I remember reading about a book years ago that cellist, Frances-Marie Uitti (she invented a playing technique using two bows so that she could play four part polyphonic music on the cello), that would be a technical manual on alternative 20th century cello techniques. What she ended up publishing was a chapter in the Cambridge Companion to the Cello titled “The Frontiers of Technique” which:
In it the development of cello techniques is traced through the Darmstadt experimental era covering the uses of different bows and preparations, new repertoire, percussives, use of the voice and new uses of both hands.
I would still love to read a book length (or maybe dissertation length?) treatment of the subject, but as I was walking into the office debating whether to practice or do a little more organizing I had a tiny revelation that I should be documenting non-Western cello techniques in some form or another. I immediately told the wife of my plan to compile a glossary of world music terms that are relevant to the techniques and skills I’ve had to learn outside of orthodox music instruction channels.
Basically, the idea would be to have a place I can direct people to online (or in handout form for classes and workshops) to terminology from specific cultures so that I don’t have to continually define each and every term whenever I might write or talk about it. Ideally it would also give a description of how it can be done on the cello as well, and eventually might have audio if I get adventurous enough.
The biggest obstacle, is that I just do not know what all these ornaments, or techniques are called in the various countries. When I talk to Wendi (il Troubadore’s clarinetist) about some of the issues of translating non-Western folk music techniques to modern Western instruments we might refer to things like “that weird Bulgarian trill” (which I actually do know the name for: “tresene“) or what have you.
Knowing the terminology will just ease the issue of presentation, or even communication, but most importantly will also give some indication of the culture’s music of the technique from which it is being borrowed.
I realize that I haven’t gotten to blogging about the meat of anything here yet. Mostly I’m letting people smell the meal before it’s cooked, or maybe these posts are appetizers? Either way, keep reading folks, I’m sure I’ll have something with more substance here soon.