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date: 24 November 2020


A Dictionary of Opera Characters

Joyce Bourne

(Moses und Aron—Schoenberg) by Philip LangridgeI have to confess that the first time I looked at the part of Aaron with a view to singing it, I thought it much too difficult to learn. It was not so much the rather angular vocal writing—I had seen music written in a much more aggressive way than this—it was more a question of tuning. The flow of the vocal line in many places is very lyrical, but when you look at the detail of the accompaniment, the chords written beneath almost every note, you find that some notes fit exactly with that of the singer and some absolutely do not. I began by learning each phrase, one note following the other, so that each note was exactly in tune. Then each of these notes had to be sung, whistled, or hummed while playing the notes of the chord underneath it. If there was an exact match with the note I was singing, I put a ring round it. On the other hand, a note which was ‘challenged’ in the accompanying chord was very firmly crossed out. I know it sounds very long and laborious, but actually it did save time in the end because I was aware of the sounds around me when I sang it and that gave me a great sense of security.... ...

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