This morning we began before the library opened and had to sneak in round the back when the guard dog was looking the other way. After taking a moment to wish each other a happy St Brigid’s day, we set off with the Geminiani tunes we had begun to work on last time. Really lovely new textures emerging, as Eamon had brought his freshly-repaired THEORBOED GUITAR.
This guitar is like a normal 5-course baroque guitar except for two things: the “lowest” of the usual 5 courses is actually low rather than re-entrant (up an octave), and there are 7 extra bass strings which are tuned to the 7 notes of a scale and not fingered with the left hand. (This set of bass strings is therefore like a harp, only played as open strings.) The effect of this instrument on our trio was to allow the viol to play more in the tenor register, because the bass register is covered. Very interesting, stimulating new possibilities.
We then spent quite some time arranging the Bach, repeatedly facing the dilemma that on the one hand Bach is revered by all musicians and we are loathe to change anything, but on the other hand if we are to play this Andante, we must alter it to fit our instrumentation. The knowledge that Bach – like all of his contemporaries – was happy to recycle material to fit different functions gives us the courage to persevere. (Of course excessive reverence can lead to stagnant presentations of music – Mozart has suffered more than most in this respect.)
After coffee and really amazing carrot cake in the LexIcon cafe Mmmmmm…
… we rehearsed Pandolfi’s La Cesta, which we had discovered in our 1st session. Having compared 2 sources, we made some choices about options of harmonies and accidentals, and enjoyed the fabulous spirit of this music in the stylus fantasticus.
Boccherini’s Passa Calle was good fun, and called for the strummier, regular guitar. You can’t lash into the theorboed one in the same way. Our 19th-century Dublin Bay ballad is taking good dramatic shape, our arrangement illustrating the story which begins happily but ends in tragedy.
- Malachy 1/2/16