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Jim's Bach Bouree Project Blog
Creating a Violin & Piano Duet
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (24 votes) 
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Jim Dunleavy
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January 9, 2022 - 7:33 am
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I've decided to document my journey of creating a video of a violin piece I've recently learned. Hopefully this might be of some interest to you guys on Fiddlerman's forum.

The piece is the Bouree by J S Bach from Suzuki book 3; I'm going to play both the violin and piano parts and stitch them together in the edit, ready to go on my YouTube channel.

First step is to learn both parts! I've already posted my early attempts at the violin part elsewhere on the forum, but for completeness here they are again - one video of the G major section and a second for the G minor part. I've not videod my progress on the piano part as it's not relevant to this forum, and it's relatively easy for me as I'm much more adept at piano than violin.

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Mouse
January 9, 2022 - 9:07 am
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Wow, very nice! I look forward to following this blog and I am so happy you are doing this.

This is so well done. Thank you for sharing.

The Bumblebee Flies!

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ELCBK
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January 9, 2022 - 2:55 pm
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@Jim Dunleavy -

Great to be able to follow you with this! 

Can't wait to see how it all comes together! 🤗

Thank you!  

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Mark
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January 9, 2022 - 11:59 pm
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Jim,

Looking forward to the progression, impressed with your progress on the fiddle and jealous of you piano skills.

Mark

Master the Frog and you have mastered the bow.

Albert Sammons

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Jim Dunleavy
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January 10, 2022 - 3:42 am
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Thanks for the encouragement guys; I'm looking forward to sharing my experiences.

So....

I decided to invest in the Suzuki book rather than continue using my downloaded copy of the music, which seemed to contain some errors; also, the downloaded part was spread over 4 pages whereas in the Suzuki book it's all on 2 pages facing each other so no page turns required.

Suzuki-Book.jpgImage Enlarger

I had a feeling there might be some other good pieces in the book, which (it turns out) there are. What I didn't expect was the great preparatory exercises for each piece that they give you in the book - excellent ones for the chords near the beginning in this case, which have been invaluable for improving my playing of them: see the video extract for the exercises (which I expanded to include the bits just before and just after each chord in the piece itself).

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Jim Dunleavy
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January 11, 2022 - 3:49 am
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I decided to do a very rough test of putting the parts together; I needed to record the violin first as it leads the piece and then try my best to fit the piano part to it afterwards. I had a feeling this would be a challenge and I was dead right! The main problem with the test was that I rushed when I recorded the violin part, especially in some places (for some reason after I'd made a slip I seemed to accelerate wildly as if to make up for it!), so it was tricky to keep in time when I did the piano part - in fact I didn't really manage it that well. In my defence, while I was recording the violin my wife was waiting to get into the kitchen to make her lunch. lol

Anyway here's the result of this initial 'feasibility study'.

Despite the obvious problems here I'm confident it can be done with more practice and a bit more care (I just dashed off both parts for the test taking no great care and doing it all in one take for each part). Obviously for the final video I'll use my best quality audio gear for the recording and not just use the sound from the video camera as I did here.

So, lessons to take forward from the test:

1. Practice the violin part with a metronome for a while - I reckon 112 is about right for this piece

2. Tune the piano!

3. Accept that I can't do the page turns quickly enough and will have to record the piano part in 3 goes and cover the joins up with close-ups of the violin (or something).

4. The piece ends up quite long with all the repeats and the da capo; I need to consider leaving out some of the repeats I think.

5. The intonation of the violin is better than I feared considering I didn't have any reference while I was recording it; just after the da capo I went flat for a while before realising and correcting it, but I'm sure I can manage to get it near enough for the performance (and I can always do a section over and cut it in if I don't).

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ABitRusty
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January 11, 2022 - 8:46 am
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interesting blog Jim and excellent playing on both instruments.  Those page flips for the piano do bring up a bit of a problem. Wish someone made a screen that would scroll the music in whatever way and speed a person needed.   Say instead of a page flip have it scroll verticle or whatever.  thanks for starting the topic!  fun stuff and interested in seeing how everything comes together.

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Jim Dunleavy
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January 11, 2022 - 10:35 am
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ABitRusty said
interesting blog Jim and excellent playing on both instruments.  Those page flips for the piano do bring up a bit of a problem. Wish someone made a screen that would scroll the music in whatever way and speed a person needed.   Say instead of a page flip have it scroll verticle or whatever.  thanks for starting the topic!  fun stuff and interested in seeing how everything comes together.

  

Thanks @ABitRusty .

Yes, I believe you can get an app for a tablet that does that, but my tablet is a bit too small (for my old eyes, anyway) and I don't think it's worth the expense of getting a bigger one just for music.

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Bob
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January 11, 2022 - 10:59 am
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Just in case you ever want to user Adobe Reader to read music pdf files You can auto scrolls with Reader.

"Press Ctrl + Shift + H to initiate auto-scroll in Adobe Reader. Adjust the scroll speed using the up and down arrow keys. Press the minus key (-) to change the scroll direction. Press Ctrl + Shift + H to stop auto-scroll."

Bob in Lone Oak, Texas

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ELCBK
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January 11, 2022 - 2:06 pm
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@Jim Dunleavy -

💖 your 'test'! 

💖 this project! 

💖 you have mastered so many different kinds of instruments! 

...ever consider adding in your flute?  Think it could be beautiful. 🤗

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stringy
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January 11, 2022 - 5:16 pm
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Brilliant stuff Jim, it goes great with the piano, no doubt about it, really enjoy these blogs. look forward to watching more.

Bit more, bit more, snap #*÷?×[email protected]?#[email protected]

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SharonC
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January 11, 2022 - 11:27 pm
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@Jim Dunleavy This is great! Thank you for caputuring this journey for us!  Your duet test turned out pretty good!  And (as I have been learning, too) recording & putting together videos for duet playing is a great learning tool.

I've always been amazed at how piano players are able to turn pages as they play.  So many notes, so little time smile

Characterize people by their actions and you will never be fooled by their words.

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Jim Dunleavy
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January 12, 2022 - 3:46 am
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Thanks for the info @bob

Thanks Emily - maybe I'll try adding the flute in a future project, but for this one I've got plenty to be getting on with! lol

Thanks @stringy and @SharonC. Sharon, I agree - learning the accompaniment part sheds a different light on the music itself.

So...onward!

Here it is with a metronome set at 112. I'll practice it like this for a while to get it into my head; for the actual performance I want to be able to vary the tempo as the mood takes me, but this practice should iron out the wild, unintentional tempo changes (I hope!).

I've also cut out the repeats of the 2 long sections, but left in those for the 2 short sections - I think it works better that way (given that it's going on YouTube, where attention span is measured in 30 second cat videos). So I've covered lesson 4 as well. Yay!

You know though, now that I've listened back to this version and the rough 'rushed' one a few times, I think I prefer it a bit faster. That'll probably happen on its own if I practice at 112 then play it for the camera though - nerves tend to make me speed up.

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ELCBK
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January 12, 2022 - 3:38 pm
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@Jim Dunleavy -

Sounds wonderful - great articulation! 

It does sound more enjoyable without those repeats - nice call. 

Do you think it would be beneficial to listen to the tempo via earpiece on your final go, or a hindrance? 

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Jim Dunleavy
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January 13, 2022 - 5:23 am
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@ELCBK Thanks Emily. I really want some flexibility with the tempo to avoid it being too boring; little ralls at the end of phrase and sections and pauses for 'breath' can help liven it up.

Next: time to get out the piano tuning kit. The app I use is the free version of Tunelab; I don't mind the delays it adds in every 12 notes or so - it gives me a chance to rest!

Piano-Tuning-Kit.jpgImage Enlarger

I might have mentioned elsewhere on the forum that I developed serious back problems a couple of years ago and that led me to neglect my piano tuning, so it hasn't been done all that time.

Luckily, it's held its pitch pretty well and is only a few cents down (I raised it 5 cents in the editor for the rough duet video). Many unisons are beating wildly though, so it should sound a lot better once it's done.

Since tuning is very much not a back-friendly activity, I'm going to take it slow, and do it a section at a time; the bass is easy as there's only one or two strings per note, but the high treble is a challenge, as not only are there 3 strings per note, but I find it very difficult to get the unisons just right (probably my dodgy old-man hearing).

Unless I come across something interesting, I probably won't post much on this thread for a few days, as I reckon it'll take me that long to tune the piano going slowly and in small sections.

I'll continue to practice both parts, as the better I know them, the more likely I am to get a good performance when I come to video them 'for real'.

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Jim Dunleavy
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January 15, 2022 - 3:05 am
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Quick update: tuning is going slowly but well, and I just have the top 2 1/2 octaves to do now. I'll probably do half of that today and half tomorrow as the high notes take more time and concentration to get right.

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ELCBK
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January 15, 2022 - 3:46 am
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@Jim Dunleavy -

It's great you haven't run into any snags. 

I never really paid attention the few times I was at my Grandmother's house when her Baby Grand was being tuned - and I don't recall my Dad having our Upright tuned or if he did it himself while I was growing up. 

How often does a piano generally need to be tuned? 

 

https://tinderwetstudios.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/out-of-tune.jpg

 

...it might explain a lot if I was trying to learn on an out-of-tune piano as a child. (lol) 

- Emily

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Jim Dunleavy
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January 15, 2022 - 6:18 am
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@ELCKB most people recommend every 6 months for a piano at home with average use.

A soon as the tuner walks away from the piano it starts going out, and the more (and harder) it's played the quicker it will happen. As you might know, stage pianos are tuned just hours before a concert, and are sometimes touched up in the interval as well, to keep them sounding their best.

Anyway, I did the next octave just now, so only one more to go - I might do that this afternoon if my back feels OK, otherwise tomorrow. It's sounding really nice now.

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ABitRusty
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January 15, 2022 - 11:08 am
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Jim that sounds alot like work.  i remember for a short time when i was younger we took in a piano from a family member that no longer wanted it or got another or something.  an old upright.  our neighbor tuned pianos and came over and as a kid it seemed amazing watching him working on it.   stuck with me that theres alot to a piano inside and how anyone could get all the keys correctly adjusted.

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Jim Dunleavy
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January 16, 2022 - 7:45 am
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@ABitRusty yes, it's certainly a lot of work. It's one fairly straight-foward procedure, but repeated 85 times lol.

Nearly ten years ago now, I restrung that piano and replaced the hammers; THAT was a big job.

Anyway, just a very short video to give you an idea how it sounds after tuning (though the video cam mics don't really do the tone justice). NOTE: some pianists seem to hate on Fur Elise, but I think it's a great piece of music (if played well of course). More importantly, it's one of the few things I can play without the music.

I'm currently uploading a video with the piano accompanying the metronome 112 version of the violin part (I'll post a link once it's done) - it sounds very pedestrian to my ears, so I will definitely speed it up slightly for the real video.

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