Bach practice: unison discovery
One of the things I love about the hammered dulcimer is the ethereal sound that comes from striking unison courses. The tune “Cincinnati,” found both in Striking Out and Winning! and on Contra-Intuitive, is a fine example of unison magnification.
(My amazingly brilliant composer/pianist friend, John, plays along with “Cincinnati” on “Contra-Intuitive,” at the same time trying to replicate my dulcimer playing on the piano. I’m afraid he needs two pianos to produce that unison-course sound! It is not beyond him to play two pianos side-saddle. He will find a way, and will do it well, probably without looking at either hand! The man boggles my mind.)
Yesterday I found a couple places where unisons would enhance Cello Suite No. 1’s Courante, so I began working it out. It is tough right now, because the wider visual patterns are a drastic change from the easier, smaller patterns I was eyeballing before. (Think: there must be a harder way to do this!) But the result I’m hearing at this early stage of re-patterning makes it well worth the effort. Striking unisons seems to better match the overall resonance in the rest of the movement, too.
It’s snowing today (yes, almost a month into spring!), so a great day to snuggle down with a cup of cocoa and the Courante score before returning to the dulcimer for another practice session. I’m eager to see how much of the unison portion in the A section “stuck” from yesterday. And I’d like to get going on the B section if the unisons go well.
I feel myself smile while I play this movement, even though I’m still learning it!
Are you striking the unison courses at the same time (in unison!) or are you striking one course as you play and then a unison course when the note appears again in the phrase?
It’s the latter situation! It re-articulates the pitch more smoothly while maximizing on resonance.