Friday, April 20, 2007



For the last year and a half I've worked hard to learn to read the bass clef and to see/feel/hear the connection between each written note on the staff and how it sounds on my cello. I've just become comfortable with the names of the notes on the bass clef and have finally broken my 45+ year relationship with the treble clef [how many times I played a C but (when asked by my teacher) I said "A", for example.]

Now, all of a sudden, Mooney's Position Pieces presents some songs that use diamond-shaped notes. Harmonics! I've done some experimenting with harmonics for some time, so I knew how to play them - more or less. Although producing pure, clean sounds is a challenge.

But my hard-won see/feel/hear connection no longer works, here. While these diamond-notes are still fingered the same, they no longer sound the same. Until now, I've used the score to help memorize the sound of the piece as I memorize the fingering. But with harmonics, the locations of the diamond notes on the staff no longer matches their relative sounds - at least using my non-harmonic frame of reference. This has added a new wrinkle to my memorizing process. Even though I "know" that the harmonic for the "G" (on the d-string) is higher than the harmonic at the "A" (on the d-string) it still surprises me when I play it from the score and the relative interval is opposite to what I "expected" to hear.

I do like the "new" sounds.

But what else am I going to have to unlearn?

I haven't broken ties to the treble clef. Although I've played with "C" Clef and Bass Clef, I tend to always translate it from Treble. I wonder if its like learning a second language. Thanks for the warm welcome.
Don't break ties to the tereble clef, you're going to need it. Although it is more then twenty years ago since I last played recorder, I can still name all the notes within the reach of the recorder fluently, which comes in handy when playing thumb position. And have you already started reading tenor clef? Consider reading bass clef as a second native language. And when you start with tenor clef, it must become a third native language.
LOL! That one brought back memories. I can't tell you how distressed I was the first time I had meticulously prepared what my teacher had asked for one week, only to have her tell me the following week to play it completely differently. Learning, unlearning, relearning. That's what makes the cello a lifelong fascination.
So far I haven't come across these diamond notes except in Mooney's book.
oh, you will see diamond notes for harmonics forever, its standard notation...and remember, cellist HATE to read leger lines so you will have to be able to fluently read both bass and treble as well as tenor clef...when I was at Eastman we had to sight sing pieces that switched between bass, treble, tenor, alto, and soprano clefs, sometimes switching on every single note! that was challenging.
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