Thursday, January 28, 2016

Y is for Yonder

I've long had a toy theory that in the Vorspiel to Das Rheingold, via the entrances of the instruments and their relative positions in the pit, it's possible to tell which side of the Rhine you're supposed to be on, as the water moves from North to South.  Of course, this theory gets mixed up somewhat with the unorthodox seating under the cover of the Bayreuth pit, but the notion that the physical placement of instruments in a space can lead to a sensation of motion is not fanciful at all.  One of the features I neglected to mention in my post about Thomas Brodhead's edition of Ives's 4th Symphony is that Ives included fairly elaborate instructions regarding the dynamics in the second movement and how these might be refined through actual placement of the musicians, in some cases suggesting either physical movement of the players or an enlarged ensemble.  To date, this appears not to have been done in performance, but it is surely worth trying.  The potential for this was certainly evoked in Jose Serebrier's quadraphonic recording, in which the mobile perspective of the composer/listener is strongly suggested (in fact, I might now characterize Ives's approach as film sound design before films had sound design!)

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