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SOTM May 2021 - The Swan

nigeld

I don't need another mouthpiece; but . . .
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And now for something completely different . . .

Café Saxophone is for all things saxophonic, not just jazz, so the Song Of The Month for May is a classical piece - The Swan (Le Cygne) - written by the French composer Camille Saint-Saëns in 1886 as part of his "Carnival Of The Animals" suite.

The Swan was originally written for solo cello accompanied by two pianos. The Carnival Suite was written as an amusing piece for the composer's friends and he refused to allow publication during his lifetime because he was afraid that it would detract from his reputation as a serious composer, but he did publish this movement with single-piano accompaniment. I have used the composer's piano score for the backing this month. It is in the unusual time signature of 6/4. Watch out for the ritardando before the end!

I have also included a version in an easier key with a simpler accompaniment.


YouTube has several excellent saxophone recordings of The Swan. Here is my favourite, by the Japanese player Yasuto Tanaka:


And here is a cello version for the purists:

 
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nigeld

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In case anyone is wondering what a little cross before a note means - it is a double-sharp. F double sharp is the same as G.
 

rhysonsax

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That's quite a challenge to play well !

The only saxophone recording I have is this one by Scott Robinson playing his C Melody.


Rhys
 

nigeld

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I'm hoping that this accompaniment from YouTube works with the arrangement. There are others too.


Rhys
That seems to be the Saint-Saëns accompaniment - the same as the one I have provided, but at a slower tempo.
On the whole, the saxophone players on Youtube seem to prefer it a bit quicker and the cello players slower.
 

Tenor Viol

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mmmm it's very challenging to get the really smooth flowing legato bowing on cello... which is one reason I've avoided playing... might have a look...

For those who aren't sure... 6/4 is a compound time signature like 6/8. The unit of the beat is a dotted minim, so two of those to a bar. It should be thought of as 'in 2' but obviously if it's very slow, then as 6
 

rhysonsax

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mmmm it's very challenging to get the really smooth flowing legato bowing on cello... which is one reason I've avoided playing... might have a look...

For those who aren't sure... 6/4 is a compound time signature like 6/8. The unit of the beat is a dotted minim, so two of those to a bar. It should be thought of as 'in 2' but obviously if it's very slow, then as 6

It would be great to hear you playing cello on this.

Rhys
 
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nigeld

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I guess the breathing is a bit different with a violin.:oops:
And the down-bows and fingerings aren’t quite the same.

I have wondered if the reason that saxophone players seem to take this piece faster is because they need to breathe.
 

Tenor Viol

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Here's an arrangement for cello and strings. Cello part is mostly in tenor clef and goes up to D 9th above middle C. The violin arrangement above is exactly an octave higher than this.
 

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Tenor Viol

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I guess the breathing is a bit different with a violin.:oops:
Believe it or not... breathing is important with string playing and it can be an issue with some players because it can cause tension in the shoulders
 

Tenor Viol

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It would be great to hear you cello on this.

Rhys
Can't promise to do all of it as I have hardly played since lockdown #1 started last year.... :( What I might do is video a section of it and compare it to baritone sax as they're the same pitch....
 

saxofiend

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I played this recently myself ....was it OK? Well the next morning I rang the Police and reported a dazed looking swan on the side of a busy road.It would appear my playing is equivalent to a 6 pack of K Cider !
 

Tenor Viol

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Hmm... Just picked the cello up for the first time since October and recorded myself playing the opening. Horrible scratchy sound with no tone.... Maybe I should become an Anchorite
 

jbtsax

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Hmm... Just picked the cello up for the first time since October and recorded myself playing the opening. Horrible scratchy sound with no tone.... Maybe I should become an Anchorite
I can relate to that since I haven't played for a very long time myself. If I were to record it right now I would sound more like the "ugly duckling" before the transformation.
 

nigeld

I don't need another mouthpiece; but . . .
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I can relate to that since I haven't played for a very long time myself. If I were to record it right now I would sound more like the "ugly duckling" before the transformation.
The ugly duckling turned into a swan without realising it.
 

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