I am still chewing on the issue of shaping and articulation of notes on the
Something happened tonight at a rehearsal of the Santa Fe Community
Orchestra, in which I play viola, which I think bears on this issue. We
were working on the Mozart Divertimento for Strings, N. 3, K 138. The
conductor, who is relatively young and experienced, spent about ten minutes
working with the first violins on the beginning of the Andante movement,
which starts out for them with a half note. He kept insisting that they
were already behind his tempo "inside" this half note - that he needed to
"feel the pulse." After a certain amount of jawing, it got better - in fact
it seemed much better to me, although he was still not satisfied. But he
was not able to communicate clearly what it was he wanted. Thinking about
it while driving home, I and my passenger, a member of the first violin
section, decided that what he wanted was for that half note (and all the
notes, in fact) to be "shaped" in such a way that the underlying pulse could
be felt. Fair enough, and do-able in principle on a violin.
But at just that moment, there began to be played on the FM station to which
we were listening in background a slow Bach organ prelude (a familiar one,
but I can't name it). Strangely, we thought (imagined?) that we could feel
just such a "pulse" in this music. This seems pretty mysterious, given that
even with a tracker, the amplitude of a given note is pretty much fixed,
once the initial transient is over. I think the same thing must be true
even on a well played harpsichord.
I think that this mysterious process, whatever it is, is right at the nexus
of what music is all about. Can anybody enlighten me about what is going on
here? In words that I can understand?
In for some tossing and turning and strange pulsing dreams.