Wednesday 1 June 2011

Tune of the Day: The Drunken Piper

 Traditional Scottish pipe march

This Scottish tune is part of the Highland bagpipe repertoire, but has also made its way into Canadian tradition. This is the tune to which one of the most popular Scottish country dances of all time, the “Reel of the 51st Highland Division”, is commonly danced. The dance was written by Lieutenant J.E.M. ‘Jimmy’ Atkinson of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders while in a prisoner-of-war camp during World War II. Atkinson's letter home with instructions for the dance was intercepted by the German security service, the Abwehr, who spent the rest of the war trying to break the code! However, another version of the dance reached Scotland, where it became instantly popular.

The tune is sometimes played in a mix of Dorian and Aeolian mode.

Categories: Celtic Music Marches Reels Traditional/FolkDifficulty: intermediate
Thursday 2 June 2011

Tune of the Day: Siciliana by Telemann

 from Oboe Sonata in A minor

This typically Baroque siciliana opens Georg Philipp Telemann's Sonata in A minor for Oboe (or Violin, or Flute) and continuo. It was originally published in 1728 in the musical journal Der getreue Musikmeister (“The Faithful Music Master”).

Thanks to Sára from Hungary for suggesting this piece!

Categories: Baroque Sicilianas SonatasDifficulty: intermediate
Friday 3 June 2011

Tune of the Day: La fille aux cheveux de lin

 by Claude Debussy, arranged for flute and piano

This piece, whose title means “The Girl with the Flaxen Hair”, is taken from the first book of French composer Claude Debussy's Préludes for solo piano, composed in 1909–1910. It is one of the most recorded of Debussy's pieces, both in its original version and in various arrangements. The original piano version is in the key of G-flat major, but we have transposed it to A-flat in order to fit the range of the flute... and to make it easier to read!

Categories: 20th centuryDifficulty: intermediate
Saturday 4 June 2011

Tune of the Day: Giovani liete

 from Mozart's “The Marriage of Figaro”, arranged for two flutes

Here is the flute duet version of a famous chorus from Le nozze di Figaro. It appears near the end of Act I, when a group of peasants led by Figaro sing Count Almaviva's praises:

Greet him with flowers,
Torn from May bowers,
Wet with the summer show'rs,
Children of Spring;
Freely he gives you
Blossoms much dearer,
Ev'ry heart nearer—
Dance, then, and sing.

Categories: Choruses Classical Opera excerptsDifficulty: intermediate
Sunday 5 June 2011

Tune of the Day: The High Road to Gairloch

 Traditional Scottish pipe march

This old Highland pipe melody is reported to have been played by the Stewart clan pipers at the battle of Sheriffmuir in 1715, and is perhaps the same “Stewart's March” said to have been piped at the battle of Pinkie in 1547. To modern ears, this tune may sound a lot like the popular children's tune to “London Bridge is Falling Down”, which, however, has very different origins.

Categories: Celtic Music Marches Traditional/FolkDifficulty: easy
Monday 6 June 2011

Tune of the Day: Marziale by Köhler

 from Forty Progressive Duets for Two Flutes

The Italian title of this piece suggests, of course, that it is to be played in a martial, solemn manner. Its main theme, assigned to the first flute, sounds like a brilliant 4/4-time march in C major; the central section, on the other hand, makes use of chromatic passages and has a darker mood to it.

Categories: Romantic Written for FluteDifficulty: intermediate
Tuesday 7 June 2011

Tune of the Day: Spirituoso by Telemann

 from Oboe Sonata in A minor

Since you liked the first movement of Telemann's Oboe Sonata in A minor, here is the second one! This “spirited” Spirituoso should be played at a relatively fast tempo, indicatively between 104 and 112 BPM, but don't forget to pay attention to articulation and tone quality.

Categories: Baroque SonatasDifficulty: intermediate
Wednesday 8 June 2011

Tune of the Day: Rêverie by Pessard

 for solo Flute and Piano

French composer Emile Pessard, who was professor of Harmony at the Paris Conservatoire at the end of the 19th century, was also the son of a flutist, and he was probably familiar with the tonal brilliance and technical capabilities of the flute. His “Rêverie” (“Dream”) for solo flute and piano exemplifies a style of popular virtuoso salon music, where the soloist is given ample opportunity to display his or her mastery of the instrument at the expense of the piano, which is assigned a very simple chordal accompaniment.

Categories: RomanticDifficulty: intermediate
Thursday 9 June 2011

Tune of the Day: Johnnie Cope

 Traditional Scottish folk song

This tune is based on an old Scottish air. The title “Hey, Johnnie Cope, Are Ye Waking Yet?” and the lyrics, however, are by Adam Skirving, a Scottish tenant farmer and songwriter of the 18th century. Skirving gives an account from the Jacobite viewpoint of the Battle of Prestonpans, which took place during the Second Jacobite uprising. In the battle, Sir John Cope was the commander of the government troops, and was defeated in a dawn attack by the Jacobites.

The tune is still played by Scottish regiments as their reveille. It has also been arranged many times for both solo voice and choirs, and has been recorded by The Corries, Natalie MacMaster, The Tannahill Weavers, Charlie Zahm, and Planxty.

Categories: Celtic Music Traditional/FolkDifficulty: intermediate
Friday 10 June 2011

Tune of the Day: Allegro by Telemann

 from “Sonates sans Basse à deux Flutes traverses”

Here is the second movement of the first of Georg Philipp Telemann's Sonatas without Bass for Two Transverse Flutes, or Two Violins, or Two Recorders. This common-time Allegro in G major does not present any particular technical difficulty, but should be played at a moderately fast tempo.

Categories: Baroque Sonatas Written for FluteDifficulty: intermediate
Saturday 11 June 2011

Tune of the Day: Doll's Waltz

 from Köhler's “25 Romantic Studies”

This elegant, graceful waltz is taken from Ernesto Köhler's 25 Romantic Studies, Op. 66. The only real difficulty here lies in the large intervals. Try to keep a steady tempo throughout the piece, and to differentiate repeated phrases with a careful use of dynamics.

Categories: Etudes RomanticDifficulty: intermediate
Sunday 12 June 2011

Tune of the Day: Allegro by Handel

 from Sonata in A minor

This is the second movement of Georg Frideric Handel's Sonata in A minor for recorder and basso continuo. This binary-form Allegro features a simple (but effective) melody over an agitated bass line built on broken chords.

Categories: Baroque SonatasDifficulty: intermediate
Monday 13 June 2011

Tune of the Day: Da New Rigged Ship

 Traditional Scottish reel

This traditional reel comes from Shetland. According to Tom Anderson's book Ringing Strings, “the tune celebrates the rigging out with new sails and mast of a fishing boat, which the owner proudly calls a ship”.

From a musical standpoint, this tune is interesting because it is of mixed mode: the first part is in D Mixolydian, the second part is in A major, and the last part is in A Dorian.

Categories: Celtic Music ReelsDifficulty: intermediate
Tuesday 14 June 2011

Tune of the Day: Moderato by Köhler

 from Forty Progressive Duets for Two Flutes

This duet from Volume I of Ernesto Köhler's Forty Progressive Duets is written entirely in 2/4 time, but starts out with a long succession of triplets that makes the piece sound as if it were in 6/8 time. Then, at measure 17, binary rhythms suddenly make their appearance. In order to maintain a steady tempo, you'll need to be very careful when you reach this spot.

Categories: Romantic Written for FluteDifficulty: intermediate
Wednesday 15 June 2011

Tune of the Day: Pauls Steeple

 from “The Division Flute”

This piece appeared as an arrangement for recorder and continuo in The Division Flute, a collection of popular pieces published in 1704 in London. This arrangement was apparently derived from the 1685 edition of John Playford's The Division Violin.

The piece consists of eight variations over a repeated 8-bar ground bass.

Categories: Baroque Renaissance VariationsDifficulty: intermediate
Thursday 16 June 2011

Tune of the Day: Romance by Schumann

 arranged for Flute and Piano

Schumann wrote his three Romances for Oboe and Piano in December 1849. His efforts were not tied to a commission or request by a prominent soloist of the day, and this is probably the reason why from the technical point of view they are not particularly challenging pieces. In the first of the three, marked “Nicht schnell” (“Not quickly”), the soloist plays a lovely theme, supported by imaginative accompaniment on piano.

Thanks to István for suggesting this piece!

Categories: RomanticDifficulty: intermediate
Friday 17 June 2011

Tune of the Day: Noi suntem români

 Traditional Romanian folk song

This folk song, whose title means “We are Romanians”, comes directly from Romania. Its lyrics tell about the nation, including aspects like history and culture. It is a very nice and sincere song in verse-chorus form.

Categories: Patriotic Traditional/FolkDifficulty: easy
Saturday 18 June 2011

Tune of the Day: Andante by Telemann

 from Oboe Sonata in A minor

Here is the third movement from Georg Philipp Telemann's Sonata in A minor for Oboe (or Violin, or Flute) and continuo. This flowing Andante in C major is built on the distinctive rhythmic pattern of two eighth notes tied to a sextuplet.

Categories: Baroque SonatasDifficulty: intermediate
Sunday 19 June 2011

Tune of the Day: Marsch der Priester

 from Mozart's “The Magic Flute”, arranged for two flutes

At the beginning of Act II of Mozart's famous opera The Magic Flute, the council of priests of Isis and Osiris, headed by Sarastro, enters to the sound of this slow, solemn march. Mozart apparently completed this piece (and the overture to the opera) only two days before the work was premiered on September 30, 1791.

Categories: Classical Opera excerptsDifficulty: easy
Monday 20 June 2011

Tune of the Day: Two Bourrées by J.S. Bach

 from English Suite No. 2

Probably written around 1715, the six English Suites for harpsichord are generally thought to be the earliest of Johann Sebastian Bach's 19 suites for keyboard.

This pair of bourrées, very fast dances in 2/2 time, is taken from Suite No. 2. The first bourrée features long runs of eighth notes and wild modulations, while the second bourrée has a more ceremonial air and breaks into the major mode.

Thanks to Sigrid for suggesting this piece!

Categories: Baroque BourréesDifficulty: advanced
Tuesday 21 June 2011

Tune of the Day: Believe Me, if All Those Endearing Young Charms

 Traditional folk song

This folk song was popular in the early 19th century in both Ireland and America. Irish poet Thomas Moore wrote the words to a traditional air in 1808. This air has been claimed alike by England, Scotland and Ireland, but according to Scottish musicologist George Farquhar Graham the probability seems to be that it is an old English dance tune. It was first printed in a London songbook in 1775, and is occasionally wrongly credited to Sir William Davenant, whose older collection of tunes may have been the source for later publishers. Sir John Andrew Stevenson has also been credited as responsible for the music for Moore's setting.

English composer Matthew Locke's 17th-century folk song “My Lodging is in the Cold, Cold Ground” was also set to this tune some time after its original setting to a different, also traditional, air. Other than that, the tune is perhaps best known as the melody to “Fair Harvard”, the alma mater of Harvard University.

Thanks to Margaret for suggesting this tune!

Categories: Celtic Music Traditional/FolkDifficulty: easy
Wednesday 22 June 2011

Tune of the Day: Andante by Telemann

 from “Sonates sans Basse à deux Flutes traverses”

Today's piece is the third movement of Georg Philipp Telemann's Sonatas without Bass for Two Transverse Flutes, or Two Violins, or Two Recorders. It is a common-time Andante in E minor.

Categories: Baroque Sonatas Written for FluteDifficulty: intermediate
Thursday 23 June 2011

Tune of the Day: Study No. 3 by Köhler

 from “Progress in Flute Playing”

Here is another étude from the first of the three books which make up Ernesto Köhler's “Der Fortschritt Im Flötenspiel”, Op. 33. This one is in F major, 3/4 time. It starts out with a melodic theme, but soon begins to play with intervals and arpeggios. After a brief restatement of the initial theme, the piece ends with a short coda marked “Più vivo”, which can be translated as “more lively”.

Categories: Etudes Romantic Written for FluteDifficulty: intermediate
Friday 24 June 2011

Tune of the Day: Bonnie Dundee

 Traditional Scottish jig

John Graham of Claverhouse, 1st Viscount of Dundee, was called “Bluidy Clavers” (Bloody Claverhouse) by his enemies, but “Bonnie Dundee” by his followers among the Jacobites. When William of Orange landed, beginning what is now known as the Glorious Revolution, Claverhouse was one of the few Scottish nobles who remained loyal to James VII of Scotland. He was killed at the moment of victory in the battle of Killiecrankie, in 1689. Over a century later he was immortalized in a poem by Walter Scott, which was later adapted into a song.

This song has been used as a regimental march by several Scottish regiments in the British Army. It was also adapted under the title “Riding a Raid” by Confederate troops during the American Civil War.

Saturday 25 June 2011

Tune of the Day: Vivace by Telemann

 from Oboe Sonata in A minor

Here is the fourth and final movement of Georg Philipp Telemann's Sonata in A minor for Oboe (or Violin, or Flute) and continuo, which first appeared in the musical journal Der getreue Musikmeister in 1728. It is a fast A-minor Vivace in ternary (ABA) form.

Categories: Baroque SonatasDifficulty: intermediate
Sunday 26 June 2011

Tune of the Day: L'ho perduta, me meschina!

 from Mozart's “The Marriage of Figaro”, arranged for two flutes

The title of this aria literally means “I have lost it, woe is me!”. It is taken from the very beginning of Act IV of Mozart's opera Le nozze di Figaro, and is sung by Barbarina, Susanna's cousin. Terribly upset, Barbarina is searching the garden for something that she has lost. When Figaro arrives with his mother Marcellina and asks the weeping girl what's wrong, she replies that she has lost the pin that the Count gave her to deliver to Susanna as a token of their tryst. Angry, but pretending that he already knows all about it, he plucks a pin from Marcellina's dress and gives it to Barbarina, who goes off to give it to Susanna. Figaro collapses into his mother's arms, then rage overtakes him as he vows to avenge all deceived husbands.

Categories: Arias Classical Opera excerptsDifficulty: easy
Monday 27 June 2011

Tune of the Day: All Through the Night

 Traditional Welsh folk song

“Ar Hyd y Nos”, also known in English as “All Through the Night” after the words by Sir Harold Boulton, is one of the most widely known and best loved Welsh folk songs. The tune was first recorded in harpist Edward Jones's Musical and Poetical Relics of the Welsh Bards, circa 1784. It had already been used, however, in the 1728 ballad opera The Beggar's Opera by John Gay.

The song is sometimes considered a Christmas carol, and as such has been covered by numerous artists on Christmas albums.

Tuesday 28 June 2011

Tune of the Day: Allemande by J.S. Bach

 from Partita in D minor for solo violin, arranged for solo flute

Johann Sebastian Bach wrote his Partita in D minor for solo violin, BWV 1004, during the period 1717–1723, probably in memory of his first wife Maria Barbara. The partita opens with an earnest Allemande unexpectedly free of complex chords, which sounds very good when played on the flute.

Thanks to Gabriel for suggesting this piece!

Categories: Allemandes BaroqueDifficulty: intermediate
Wednesday 29 June 2011

Tune of the Day: Adagio by Handel

 from Sonata in A minor

Even though there are no sharps or flats in the key signature, the third movement of Handel's Recorder Sonata in A minor begins in F major. After a brief visit to the key of C major, it eventually gets back to A minor, and ends on a half cadence.

Categories: Baroque SonatasDifficulty: intermediate
Thursday 30 June 2011

Tune of the Day: Largo by Vivaldi

 from “Guitar Concerto” in D major

Even if modern performance usually features a guitar as the solo instrument, this concerto was originally written for the lute. It was probably composed in the 1730s during a visit to Bohemia, but, as with Vivaldi's other lute works, it was not published during the composer's lifetime.

Today we present the central Largo, a slow, reflective meditation in the usual binary form.

Thanks to Phil for suggesting this beautiful piece!

Categories: BaroqueDifficulty: easy