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citymouse
05-10-2007, 04:39 PM
Hello everyone, I need an opinion from somebody who knows something about orchestral music, especially violin. I'm a pianist (of sorts, and not very good - lol) but I've never played in an orchestra and I've never played a violin. In my WIP I'm trying to describe a concerto based on the Prometheus legend. I have a book on violin playing, but that's not the same as actually knowing how to play one. I need someone who could look at the section below and see if it makes sense, music-wise. It's intentionally emotional, but if it crosses the line into purple I want to know. Describing a non-existent musical work has proven harder than I thought! It has to be emotionally involving because the concerto is the crux of the end of the book. Anyway, anyone who will be so kind, will have my undying gratitude.

C
=======================

The baton swept up and down. The music began with the lilting love theme, laughter made into tone…

…Prometheus and his beloved, fragile human children played in the warm Aegean sun. Clouds darkened, the wind howled, Night, black and forbidding, fell and Man became faint and afraid. Prometheus went to Zeus and begged fire. Angered, Zeus tore the heavens apart with his thunderbolts. Prometheus could not bear to see his children so terrified in the darkness. Stealthily he crept to the sacred flame and stole just a small part of it. He gave it to Man and Man was warm and unafraid…
The violin played more and more frantically and the orchestra crashed and moaned behind it as the gods descended in their wrath upon brave Prometheus and dragged him to the mountaintop.
Dylan’s left hand grabbed the off?beat accents as if to physically drag them from the trumpets. His right arm made horizontal arcing motions as if bowing an enormous contrabass. Abruptly the orchestra fell silent.
The violin cadenza, Prometheus’ agonized and triumphant cry of defiance, wound higher and higher in its tortured frenzy, until it was joined by the oboe in fourths and finally broke in the agonized scream of Prometheus as the eagle descended upon him. The oboe dropped out. Four more high, shrill fourths broke from the violin. There was a final scream, a shrieking double-stop. The scream hung there for the space of a heartbeat.
The violin caught with a sob and, accompanied by the muted orchestra, broke into the love theme once more as the heart of the great, tortured Prometheus beat with the knowledge that his sacrifice had been worth it, for Man lived and had fire.

There was utter silence in the grand hall as Dylan laid down his baton and Geoffrey lowered the Stradivarius. They hated it, Dylan thought numbly. It was all for naught.


End of excerpt

Summonere
05-10-2007, 07:00 PM
I'll probably be no help whatsoever, my fiddle-sawing days far, far behind me now. However, inexperience and ignorance have never stopped me before...

Why not toss in a term or two? Not that you should jargon-up the writing, but merely add a modicum of accurate wordage to your description. For instance, I have a sense of the sound, but no picture, really, of how it is produced, nor even a sense that the passage is described in terms that would be familiar to a violinist. And how does your fiddler hold his fiddle? How's he chin that sucker? Pinch it possessively between chin and shoulder? Delicately? Maybe like he's trying to crush it? Or like it's a live thing he has to keep from escaping? Does he play like a stone cold statue, only his arm moving, those fingers pressing up and down the neck like an acupressurist feeling for pulses, nerves, the chi of infinitely expendable energies? Is his whole body a moving musical note? Does he hop, skip, jump, and kick his heels? Employ any vibrato? Pizzicato? Play with a light hand? Heavy one? And how about instead of playing a Stradivarius (Latin form of the famed maker's name, by the way), your guy plays an Amati? Sure, Amati isn't instantly recognizable in the way Stradivari is, but Stradivari learned at the knee of Nicolò Amati, which may or may not be of any interest...

Anyway, here's a term: spiccato. It means "playing of notes by bouncing the bow; performed with short, abrupt, rebounding motions of the bow." Here's another: saltando – bouncing the bow as in a staccato arpeggio, literally "jumping."

Each produces a distinctive sound. I imagine the violin being played with fury (furioso), something more than vivace, something more than con brio, even more than agitato, bellicoso, and more like barbaroso [terms here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Musical_terminology ], as if Prometheus attacks the strings with his bow, beating sound out of the violin. Then there's that pizzicato, or plucking of the strings, and maybe Prometheus employs that, too, for yet another distinctive kind of sound. It seems one trick may be to employ a particular term, then cleverly explain what it means by showing it in action in such a way we get not merely the visual rendering of the scene, but also a sense of the music it produces. You sort of have one, but not quite the other.

My 59-cents. (Inflation.)

Elektra
05-10-2007, 07:41 PM
Caveat: I'm a horn player, not a violinist, but I do know a enough about it... (by the way, if you get a chance, read THE SANDY BOTTOM ORCHESTRA. YA about a girl violinist)

C
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The baton swept up and down. The music began with the lilting love theme, laughter made into tone… Tiny nitpick, but if the music is lilting, the conductor won't "sweep" to begin. It'll likely be an tiny arched sort of flick.

…Prometheus and his beloved, fragile human children played in the warm Aegean sun. Clouds darkened, the wind howled, Night, black and forbidding, fell and Man became faint and afraid. Prometheus went to Zeus and begged fire. Angered, Zeus tore the heavens apart with his thunderbolts. Prometheus could not bear to see his children so terrified in the darkness. Stealthily he crept to the sacred flame and stole just a small part of it. He gave it to Man and Man was warm and unafraid…

The violin played more and more frantically I'd like to see the bowing here--a way to show instead of tell. Maybe half the violinists (violinists share stands, and the ones on the right--the lower chairs--have to turn the page) have to quickly scramble with a page turn. Also, are all the violins playing? and the orchestra crashed and moaned behind it as the gods descended in their wrath upon brave Prometheus and dragged him to the mountaintop. Another tiny nitpick, but, when you have the Olympians in all their fury, you're not calling on the violins. That's the brasses' job.

Dylan’s left hand grabbed the off?beat accents as if to physically drag them from the trumpets. This one just left me with a 'huh?' I get what you're saying, but it took me a minute. His right arm made horizontal arcing motions as if bowing an enormous contrabass. Again, not sure what you're saying. It would be unlikely to see this sort of conducting (though I've had conductors do some pretty weird things, so it's not too implausible), especially in the piece you're decribing. Abruptly the orchestra fell silent. This one again left me with a 'huh?' because the conductor, in my mind, is still conducting furiously. He needs to cut them off somehow.

The violin cadenza, Prometheus’ agonized and triumphant cry of defiance, wound higher and higher in its tortured frenzy, until it was joined by the oboe in fourths parellel fourths are a big no-no and finally broke in the agonized scream of Prometheus as the eagle descended upon him. The oboe dropped out. Four more high, shrill fourths broke from the violin. There was a final scream, a shrieking double-stop. ? The scream hung there for the space of a heartbeat.

The violin caught with a sob and, accompanied by the muted orchestra, is the orchestra actually muted? Or are they just playing piano (the dynamic, not the instrument). A muted orchestra would definitely not be the sound you're going for. broke into the love theme once more as the heart of the great, tortured Prometheus beat timpani, maybe? bass? with the knowledge that his sacrifice had been worth it, for Man lived and had fire.

There was utter silence in the grand hall as Dylan laid down his baton and Geoffrey lowered the Stradivarius. They hated it, Dylan thought numbly. It was all for naught.


End of excerpt[/quote]

ETA; This wouldn't be considered a concerto

citymouse
05-12-2007, 03:37 PM
Summonere & Elektra, thanks so much for your comments. You have helped me beyond measure! This book will be the better for your insights.

C

Summonere
05-12-2007, 07:22 PM
Happy to have been of any assistance. Still wish I played, but I'm pretty sure no one else does.

Of course now I see that Dylan is your violinist and not Prometheus. How like me to err...

citymouse
05-12-2007, 09:09 PM
S-- Not to worry I realized that when I read your observations.
Thanks again.
C



Happy to have been of any assistance. Still wish I played, but I'm pretty sure no one else does.

Of course now I see that Dylan is your violinist and not Prometheus. How like me to err...