Ever since posting a memorial to my friend that included the song “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Miserables I have been stuck with it coursing through my head. It’s a beautiful song, so yesterday I decided to see if I could play it. I looked up music online and l found some potential vendors, but before I got to the point where I evaluate whether I could actually play any of them I found a YouTube violin tutorial on the song marked “easy.” A violinist has written out fingerings for the whole song and has made it available for download. She also provides a backing track and lots of commentary.
The fingerings she provides are full of “back” notation, which means “low” in my fingering parlance (she’s British). There’s a modulation, and some accidentals. It’s strange to go back to working with rows of 1-2-3-4 as my guidance – my early “music” was row upon row of finger position numbers. As I played, I noticed that the fingering pattern on the strings was nothing that I’ve encountered before. Fingering patterns, which form keys, are made up of systematic alterations to standard first position fingering – each key has its own unique fingering pattern. The tutorial was marked “easy,” and following the fingerings was indeed easy enough, but this new-to-me fingering pattern caused me to start wondering about what key this piece might be in.
It definitely wasn’t a key I had encountered before, and the degree to which the new fingering wasn’t causing me much trouble perplexed me. I thought about it a minute and realized I was playing low first finger on the D string a lot, which is an E-flat; it seemed to be the tonic. I ran the major scale pattern through my head and with my fingers starting from e-flat, and sure enough it turns out the song is in e-flat major. It’s a lovely key; the slow tempo of the song is likely the reason I’m able to work with it so well out of the gate.
I wonder how long it will be before Teacher introduces me to e-flat major in music proper? It’s not the first key you think of for the violin, that’s for sure.
Thanks for reading.