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Flying with Brahms' Waltz

In violin class last month, I arrived at the fifth track in the Suzuki Violin Method Volume 2. The book only says that it's a waltz composed by Johannes Brahms, but in fact, its whole title is "Waltz Opus 39 Number 15". My homework was to describe what comes to mind when listening to this music. And I was supposed to let my imagination fly (nothing like, "The composer meant this, this and that"). So I let it fly. It flew through the roof, and towards the clouds (more on this below). I've always liked to imagine the songs I listen to as though they were the "background music" or the "soundtrack" for something, so it was an interesting experience. Here's the result (warning: ramblings of someone who has no classical music background whatsoever :P):

The music is very relaxing, and from the moment I heard the audio from the Suzuki book for the first time, I thought something about it was very familiar, but couldn't put a finger on it.

One version I found on the Internet was this one, on a piano (apparently the original version was for piano). When I heard it, right away I remembered that famous lullaby which, incidentally, is also by Brahms, whose version I had known was also on piano. Then, it clicked, and I thought, "Ah, makes sense! This explains it all!" When I was little, I'd recorded an entire tape (both sides of it!) Only with the said lullaby, to listen to at bedtime! Now I don't remember if I had actually heard the waltz before, or if I'd just thought he had heard it because it reminded me of the lullaby.

And there's this other version, with an orchestra. Unlike the previous one, this one is more lively and doesn't remind me of lullabies. It made me think of an old town where a castle is situated, on a day of a festival or something. The town is bustling with activities, with a lot of people walking to and fro, and several merchants selling their goods near the castle. A traveler arrives on the scene, and one of the merchants coaxes him into buying a lot of products, and the naive traveler ends up buying pig in a poke. Something like, "The tune seems innocent and cozy, but don't be fooled!" :P . I have no idea where this came from, but this is what came to mind.

Back to the violin, when I hear my teacher playing this waltz, I have the impression of floating in the clouds enveloped by a gentle breeze, with no destination and nothing to worry about. The crescendo (gradual increase of intensity and volume) at the second part's end gives me the sensation of flying even higher.

Here's the recording of my teacher playing the waltz: brahms-waltz_teacher01.mp3 (4shared) - brahms-waltz_teacher01.ogg (Open Drive)

When I'm playing, I'm not at the level of creating breeze or clouds yet, but I find it interesting that when tying the notes, my two arms move in opposite directions and make me feel that I'm dancing. When my left arm closes slightly to reach the lower string's notes, my right arm opens to pull the bow down, and when my left arm opens a bit to get to the higher string's notes, my right one closes a bit to push the bow up, and so on for the whole song. I don't know if this effect is intentional or if only Suzuki's arrangement is this way, but I found it very interesting. When my performance reaches the level to re-create the sensation of floating in the clouds, I believe I'll have the impression that I'm dancing in the clouds! :D

So many ways to interpret the same music ... It took me from the sleep world to an ancient town, then to the clouds and back!

Okay, enough daydreaming with the head in the clouds. Let's come back to reality. And reality is that my performance still leaves much to be desired. There's no vibrato and I'm struggling with dynamics, and it still sounds very flat at the moment. Even so, I'll post it here on the blog as a record of the state of my violin playing between November and December of 2015. Here it is:

Download/listen: brahms-waltz01.mp3 (4shared) - brahms-waltz01.ogg (Open Drive)