JAVS Fall 2023

Excerpt #3

Analysis of Excerpt #2 This devilish excerpt from the beginning through letter D of the Scherzo movement of Felix Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream requires violists to go from a fast, dry spiccato to a crisp sautillé very quickly. This is achieved through using a spiccato stroke for the eighth notes and sautillé for the sixteenth notes. The double downs (or retakes) notated in the part aid this transition by allowing a player to make the first down bow a V-shaped spiccato stroke followed by a series of small, O-shaped sautillé strokes for the sixteenth notes initiated through the second down bow, or retake. It is important to move the bow away from the bridge to maintain the soft dynamic while keeping the intended articulation in place. Personally, it helps for me to think of doing these strokes on top of the string, meaning with little to no pressure, to properly convey the character of the music. The next viola audition excerpt from Mozart’s Symphony No. 35 illustrates the crossover from spiccato to sautillé as dictated by a change in note division, rather than a change in the tempo itself.

Analysis of Excerpt #3 In this excerpt (that runs from the beginning through letter B), the player must switch from small, quick V-shaped wrist motions (that are very close to the string) over to small, circular O-shaped wrist motions, while placing the hair on the string which allows the stick of the bow to bounce. This transition happens in m. 28. At that point, imagine our “dribbler” is bouncing the ball one-handed from a standing posture down to a crouched posture without losing control of the ball. This is done through wrist control. The wrist must pronate and supinate less as the ball (bow) is bounced closer to the ground (string). When the wrist becomes neutral (or the bow is placed on the string) the circular motion of the base knuckles on the dribbler’s hand keeps the ball bouncing close to the ground. This transition is where the V-shaped motions of the wrist transfer into the base knuckles of the bow hand when the bow is placed on the string and the wrist becomes neutral.

Journal of the American Viola Society / Vol. 39, No. 2, Fall 2023


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