Today is my husband Edward Elder’s birthday. He is the mustachioed fellow in the picture above. One of my birthday gifts for him is a new viola/piano duet. He plays the viola, I play the piano. It has become a tradition in our relationship that I compose a new viola piano duet for him every year for his birthday. I call these pieces “Evocations”. Today Ed will receive Evocation XXII.
Evocation I was composed in 1994, a little over a year after we had started dating. At the time I still wrote my scores by hand with special pencils that were darker than your standard #2 pencil (I liked #5 pencils). By 1998 my then employer for teaching artist work insisted I start writing out scores on the computer, and I learned how to use the Finale ’98 music scoring program. I didn’t upgrade from Finale ‘98 until last year (which gives you an idea of how resistant to technological change I can be before finally making the leap forward… and then probably getting all resistant yet again). I now work with Finale 2014 and decided to write out computer printed versions of the first several handwritten Evocation scores.
One positive feature of the upgrade is the vastly improved sound in the playback function. The string instrument actually sounds much like a real string instrument, not some screechy synthesizer alien. Even on my recently purchased sophisticated keyboard I find the string sounds, especially the solo string sounds, less than desirable (which is why I don’t use them as much as I wish I could on the Speakeasy demo recordings). But the Finale 2014 viola almost convinces me it is the real thing. Now, it is far from perfect, you can probably still tell that it is a machine playing, not a human. There is no such thing as great subtlety or feeling or give and take on timing (the crescendo and diminuendos in the first two and last two measures leave much to be desired, as does the computer’s apparent disregard of the direction “Largo” – ah, well). But I think it is OK enough to share the track with you here. Someday I would like to record these babies with professional musicians in the studio. Someday when I have the resources…
EVOCATION I – (as played by the computer)
You’re going to be up there with Hindemith in amount of writing for viola!
I’m out of practice on FINALE and need to get the newest version myself. But I do know that you have to set playback metronome markings in a different way than printout tempo markings. You can change the metronome markings at any places in the score and can even arrange for ritard/accel between two marks. I’ll bet by now there’s a way to change roll (not glissandi) directions, too, but you’d have to ask a guru about that. I never dealt much with playback niceties, only using that function for proofreading.
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You’re surely right about there being a way for me to better set the tempo. I just hadn’t / haven’t figured it out yet. But I guess I better if I’m going to share these recordings….