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mikenichols

Fast legato arco runs

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I've got a question for the orchestral specialists. If you see a a fast legato run, e.g semiquavers at 180 how do you approach it?

Seems that ascending runs are better with an up bow and vice versa. At that tempo would you attempt to finger every note. Or would you cheat  by changing notes so they fall under the fingers, or gliss on one finger? Seems that at that tempo the notes won't be that distinct anyway and the most important things is to make a strong consistent sound that starts and finsihes on the right pitch.

 

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Ok, I'm certainly not a specialist, but this one would depend on how much time you had to view or study the music in the first instance. I've just had to sight read some music at a similar tempo on the theme for Superman (don't laugh, it sounds good).

What I try and do, and I will get picked up if I don't, is play it as written, just use short bows. Our conductor doesn't miss a thing and if I play legato when not written I will get picked up. If I'm not capable of playing it, I may play legato and tell the conductor it was too fast and I will practise it later!

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Wow, Phil, your conductor knows he has a bass section!  Ours rarely looks in our direction unless a back of the desks 'cellist plays a bum note - upon which the back of the desk 'cellists will look over their shoulders in the hope of passing the blame!  Though when we managed a section of 6 he did say how much he appreciated the solid foundation it gave the orchestra.

Anyway, we (my bass section colleagues and I) reckon a lot of bass parts (especially early 19th century ones) are really cello parts with the basses expected to join in when they can.  Come on now, in the time of Beethoven, many basses had only three, heavy, unresponsive, gut, strings.  Either those guys were brilliant, the music sounded AWFUL or they faked it.  If there are too many notes, just aim for the first of the group.

Played Neilson's 5th a few months back - it has endless sequences of seemingly random chromatic bass notes at a very fast pace, mostly in groups of 6; so we decided to hit the first of each bunch of 6 and then make a rhythmic scrubbing sound for the rest of it.  No-one knew ;¬) tho the conductor was miffed when I told him in the pub afterwards.

Seriously tho, and under ideal circumstances, given sufficiently time; in legato runs, you should work out a fingering and try to play it properly, its often not as difficult as it seems.  I'm learning Tchaikovsky's 6th at the moment, from a part that has been meticulously fingered by a previous user - it's a revelation, some of those fingerings really work well - so I'm going to use them!  Sliding will sound wrong and it's probably better to play no note or a harmonious note than one that "falls under the fingers" and makes a discord.  So play them all properly or pick some key notes and play only those. 

My (very amateur) opinion anyway.  Won't wash in Phil's orchestra I imagine.

Edited by NickA
wrong symphony

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So many players give up before they've even tried. When I was in Youth Orchestras (NYO even) I thought the last movement of Tchaikovsky 4 was almost unplayable. Now? Simple...

Look at the notes, work out your fingering and practice. Practice at a speed at which you can play it, and keep practicing at that speed. Vary the rhythm - dotted semiquavers, triplets, whatever you want - but keep practicing slowly. The key is not to practice it wrong. You should be playing all the notes. There is a reason the composer put them in.....

Last thought - if your conductor REALLY didn't notice the sketching, you need a new conductor! Ours would notice, AND he'd pull us up on it.

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He's right you know.  You can play anything if you really work it out and practice. 

But life is too short to work out and practice all the notes in Neilson's 5th.

BTW provincial amateur orchestras don't get the best conductors; and anyway they have all those Violins (and back desk cellists) to worry about.

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I will accept that I'm very lucky to be in the orchestra I play in, with a first-rate conductor who spends time on details and insists on standards that most amateur orchestras can't match. It's hard work, granted, but Neilson 5 is perfectly doable too., just find the patterns and work on it. This stuff is important to the work. Put some work in.

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