Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Oh, Little Town of Four Flats

I agreed to play a couple of pieces on the cello at a friend's Christmas church service: "Gesu Bambino," in which a male vocalist sings the solo and the organ and I play accompaniment, and "O, Little Town of Bethlehem," in which I play solo cello with the organ.

"Gesu Bambino" looks fine, though I will have to transpose the treble clef to bass clef. I can read treble clef, but not reliably in stressful situations like a performance.

"O, Little Town" is in four flats. My first reaction, was, oh no, I can't do this, especially as a solo. I'll transpose it to E minor, an easier key for me. But, then I decided to give it a try. It is more challenging in F minor (4 flats) than it is in E minor (one sharp), but it is not impossible. It will give me practice with lots of different positions, and it is a nice slow, passionate tune that I can sing along with when I practice it. According to Wikipedia, F minor is "a key often associated with passion," so I'd hate to change the key arbitrarily, even though every other version of "Little Town" that I have found is in one flat. I have a little over a month, surely enough time, even for me. It is, after all, a short, repetitious piece, and this particular arrangement with the organ looks good.

I will let you know how it goes. :-)


Gottagopractice said...

After a prolonged acquaintance with a Vaughn Williams piece in orchestra, I discovered that Ab (the other 4 flat key) is easier than I expected, and it's been my friend ever since. I think the reason is that the fingering in 1/2 position is the same on C,G,D, second position is low on all 4 strings, and the fingering in 2nd position is the same on G,D,A. So most of the time you move back and forth between those two positions. You'll have to deal with those occasional D and E naturals, but I'll bet you'll find the same.

And f minor is such a soul-filling dolorous key. One of my cats goes nuts whenever I practice something in that key.

Maricello said...

Thanks G, that is just the kind of encouragement I needed to hear.

melissa said...

I'm the same with treble clef, although I'll usually just write the notes over it instead of transcribing. I'm lazy. :)

BTW...You've been TAGGED!

Maricello said...

Hi Melissa, That's a good idea. I've been practicing it from the treble clef without problems--if I just get in the zone of treble clef I'm okay. It's fine in the key of G, but there is a brief (8 measure) dalliance with the key of b flat.

O Little Town is coming along fine. I've even got it memorized now. :-)

Thanks for the tag. I already did 7 things, so will take the 5 this time!