“As One” – Study Day 2
Now it is ALL about the vocal lines.
Before crashing last night I did manage to dig into the first two “numbers” in the opera– “Paper route” and “Cursive.” It felt great to get going with this phase of study, and gave me at least a sense of what pace I will be able to keep. I found that the pitches and rhythms are not elusive. The pitches come rather easily and even in the first pass through singing the lines I can be fairly confident that I have not lost pitch. Every couple of pages a quick check with the pitch pipe to confirm that I am in tune, and on we go. For the most part I can feel good about each number with two passes through– at least for my purposes at this stage in the game. My goal is a simple one– find out what words and thoughts each character gets to articulate, and find out how they get to articulate it. I am not looking at harmony, and I am most assuredly ignoring MOST of what the accompaniment (in this case the string quartet) is doing! Story and melody!
Today I reviewed the two numbers I looked at late last night (never a bad idea) and then got through about half of the score. It’s funny– I could have kept going further as I had another couple of hours I could have continued, but there is only so much that I find healthy to try to absorb in one day. By the last couple of numbers I tackled today I found my brain more reluctant to really soak up the words and melody. Just glossing over things in order to turn as many pages as possible is NOT useful. It was time to stop and begin fresh tomorrow morning.
No new images of score pages today. The only time I picked up a pencil was to scribble in a couple of chords that I could not resist identifying and that seemed helpful. At this stage of the game I am resisting the urge to write in my score, and am doing all I can to stay in absorbing mode. It would be too easy to start writing in beat patterns– a distraction from the truly important task at hand. It would be too easy to get distracted by harmony and instrumental texture. I am noticing those stretches when there is no viola (hmmm, that means something…) and I am curious to spend time deciphering the different textures Laura weaves in her string writing. But that really needs to wait. Story and melody– the stuff of opera. Yeah, harmony too, but there is time for that in a couple of days. In fact right now I am enjoying discovering a fully as possible the harmonies that each melody seem to IMPLY. Maybe on Saturday I get to find out how much Laura follows these implied harmonies, and how much she contradicts them….
LOTS of half-notes in this score! LOTS! And many tempo indications that are based on quick half-notes. Half=92. Half=72. Half=120. Half=84. Half=108 (and I am only on page 34). Triplets and quintuplets that cross over half of a measure or a full measure. Quintuplets that get thrown back and forth between the two voices. Long stretches where it is just one voice followed by a significant passage of duet singing. And the duet singing is often homophonic and sequences of parallel 3rds and 4ths. This is significant, especially given the subject matter and roles of the mezzo and baritone in the opera. And then all those stretches where there is no viola. These are significant. But I am on a fact-finding mission. The time for analysis is later.
Tomorrow my number 1 priority will be to finish singing through the opera. Then I am not sure. I might move onto looking at string textures– pizzicato and arco and how they play together. Or I may want to sit down at the piano for the first time and start looking at how the harmony of this piece fits together. I trust that once I finish singing through the piece, the next step will make itself obvious.
Now to bed….