Working the Canon

I’ve let Canon in D – the ubiquitous Pacabel wedding tune – languish. I got frustrated a few months back with the variation of the theme that is the most interesting and forms the bulk of the arrangement I’m working with, an arrangement I bought and downloaded last spring.  I haven’t touched it in a number of months, but yesterday I picked it back up to see if I’ve progressed far enough in my playing to work with it productively.

Indeed, I was happy to be able to make some significant progress.  I realized the bowing/rhythm of the largest, most difficult section was a lot to work with on top of the notes, so I took the notes out of the equation.  I started counting it out, and began working up just the rhythm and the bow strokes.  Such an approach had never occurred to me independently before, but it’s a good one.  Teacher has worked with me to do exactly that in lessons with complicated rhythmic passages – the idea is to bow and produce the right rhythm on an open string, then, when that is happening well enough, add the fingering back in.

The rhythmic section in question is a non-stop series of one eighth followed by two sixteenth notes, which get repeated immediately, then those six notes get followed up with eight sixteenth notes in a row.  That whole 14 note pattern then repeats for quite a few measures with no rests in this section of the piece.  It was in looking for and seeing the pattern that I was able to see how to break it apart and start to work with it bow stroke by bow stroke.  The notes are challenging as well, with some large intervals and double string crossings, and I’m also going to have to figure out how to shift positions, I think, to get at least one part sounding better in the future (versus just throwing my pinky way up on the E string and hoping for the best), but for me the heart of the complexity turned out to be the rhythm and bowing.

It’s working!  I’m making real progress on this thing.  I probably worked on it for half an hour of my close to three-hour practice session yesterday.  I also worked that hard on my new Gavotte, a complex and challenging piece.  These “work through challenges” practice sessions are great; there’s no getting around the hard work it takes to play the violin.  The hard stuff in life is always what pays off most.

Thanks for reading.

Ryan

One comment

  1. […] this year – back in January.  By that time, I had been playing the violin for over two years – the early-2016 post indicates a belief that I might have progressed to the point where I could give the Canon another go.  I […]

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