal for anyone who wants to explore the violin and cello duet repertoire – and excellent value.
Our website specialises in our own original intermediate and advanced violin and cello duets and cello duets. We believe there is a gap in the market in this area of sheet music sales. Promoting string duets – by selling our own sheet music, and by performing and recording – is our aim.
Why intermediate and advanced violin and cello duets?
The music we sell is intermediate or advanced level. We want to maximise the different types of sound string instruments can make and this needs a certain level of ability. However, everything is written to be string instrument friendly. And there are some easier cello duets in our collection.
Our range of intermediate and advanced violin and cello duets
We believe arrangements need to be imaginative to be effective. Character is our starting point. Every piece of sheet music we sell has been created and performed by us, so we know it works. And our website contains many of our recordings so you can preview the music before you buy.
Our arrangements and compositions quite often use effects like tremolo bowing, ricochet, col legno and natural harmonics to bring the music to life. These techniques are not hard and are very good at enhancing the mood of the music.
In addition to arranging music we have also composed some violin and cello duets and cello duets ourselves, which you can find in our New Compositions category. These are also intermediate to advanced in standard.
Happy Christmas to all our customers from around the world! Thank you for your support, which we value very much, and warmest wishes for 2019.Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have enquiries or suggestions. Below is some super Christmas string music:
If you’d like to find some relaxing string music for Christmas, the videos below offer a few suggestions.They are all string orchestra pieces and represent just a tiny fraction of the classical repertoire. Enjoy!