EVOCATION I – Happy Birthday, Ed, Now Pull Out Your Viola!

Ed and Danny in VT

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.

E1 aEvocation 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.

E1 b

The original handwritten Evocation I

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)

Beginning and Main Theme

Beginning and Main Theme

0.54 - introduction of 2nd Theme

0:54 – introduction of 2nd Theme

1.50 - building to the climax

1:50 – building to the climax (those piano arpeggios are a bear!  Sight readers beware!  I curse myself every time I try to get through them properly.)

3:43 - These double stops proved particularly bedeviling for Ed, which would lead to Evocation II (to be continued...)

3:43 – These double stops proved particularly bedeviling for Ed.  Which would lead to Evocation II being heavily devoted to mastering double stops (stay tuned…)

3:58 -  The second of the three piano glissandi should really be played from high to low, but the computer program doesn't recognize that notated direction.

3:58 – The first and third of the three piano glissandi should really be played from high to low (rather than the customary low to high), but the computer program doesn’t recognize that notated direction.

About dannyashkenasi

I'm a composer with over 40 years experience creating music theater. I'm also an actor, writer, director, producer, teacher and general enthusiast for the arts.
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2 Responses to EVOCATION I – Happy Birthday, Ed, Now Pull Out Your Viola!

  1. howlevmuso says:

    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.

    Liked by 1 person

    • 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….


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