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Going to America More Slowly

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Going to America – February Edition

A couple of weeks ago, Charnwood Training Band had a quick blow through the Dvorak piece I’ve simplified and arranged. It did sound unintentionally avant-garde at points and some of that will just have to be worked through. For example, even if I experimented to changing the key to one that is more familiar (D minor comes up more often than E minor), there would still be quite a few accidentals to negotiate to get some of the rich chords that flavour the piece. However, on reflection, I think some of the tempos I set pose unnecessary challenges (semiquavers flying by at 200bpm!) so I’ve created a new render with a few little tweaks.

Sometimes going too slowly is as hard as going too fast so the first adjustment is that the famous Largo (the “Hovis music” as it is now often known in the UK) has been pushed up to 70bpm to help those with sustained notes. The third movement was marked Molto vivace in Dvorak’s original and I had it set at 200bpm (one source suggests that this is the top end of Presto). We didn’t try it that fast but I was struggling to keep up even on the relatively simple tuba part, so that has now dropped down to 150bpm (Allegro or the very bottom end of regular Vivace).

That brought another decision. I had a large chunk of the movement repeated because it went by so fast. It seemed like a lot of work for something that would pass in a few blinks and, for the listener, it would have come and gone too quickly. At the slower tempo, it seemed more balanced to drop the repeat and avoid the piece running over seven minutes long!

Finally, the Allegro con fuoco (fast and with fire) has been dropped from 150bpm (the top end of Allegro) to an almost stately 120bpm, still just within the regular range but where it might be described as Allegro moderato instead. Hopefully, with less danger of tripping over our feet, we’ll still be able to imbue it with some fiery energy.

We didn’t have a rehearsal this week, due to half-term, but I think we’re due to try it again in the next couple of weeks and I’ll get to see if these alterations help out.

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