12 July 2018

Frustration? Or, what was needed?

The Sisyphean tale of yesterday morning is, that I tried repeatedly to execute nominally simple tasks in Sibelius, the sort of things which should be just a couple of mouse clicks, and done in a quarter of a minute, but...Sibelius would get hung up, or…

There, I’ve started in the middle again.  What I tried to do yesterday, before shipping out to work, was to get a start on adapting Down Along the Canal to Minerva Road for clarinet, violin, cello & accordion.

This is really inexplicable (apart, quite possibly, by PEBCAK), but...as I was reassigning the horn part to the cello, I had Clef Problems.  Here and there, the writing is high enough that the passage should be recast onto tenor clef.

However, I was doing the work, not in the score, but in the part.  Which oughtn’t to be a problem:  if I’m working in the cello part, and I change an F-natural to an E# in the part, that change is reflected in the score, as it’s all a single file (unless one expressly extracts a part-file).

Again, not that it ought to have made any difference...I was working within the part, to change the slurs (a notation which serves different technical functions for a string player, than for a wind player).  While I was at that task in the cello part, I saw, Oh, here I need to change to tenor clef for four measures. So I made those changes, too, in the part.

Then, when I was done, I returned to the score, and failed to understand why I saw no clef changes in the cello line, in the score.

Well, I never figured it out, so there is no light to be shed here, in this blog post, on that annoyance.  For our purposes here, it suffices to illustrate that, between this mysterious failing of the software, and the unusually sluggish, stop-&-go performance of the program yesterday morning, a task which ought to have taken 10 minutes occupied me so that I missed not one, but two buses, and wound up driving instead.

Now, as to the real reason why I retail this story.  Now it can be told:  The viola saved me.

All right, yes, that was hyperbole.

The original scoring is:  flute, alto flute, clarinet, horn.  What I was doing yesterday was 1) transferring the flute part to violin (and modifying the slurs, for the same reason as mentioned above);  2) transferring the alto flute part to the accordion;  3) transferring the horn part to cello.

Now – not that having some cello passages cast in tenor clef ought to be any problem, mind you – overnight, I realized that the solution was to include a viola rather than a cello in the new scoring.  And to have the accordion assume the horn part, and give the alto flute line to the viola.

This apparently trivial shuffling is actually a far superior solution, musically.  There is (in the original piece) a section where the flute and alto flute play in octaves, and that homogeneous octave is now reflected in the passage’s assignment to violin and viola – and there is one isolated note, which is the perfect candidate for being sounded pizzicato, thus rendering the decision all the more natural and idiomatic.  And, there are other passages where the clarinet and horn have duet work, which is now clarinet and accordion, also a highly satisfactory solution.

So maybe the momentary impossibility, yesterday, of managing a cello part, was all a cosmic nudge to find . . . the viola.


Jeffrey Smith said...

Viola voila!

Karl Henning said...

Sometimes, a viola . . . .