La Follia – revisit

On September 18, we rehearsed Vivaldi’s Trio Sonata in D-minor RV63 “La Folia” using a rearranged Bb (g minor) score for recorder, violin and cello. “La Folia” is one of the old European musical themes. There are 2 versions, the “later Folia” has a standard chord progression (i-V-i-VII / III-VII-[i or VI]-V / i-V-i-VII / III-VII-[i or VI7]-V[4-3sus]-i) and composers over many generations used it to compose the variations (see video on the right).

“La Folia” composed by Arcangelo Corelli, influenced on the development of violin playing. Shinichi Suzuki arranged, rewrote it and published in “Suzuki Violin School Vol.6” for young violinists. I learned this piece when I was in middle school. I performed it with the accompaniment by pianist Eko Ishida in a Church Christmas Celebration.    

Chamber Artists Orchestra (CHAARTS) performed Corelli’s “La Folia” on 416 Hz pitch modern instruments, and baroque bows. 

I stayed at University dorm during one summer in my college years. When I practiced violin in the nearby classes building, Ms. Lin approached me and we talked. She is 3 years senior than me and played violin, too. Later, we became friends and played duet. Before she went to study in France, she gave me her “La Folia” score that has her practicing notes. We lost contacts afterward. Recently, I found this video — “Henryk Szeryng plays Corelli’s La Folia” which is exactly the same score as that Ms. Lin gave to me (except the 7 rest measures in the last Adagio section). A beautiful memory….  

From Wikipedia “Folia” (Historical significance): Jean-Baptiste Lully, along with Philidor l’aîné[1] in 1672, Arcangelo Corelli in 1700, Marin Marais in 1701, Alessandro Scarlatti in 1710, Antonio Vivaldi in his Opus 1 No. 12 of 1705, Francesco Geminiani in his Concerto Grosso No. 12 (which was, in fact, part of a collection of direct transcriptions of Corelli’s violin sonatas), George Frideric Handel in the Sarabande of his Keyboard Suite in D minor HWV 437 of 1727, and Johann Sebastian Bach in his Peasants’ Cantata of 1742 are considered to highlight this “later” folia repeating theme in a brilliant way. 

Video on the right is a performance of rearranged Marin Marais’  “Folies d’Espagne” by Les Délices, an early music ensemble.    

Fall 2020 — Sept. through Dec.

Rehearsal :  September 23

Mozart K-254 3rd Movement — Rondeau: Tempo di menuetto.  

The use of hemiola (duple within triple meter) is seen in the first movement.  The violin introduced the lyrical opening theme in the second movement. The piano and violin take turns to play the melody lines. The serene and beautiful second movement acts as a bridge from 1st movement to the 3rd movement. In this final movement, the piano again takes the leading role with solo passages. The themes here are vibrant and the mood shifts to a more dynamic dialogue.

Bach, J. S. – Trio sonata in G major BWV 1038  The violin part of 1038 has to be performed ‘scordatura’, or with some strings tuned differently. The advantage of this tuning is not obvious in this piece. However, the different tuning does affect the sound, as violinist Shunske Sato explains in the interview

We played with a rearranged score for recorder, violin and cello in Bb major that changed from G major originally .

The 3rd song we played is Henry Purcell’s “Golden Sonata” On the right is a video recording of the performance by the Early Music ensemble Voices of Music

The first movement features constant interplay between the treble and bass voices. It is followed by an Adagio full of plangency, sighings, and chromaticism. The F major Allegro (Canzona) that follows is very fugal. Its theme is that of a trumpet fanfare in character. Sometimes he pairs the upper two voices together, and at times they dialogue in a rather joyous contrapuntal texture. The Grave again is in minor, very slow, and very somber. The final Allegro brings us back to the dance. Its in triple time and filled with running sixteenth note passages and rhythmic interplay. [by Rita Laurance]

We played with a rearranged score for recorder, violin and cello in G major that changed from F major in origin.

Fall 2020 — Sept. through Dec.

Rehearsal :  September 18

We resumed Friday regular rehearsal on 9/18/2020 after months of pandemic lockdown. Social distancing and mask wearing were maintained. 

Mozart K-254 is the first piano trio he wrote. We practiced 1st mov. (Allegro assai) and 2nd mov. (Adagio). The piano was granted the central role with cello doubles the piano base line and violin added to piano’s melody line. The video on the right is an animated graphical scores that was generated by musanim. It reflects the beautiful and serene of 2nd mov.

Antonio Vivaldi’s  Trio Sonata in D Minor RV63 “La Folia” is a famous piece of the Baroque era. The video on the left has 2 violins, cello, harpsichord and theorbo/guitar performed by Croatian Baroque Ensemble. We practiced this piece using a rearranged score for  violin,  recorder and cello in G Minor.  

The 3rd song we played on 9/18 is XII sonatas in three Parts, Op.2 in D Major (London c.1725) by Jean-Baptiste Loeillet of London. The score is rearranged for recorder/violin/cello in F major. 

On the right is a video recording of the performance by Baroque Ensemble SANS SOUCI in one of the most splendid Italian monumental frames, or in the abbey of Follina (Treviso).

Abbazia di Follina History

Built on a previous Benedictine structure of the twelfth century, the current basilica presents the typical Latin plan with the facade facing west and the apse to the east, just as provided for the Cistercian symbolism. With the arrival of the Cistercians, the monastery reaches its peak of splendor and power, above all thanks to the relationship with the Da Camino family.

 

Set Up Jamulus for Remote Music Making

….. This post is the continuation of previous post “We Tried to Rehearse During the Pandemic”.

Set Up a Jamulus Server On AWS

After acquired the necessary equipment, including: (1) an Ethernet cable and a USB adapter, (2) an Audio interface, (3) a Headphone, and (4) a Microphone, I connected them to a laptop PC which the Jamulus software was installed. The Jamulus server was installed in another laptop PC. Both laptops are operated with Windows 10 system. 

I tried to setup a “Private” server but found out that my ISP does not allow the installation of residential server (even a software type). Therefore, I seek the helps from Jamulus Forum, the experts advised me to use Cloud services. I found out that Amazon Web Services has established a new local zone near Los Angeles:  us-west-2-lax-1a and I registered an account for EC2. Connecting with this local zone provided my system with 11-15 ms ping time and around 40 ms overall delay time. 

My friend, Johnny has a String Quintet near San Francisco. He joined me in exploring the remote music making effort across ~400 miles. He set up a Jamulus system in his Mac and connected with my system and the server in AWS. The test results were very satisfactory. We played violin/cello duet by Breval in great joy; the sounds were clear with occasional clicks and pop noises. In addition, we were able to talk over the microphone during the practices.     

Record Jamulus Audio

Jamulus provides recording of Jamulus sessions (audio) on their Central Servers (not at home computers).  Recording on Jamulus is through the use of DAW (digital audio workstation), either Reaper or Audacity. At the end of the session, the recorded Reaper file (.rpp) or Audacity file (.lof) is sent to the PC in which the Jamulus Server is installed. These audio files can be played back for studies or shared with friends.   

I set up Jamulus (client) and Jamulus public server on the same PC which has Reaper software installed. When connected to the Central Server, the ping time is 1-2 ms, and overall delay is around 28 ms with buffer delay set at 5.33 ms (128). The recorded Reaper file (.rpp) sound track showed clear sounds with slight glitchy noises. 

Live Streaming a Jamulus Session

Jamulus experts provided several ways to live streaming  Jamulus Sessions. Here is one by Philip Mountfield: “A tutorial on using Jamulus with Reaper, ReaRoute, Zoom, OBS and Facebook Live that I used for my Windows 10 Jamulus system. 

Jamulus is an open source software, and many user groups share their experience with the public. On the right side is an “open rehearsal” video from Storband. It is a fantastic resource for learning how to Jam in real time. 

  • Zoom (video only, sound muted) was used with Jamulus (audio). Reaper was used to route the audio interface/jamulus to OBS and with Zoom to OBS, live stream to Facebook and YouTube. 
  • Q&A section 41:30; and the YouTube screen shot from the beginning showed it is a Zoom screen.
  • They took time to check the sound level of each member in the beginning of the rehearsal.
  • We can see the details of their setups, the headphones, the microphones and Ethernet cables, etc.
  • There are screens between the singers and their microphones. The screen is to filter the “puff” sounds from the singer.  
  • No “conductor”, but “show host”, “Zoom host”, etc. Also they signaled hand gestures during the rehearsal.  
  • It is amazing how they coordinate the tempo. The coordinator used metronome with beat-counting voices at the beginning.
  • Quote from one member “No experts when started using Jamulus, learned from trials and errors.” 
  • They had recorded ~ 90 things that could go wrong and also, how they solved the problems. .

We Tried to Rehearse During the Pandemic

Because of traveling, our Trio halted regular rehearsals since December 2019 but continue planning the repertoires. On February 28, we gathered and played Mendelssohn’s piano trio #1, 2nd mov. etc. Soon after, the rehearsals were interrupted again due to traveling, and we planned to restart in late April. Then, the Pandemic came suddenly, and we were unable to gather for rehearsals. To continue the rehearsals, we selected Mendelssohn’s piano trio #1, 1st mov. to practice at home.

Surprisingly, in late May, I received an Acapella video from Joyce and she requested my collaboration to add my violin practice and pass on to Marie. This started our rehearsals at home using Acapella. We broke the whole movement in several sections, each with a playing time around 3 minutes. After watching the videos, we shared our interpretations on the music and how we can improve our playing. It is a new experience for me to record my practice and hear my own recorded video.

Acapella is a program for up to 9 musicians to record their audio and video tracks, and sync them sequentially to create one unique track. Musicians cannot play in the same time using Acapella, unlike real-time jamming software applications such as Jamulus and JamKazam. Real-time jamming provides technologies to keep the latency low enough so that the musicians plays at home separately but feel like they play together in the same room.

Real time Jamming: JamKazam 

I started to evaluate Jankazam for on-line jamming after reading an article from ACMP and watched a video of string quartet playing. I bought a USB microphone, a head phone and an Ethernet cable to USB port adaptor to my laptop for the evaluation. After setup the equipment, I tried many solo sessions and were unable to record the sound though I can hear my playing in my head phone. It seems that the server was overwhelmed. I joined and searched Jamkazam Forum to seek solutions without success. Then I found many articles and videos on using Jamulus for on-line jamming. 

Real time Jamming: Jamulus

This video “Online rehearsals with Jamulus” attracted my attention and motivated me to find more about Jamulus.

*** Jamulus is for playing, rehearsing, or just jamming with your friends, your band or just anyone you find online. Use your Windows, macOS or Linux machine to connect to Jamulus servers worldwide, for free over a normal broadband connection. Or host your own private server. Jamulus is designed for high quality, low-latency sound, making it easy to play together remotely and in time. Have a look at how people do it!

Jamulus is an open source software for audio recordings only and is well documented. This article “Getting Started” gives an overview of Jamulus and outlines on the “How to Guides” for the musicians to set up hardware, and connect with the servers. Followed the Guides, I set up the hardware, software and connected with the central server. I found many client servers on the screen and tried to find other musicians on the genre of “Classical/Folk/Choir”. The nearest places are San Franciso and Red Wood City, hundred miles away!

I was disappointment that I could not find musicians near me. Then, I found YouTube videos showing after the Pendamic, how Concordia Quartet began to use built-in PC microphones/ speakers and Wi-Fi network to play quartet from their homes, and later improved their sounds with audio interface and high speed wired Ethernet. Finally, they presented an on-line concert from their homes to share with the audience. Their “Working from Home VLOG” showed the process of their work in details which provides a guide for other music groups in on-line remote jamming.

References:

Study on Franz Schubert Piano Trio Op.100, 2nd movement

“The last Piano Trio in E-flat major, Op. 100, D.929, is a gigantic masterpiece that, with Beethoven’s Archduke, could be considered among the few greatest piano trios in the traditional repertory. It is gigantic in length and breadth, wealthy in thematic ideas, constant transformations and ingenious details of construction.”

[https://www.earsense.org/chamber-music/Franz-Schubert-Piano-Trio-No-2-in-E-flat-major-Op-100-D-929/]

I decided to use Schubert’s Trio in E Flat, Opus 100, written in 1828. It’s a magnificent piece of music and it has just the right restrained balance between the tragic and the romantic without getting into the headier stuff of later Romanticism”.  

(Kubrick on Barry Lyndon: An interview with Michel Ciment)

Kubrick used the 2nd mvt of the trio in his movie, which is, in my opinion, is one of the most desolate slow movements of the last 200 years.  The last scene of the movie is but another example of how brilliantly Kubrick used classical music to capture interior emotions, for if you know the plot of Barry Lyndon, and understand what is happening in the very last scene, its bleakness is made even more devastating by the heroic restraint of the characters and the inconsolable inevitability of the soundtrack.

[http://www.garthnewel.org/on-schuberts-piano-trio-in-e-flat-d929/]

The second movement is a haunting procession, marching along with the air of a funeral. The famous melody heard in the opening, first sung by the cello and then by the piano contains the ‘germ’ of musical material used later and throughout the whole movement:

http://bpt3.org/learn/2012/10/10/schuberts-piano-trio-no-2-in-e-flat-major-1827.html

Study on Clara Schumann Piano Trio Op. 17

I once believed that I possessed creative talent, but I have given up this idea; a woman must not desire to compose—there has never yet been one able to do it. Should I expect to be the one?” – Clara Schumann, 1839

https://www.earsense.org/chamber-music/Clara-Wieck-Schumann-Piano-Trio-in-g-minor-Op-17/

LSO Animateur Rachel Leach and LSO musicians analyse and perform the first movement of Clara Schumann’s Piano Trio in G minor, Op. 17 – one of the set works on the new Edexcel A & AS Level syllabus.

The G minor Piano Trio is undoubtedly one of Clara Schumann’s best-known compositions, and a fine example
of Romantic chamber music.

https://www.rhinegold.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/MT0618-scheme-KS5-AoS2-Clara-Schumann.pdf

Edexcel A Level Set Works: Instrumental Music: C. Schumann, Piano Trio in G minor, Op.17 Movement 1

https://prezi.com/g25g9fefms-j/edexcel-a-level-set-works-instrumental-music-c-schumann-piano-trio-in-g-minor-op17-movement-1/

Care of Violins

 
 
 
 

Note:

Recently, my old German violin had the back board detached. My friend, Johnny offered to help glue the board back. This post is a copy of my earlier post published many years ago at my web site “Taiwan Missions“, in which, it described how Johnny repaired this German violin.

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Violins are delicate instruments that need good maintenance and repairs from skillful luthiers. In my childhood, my father bought a violin that was stored in a warehouse for decades. The body was separated due to the high humidity and it was without strings, bridge and the pegs.

The label shows it maybe an antique violin (see the figure on the left). My father had the violin repaired by my violin teacher’s friend. My teacher played it in his symphony orchestra. The conductor joked that the violin sounded like the voice of a “rickshaw” man…….

…..It sounded so loud and coarse that made the ladies (the other violins in the orchestra) to run away!

This “antique” violin accompanied me to the States. I played it with Mrs. Foster, the Graduate School Dean’s wife and a violinist in Toledo Symphony Orchestra. She had my violin repaired by her friend in the orchestra. It sounded better than before the repair but it was still sounded rough.

Recently, Esther in our chamber group introduced me to Mr. Chiou, an engineer, as well as an amateur violinist and violin luthiers who was travelling from Northern California. He looked and played the violin. He told us this is a good violin but needs some adjustments.

He did not bring his tools with him and with the tools on the spot, he cut and lowered the joint piece connecting the Fingerboard and the “Peg box”. Then he removed the Tuners on the A, D and G strings. He shortened the wire to bring the Tailpiece closer to the End Button. He moved the Chin Rest closer to the edge of the Top (Belly).

And surprisingly, he asked for rice grains. He poured the rice grains through the f-hole and shake the violin in all directions. Then, he poured the rice grains out. The grains were coated with dusts. He told us this is the best way to remove the dusts inside the violin. The dusts interfere with the resonance of the violin.

After all these works, the violin sounded almost like a different one. The sound is warm, delicate and sweet, a total transformation from the coarse voice before. Mr. Chiou told me that he will work on the Bridge and other adjustment when he comes next time. We, the guests in the room were so amazed of Mr. Chiou’s skills and his generosity. Finally he told me to replace the strings with Pirastro Evah Pirazzi strings. 

I bought the Pirazzi strings and put them on my other violin, labelled “Joh. Bapt. Schweitzer, Hieronym Amati Pestini 1813” that I bought from Robert Cauer, a violin maker and dealer in Los Angeles. The strings sound more brilliant and bright than the “Zyex” or “Dominant” strings I had before. Peter, my violin friend told me that after using Pirazzi strings, he never came back to use others. I feel the same way so I am buying another set of Pirazzi strings for my “antique” violin.

I have learned that care of violins is not an easy task and it requires knowledge as well as good professional advice and helps.

References:

  1. Violin Owner’s Manual, content by James N. McKean, String Letter Publishing, Hal.Leonard, 2001
  2. Violin Repair Guide, Michael Atria, Hal.Leonard, 2004

“La Folia” ; Baroque Music and Dance

The first time I played Corelli’s “La Folia” was in my high school year, using the score of Suzuki violin school vol. 6 edited by S. Suzuki. Recently, I watched PBS “Now Hear This”, the second Episode — “The Riddle of Bach”, in which it showed the close relationship of dancing and music in Baroque era and it inspired me to search more about it.

I had studied the late Professor Paul Robertson’s “Bach Project” years ago, which used a combination of solo violin, eurythmy, baroque dance and voice to explore the inner world that lies behind the enduring appeal and challenge of some of J. S. Bach’s greatest music.

Above is a video I found from “Voices of Music” shows the performing of Vivaldi’s variations on “La Folia” (RV 63) with a baroque dance choreographed by Robin Gilbert and Carlos Fittante.

Corelli’s “La Folia” is the 12th violin Sonata in D minor, Op.5 which is accompanied by Basso Continuo (which can be played by piano and cello).


Folia – Baroque Violin, Viola da Gamba & Harpsichord

Folia – Variations by Arcangelo Corelli, Alessandro Scarlatti and Marin Marais

(Added: 10/30/2019)