The great thing about working locally is that you can lash the viol over your shoulder and pop up on your bike! Unfortunately it’s wet out there…Today we dedicated our session to continuo nuancing. It’s a treat to be given the time to work on the rhythm section which this residency affords us. We tried out various voicings and harmonies, and 2 different guitars on many tunes, and decided on the smaller (classic) baroque guitar for Geminiani and Boccherini as well as for the Dublin Bay ballad. This latter has acquired a dual-metre 6/8 – 3/4 rhythm, which feels very south American (like the 17th-century guitar itself) and utterly removes it from the Victorian parlour.
“Life on Mars” features the theorboed guitar, making great use of the long bass strings for punctuation as well as resonance. “Light and Depth” too. This piece is built on 2 very contrasting elements, but expanded to 4 sections which we are still playing with to come to a satisfactory balance of material. It’s normal 17th-century practice for the performer to take simple material and expand it either spontaneously or in a predetermined fashion; we will do a bit of both.
Bach is now working well, with both guitar and viol being allowed to ring without damping, but with a pulsating strong-weak quaver pulse so that the feel is more in 4 (with movement) than in 8 (very static). The original orchestral forces can successfully carry a slower tempo due to their weight. In Pandolfi’s “la Cesta” we are on 17th-century home turf.
For the record, the board room at the Lexicon has nice hard walls and provides a reasonable acoustic to rehearse in despite the carpet…
- Malachy 20/2/16