121: Notation

Okay, it’s too much work to throw random Wiktionary entries into post titles, so effective this post, I am no longer doing this thing that apparently unfairly tricks search engines into thinking I write anything of value. Two return values with one function, I guess.

I cannot get over Yujij Nomi’s “Nichijou 0 Ending Theme” (the music that accompanies the end credits for Nichijou Episode 0). There is nothing particularly musically redeeming, but it still sparkles with vitality that Nomi seems to radiate in his compositions. It carries itself gracefully with lush orchestration, creative harmonies, and well-placed progressions / modulations to stave off repetition. The piano part is not especially innovative but manages to avoid cliche: silken runs up and down the keyboard in fast arpeggios that kind of slide off at the end of each phrase. I doff my hat at the pianist who played this bit. The whole thing is lashed together beautifully with Sayaka Sasaki at the helm providing a wordless vocal line. The strings double her part, of course, but they are recorded at a distance, whereas Sayaka sounds in-your-face. She has a delightful singing voice – certainly not one that would carry her to the opera house, but more than enough to find her a comfortable place in any mainstream production.

The biggest draw for this particular piece is the rhythmic bombshell Nomi casually drops on us. “Nichijou 0 Ending Theme” is undoubtedly a piece in triple meter (the first theme to appear and all backing thereafter take the character of a waltz), but the primary theme alternates seamlessly between duple and triple meter (I suggest 2/4 out of convenience on the duple end; it seems to bisect each measure very carefully), eight bars in each. After eight bars of expository (which eventually becomes the secondary theme), the thematic material is stated properly: eight bars 2/4 and eight bars 3/4, twice over to cadence into a resolution (to enter the B section, a modulation to D flat major; to conclude the piece after recapitulation to the A section, a clean slide to a tonic chord in G).

I must stress that this is strictly something that only the melody leader need worry about. The rest of the orchestra carries on in 3/4 the whole time, all through the piece (song?). I can’t even imagine a clean way to notate this shenanigan, so I just write in two different time signatures between clefs and change signatures every eight measures. The preceding sentence ushers in an important point: I am so enamored with this piece that I am already sketching an arrangement for it. The pianoforte will never replicate the lovely cantabile sound requisite for this, but I am too caught up and invested to really care. These are interpretive problems, less a worry for the arranger.

…Who am I kidding? I don’t publish my arrangements. I’m the only one who plays them. This is going to be my problem no matter how I spin it. I couldn’t interpret my way out of a concert hall full of potheads. I’ve got some practice to play.

Sight reading is going at the usual glacial pace with Rachmaninoff’s fourth piano concerto, but for some reason the accidentals bother me no more. The slowest link in the learning chain is my poor technique which can only be straightened out with copious practice over time. The first and second movements are now completely read and almost altogether playable, but the third movement presents the thorniest reading of the concerto. I look forward to tackling it eventually.



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