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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000793.txt from 1997/12

From: Jacqueline Eastwood <eastwooj@-----.EDU>
Subj: Re: Music question (not clarinet related)
Date: Tue, 16 Dec 1997 14:59:04 -0500

On Mon, 15 Dec 1997, Mark Charette wrote:

> I've never played in a band or orchestra (other than electric band)
> so I have no experience in the string instruments. Thus, this
> question.
> In Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings", the violins at the top of
> chords sound slightly flat to my ears, giving the chords a
> plaintive sound, even when the minors and minor 7ths (and
> minor 9ths and major 4ths I think) resolve. It's a beautiful
> sound, and is used as an effect all over orchestral music with
> massed strings. Barber's Adagio just holds them for a long time,
> letting you really hear the effect. Listening to the transcription
> for chorus that Barber wrote ("Agnus Dei"), the effect just isn't
> there, even though the chords are the same. I only seem to
> hear this in massed string parts.
> Is that particular sound due to:
> The upper partials on a violin being slightly flat?
> The effect of vibrato averaging lower than the fundamental
> note?
> Something I know nothing about (most probable :^)
> Or is it just me?
> I'm sure this is an easy one for all you "real" players out there!
> --
> Mark Charette, Webmaster -
> Web/Personal -
> Business -
> "There's already an educational TV channel - it's called 'off'."
> Lily Henderson, age 11
Hmmm.....very interesting! My orchestral experience has always been that
the first violins, most prominently the concertmaster, will play slightly
sharp. This is supposedly so they can hear themselves over the tutti of
the full orchestra (especially true for the concertmaster, who perhaps
should be able to hear himself). However, in my opinion, all it does is
serve to drive up the pitch. Tough when you're in a cold pit with cold
horns. Perhaps someone else knows more about this than I do -- in fact,
I'm SURE someone does!

Jacqueline Eastwood
University of Arizona/Arizona Opera Orchestra

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